Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

The birth of a baby is truly a blessing for every new mother or a father however this good news comes with lots of responsibility, and issues like lack of sleep, fatigue and other physical pain and discomforts that often leads a new parent into depression. It is very easy to understand the symptoms of postpartum depression because more or less it remains same for every new parent.

Whatever be the underlying cause of postpartum depression it is very crucial that you immediately take necessary medical treatment to relieve this mental health condition. Otherwise, if it is ignored or left untreated for a very longer duration it can be very complicated in the long run.

You might have heard this term “Baby blues” which primarily describes the condition of a new mother or father of a newborn child. This phrase defines a temporary psychological condition that leads to frequent mood swings just after the childbirth.

People who undergo postpartum depression have a roller coaster ride of different emotions and feelings.  Sometimes they feel excited, pleasant, blissful and just at another moment they started feeling sad, anxious, irritable, impatient, hopelessness, loneliness and burst into tears without any specific reason.

If any newly mother develops “Baby blues”, it automatically disappears after a short span of time like after a few hours of the attack or maximum for a week or two weeks. In this context, it can be said that this psychological state is less severe and less durable than the postpartum depression which can last for several months and even more than that.

Though “Baby blues” is often associated with the postpartum depression issue but just like the later one it doesn’t require always a medical treatment to relieve it completely. Most often with a family supports or by discussing your issues with other mothers proves helpful and healing one to get rid of this temporary phenomena naturally.

Also though some of the symptoms of “baby blues” appear in the case of postpartum depression too still in a wider perspective, it is totally a different and much powerful than the first one.

One research study suggests that approx. 80% of women face “Baby blues” issues in the first week or second weeks after their baby birth worldwide. Whereas the postpartum ratio around the world stands about 15 percent including the first time mothers and even those who have already given birth to a child before this one.

The symptoms of postpartum depression get intense with the passes of time leading to cause an immense amount of difficulty for the affected mother to take care of her child in a proper manner.

Under any condition, the postpartum symptoms should not be avoided as it is one of the serious mental disorders which needs prosper caregivers support and medical treatment to get rid of permanently.

Symptoms

symptoms of postpartum depressionAs per the one research study report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year approx. 20 % of new mothers develop some or more symptoms of postpartum depression. PPD is one of the psychic disorders and just like any other depression this also develops with different range of symptoms. The most commonly noticed PPD symptoms are mentioned below-

  • Frequent feeling of nervousness, anxiety, racing thoughts, worries and panic attacks.
  • The episode of depression lasts for the most part of a day and continues for several weeks and even more than that.
  • The feeling of tiredness exists for most of the day or become a daily life routine.
  • Loss of interest in every activity (including sex as well) evens those which were previously one’s favorite habit.
  • The feeling of detachment from every known person or withdrawal from social gatherings including friends and family members.
  • Significant changes seen in sleeping and eating habits.
  • The feeling of inadequacy that becomes the perception of the affected person.
  • Frequent feeling of irritability or anger.
  • The feeling of guilt without any particular reason.
  • Loss of interest or love for the newborn child.
  • The affected person loses interest in them leading to avoid self-care habits and duties.
  • A feeling of overwhelming or being trapped which seems extremely difficult to cope with.
  • Difficulty in focusing, and learning or remembering new things.
  •  Lack of interest in meeting or staying in touch with friends.
  • Difficulty in concentration or focus.
  • Some physical symptoms develop such as stomach pain, headache, and blurry vision.
  • Lack of motivation level.
  • The fear or sensation of being ignored or rejected.
  • Crying a lot without any underlying reason.
  • The feeling of inability to do daily chores of life.

The symptoms of postpartum depression may start just after a few weeks of the childbirth. However, in certain cases, the symptoms may not appear even after the initial few months of the childbirth.

Postpartum psychosis is a very much related mental disorder just like PPD which develops after childbirth as it happens in the cases of PPD. However, Postpartum psychosis is a very serious and intense mental disorder. In its serious condition, the affected person develops hallucinations meaning sees and listen to the things which not actually exist in reality.

The other symptoms of serious postpartum psychosis include the feeling of harming oneself, or the feeling of harming the infant which is quite dangerous, and paranoia.

Though usually in such mental diseases neither the parents nor the child gets harmed, still such feelings are distressing and quite freighting so immediate medical intervention is required to relieve this disorder completely.

Causes

The postpartum depression arises out of the influence of different factors and till date no specific reasons are not found responsible for this particular mental health concern in the new parents. All the influential factors that cause PPD includes stressful events, emotional triggers, and biological changes that lead to misbalancing in the brain chemicals.

As per the study report conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, women who face difficulty in breastfeeding even after the 2nd weeks of their childbirth have a greater risk of developing postpartum depression even 2 months later of their delivery.

Again women with a previous history of any mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder or have a family history of depression have a greater risk of developing PPD with a comparison to other mothers with a newly born child. Other than this the following factors play a major role in causing the postpartum depression or PPD.

  • Persistent stress or worry about baby care and regarding all new responsibilities of life.
  •  Hormonal changes in the body that occurs after the baby birth that includes a drop in estrogen and progesterone hormones that affect the nervous system.
  •  An immense amount of difficulty in childbirth such as labor pain or complicated surgical process for the childbirth.
  • Past history of any long term mental health concern.
  • Physical level changes in a woman’s body after childbirth such as stretch mark, scars, etc that create stress and feeling of inferiority.
  • In the lack of good family support for baby care.
  • Financial level difficulties and struggle that arises after baby birth.
  • Health impacts after childbirth such as blood pressure changes, urinary incontinence, metabolism level alteration, and anemia.
  • Lack of close friends and family members to provide care and support which develops the feeling of loneliness.
  • Lack of sleep or difficulty in sleeping peacefully due to consistent baby care and worries.
  • Tension regarding the relationship, to fulfill the old responsibilities along with the new ones.
  • Troubles with breastfeeding are also linked with PPD symptoms.
  • Job-related worries that create an extra burden of responsibility which arises in working women.
  • Persistent illness, lack of support system and death of a dear one can cause PPD.
  • Being the mother of a child with special needs or challenges creates an immense amount of mental and physical pressure for raising such a child can lead to postpartum depression.
  • Women with a family history of depression contain high-risk factor for developing PPD. However, this is really not very clear why this actually happens.

Though some women contain high-risk factors for developing PPD, however, this mental health concern can affect to any woman after the childbirth even the woman who gives a normal delivery or have a healthy child in all respect.

However, it is suggested to women who have any past history of depression to consult with their regular doctor beforehand. With prior precaution and with your doctor’s support you can reduce your risk of developing the postpartum depression to a great extent.

Complications

If the postpartum depression issue remain untreated or timely treatment is not provided to the affected parent then in future it creates an immense amount of difficulty in building a bond between the child and relationship issues occurs with spouse and other family members as well.

Complications for Mothers

An untreated PPD can create an immense amount of difficulty in the future for the affected mother. It becomes a chronic depressive disorder that gets too difficult to handle. The untreated postpartum depression may last for many months or even more than that. Also if it is treated lately then its risk factor for future recurrence is much severe or remains too high.

Complications for Fathers

Postpartum depression can equally affect a new father just like the new mother especially when the father has to take care of the newly born. The emotional strain and its effect can lead to the chronic symptoms of PPD especially if it remains untreated.

Also, the depression effect of a new mother affects her relationship with her partner which again causes the risk of depression in the new dads. Also whether the baby’s mom is affected with depression or not the sense of new financial burden and new responsibilities increases the risk of depression in the baby’s father.

Complications for Children

The untreated PPD of a newly born child’s mother equally affect the health of her children. It can cause many emotional as well as behavioral difficulties including the issue in language development, lack of sleep, excessive crying and problems in eating, etc. Their growth rates are much lesser than the other children with a healthy and supporting mother or parents.

Postpartum Depression Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are noticing the symptoms of PPD then without further delay you should consult with a doctor as only a specialist doctor can diagnose your condition and if they diagnose you with this mental health issue they will start their further treatment to relieve this condition.

Antidepressants and counseling are two primary line of treatment for a patient diagnosed with the postpartum depression discussed below one by one-

Medications

Doctors usually prescribe antidepressants to relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression. These medications help in balancing your brain chemicals which are considered responsible for the depression, a mental health concern.

These medications are quite safe and don’t interfere with your childcare or health even if you are breastfeeding. Also, your doctor may prescribe you with brexanolone (Zulresso) which is a new medication that contains a synthetic form of the hormone allopregnanolone, used for treating the PPD condition. However, for ensuring safety you should always inform your doctor about your nursing if you are doing so.

Counseling

Counseling or talking therapy plays a vital role in the treatment of postpartum depression in parents of a newborn child. A professional therapist or psychologist will better understand the triggers of your symptoms and will guide you the ways to handle them more smartly.

Also, you can discuss your stress and worries about your past relationship or other stresses to get their guidance how to cope up with them to get back into your normal state of mind or normal mental health condition so that you can give good care to yourself as well as to your child as well.

It is suggested to every new parent that if they notice the symptoms of postpartum depression then without further delay take immediate treatment helps, as if treatment starts at right point in time then the responses will be quicker and positive enough.

Also, you need not feel shy even if you are facing these symptoms as it is quite normal and any delay will harm you and your child health. So it's better that you share your issue with your spouse, a friend or any trusted person to seek immediate necessary medical help.

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