The birth of a baby can trigger a mixture of robust emotions, from enthusiasm and happiness to worry and anxiety.
But it can also result in something you might not foresee — depression.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioural changes that happen in some women after delivery.
Postpartum depression isn’t an imperfection or a weakness.
Sometimes it’s simply the complexity of giving birth.
If you have postpartum depression, timely treatment can assist you to manage your symptoms and help you connect with your baby.
Dads aren’t exempt.
Research shows that about 1 in 10 new fathers get depression during the year their child is born.
Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be difficult to detect.
Several women have these symptoms following childbirth:
- Struggle to sleep
- Appetite fluctuations
- Unrelenting fatigue
- Lower libido
- Constant mood changes
PPD comes along with other indications of major depression, which aren’t common after childbirth, and may include:
- Being detached from your baby or seeming like you’re not bonding with them
- Crying often, for no reason
- Depressed mood
- Stubborn anger and crankiness
- Loss of pleasure
- Impressions of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Thoughts of harming someone else
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Untreated postpartum depression can be risky for new moms and their children.
As a new mom, you should ask for professional help when:
- Symptoms continue beyond 2 weeks
- You can’t function normally
- You can’t cope with daily situations
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- You’re feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day
Postpartum Depression Causes and Risk Factors
Having PPD does not mean use you did anything wrong.
Specialists believe it happens for numerous reasons, and those can be different for different people.
Some elements that can increase the chances of postpartum depression include:
- A record of depression before becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy
- Age at time of pregnancy (the younger you are, the higher the chances)
- Uncertainty about the pregnancy
- Children (the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in succeeding pregnancy)
- Family history of mood disorders
- Passing through a notably stressful event, like a job loss or health crisis
- Having a child with special needs or health issues
- Having twins or triplets
- Having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Insufficient social support
- Living alone
- Marital conflict
There’s no individual cause of postpartum depression, but these physical and emotional issues may contribute:
- Hormones. The dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after childbirth may play a role.
Other hormones secreted by your thyroid gland may also drop sharply and make you feel tired, lazy and depressed.
- Lack of sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
- Anxiety. You may be worried about your ability to care for an infant.
- Self-image. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity, or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these concerns can contribute to postpartum depression.
Types/Stages of Postpartum Depression
There are three terms used to explain the mood changes women have after giving birth:
- The “baby blues” happen to as many as 70% of women in the days right after childbirth.
You may have sudden mood swings, such as feeling joyous and then feeling downcast.
You may cry for no reason and can feel restless, cranky, worried, lonely, and sad.
The baby blues may last only some hours or as lengthy as 1 to 2 weeks post-delivery.
Usually, you don’t need treatment from a health care provider for baby blues.
Usually, joining a support group of new moms or talking with other moms helps.
- Postpartum depression (PPD) can happen a few days or even months after childbirth.
PPD can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first child.
You can have feelings comparable to those of baby blues — sadness, despair, anxiety, crankiness — but stronger.
PPD often restrains you from doing the things you require to do every day.
When your ability to function is swayed, you need to see a health care provider, such as your OB/GYN or primary care doctor.
This doctor will screen you for depression symptoms and devise a treatment plan.
If you don’t get treatment for PPD, symptoms can worsen.
While PPD is a severe condition, it can be managed with medication and counselling.
- Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that can affect new mothers.
This illness can happen fast, often within the first 3 months after childbirth.
Women often lose touch with reality, having auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t happening, like a person talking) and delusions (strongly believing absurd things).
Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common.
Other symptoms include insomnia (not being able to sleep), feeling upset and angry, pacing, uneasiness, and unusual feelings and behaviours.
Women who have postpartum psychosis require treatment right away and almost continuously need medication.
Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.
Postpartum Depression Prevention
If you have a history of depression, confide in your doctor as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, or if you’re planning to become pregnant.
- During pregnancy.
Your doctor can watch you for symptoms. You can control mild depression symptoms with support groups, counselling, or other therapies.
Your doctor may prescribe prescriptions, even while you’re pregnant.
- After your baby is born.
Your doctor may suggest an early postpartum checkup to look for indications of depression.
The earlier you’re diagnosed, the earlier you can start treatment.
If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend treatment as soon as you have the baby.