Postpartum Depression is more common than you may imagine. As the stats say, one in seven women suffer Postpartum Depression (PPD) from mild to severe levels during pregnancy and after giving birth. It is a mood disorder and it’s nothing to be afraid of. With correct treatment and support, you can recover from this testing period. In this article, we have covered all you need to know about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Postpartum Depression.
Giving birth to a new human and taking care of the infant is a hard task. Apart from the physical changes it can have a significant impact on your mental health as well as emotional well-being. From sleepless nights to crying babies to the awe moment of being a parent. The transition is not so smooth, especially for new parents.
It is physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially taxing to have a child and take care of the fragile being. Add to it the social pressure of things people expect from the new parents. It is a disastrous combo if you get consumed by the pressure of being a ‘good parent’. The process is a bit ‘go along, learn along’ kind and without any set guides, so it is normal that you make a few mistakes and might not feel 100% energetic all the time, you are human too.
Sometimes the sadness and overwhelming feelings last more than a few weeks and intensify as time goes by. It costs you your relationship with your family and the baby itself. If you feel these mood swings, emotional vulnerability, and instability you might suffer from Postpartum Depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression is the depression that is seen among the new parents of infants. It is commonly said to be baby blues where your emotions and mood are wonky, all over the place. However, postpartum depression can be more than just regular mood swings and the few weeks of baby blue. Note, that these baby blues and depression may start before giving the birth itself.
Feeling anxious and messing up sometimes is quite common and doesn’t make you a bad parent. It is part of parenthood. However, if these feelings of anxiety, emotional instability, crying at any given moment, or constant guilt of not being a good parent intensify and last for more than 3-4 weeks it’s a matter of concern.
When these baby blue symptoms intensify and turn into emotional instability, constant crying, feeling overwhelmed, not being able to care for the baby, difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships, and other such behaviors or issues, it becomes postpartum depression. Here you have difficulty in daily life tasks and struggle to connect, bond, and take care of the newborn baby.
It is commonly seen in women during and post-pregnancy. However, there are cases where men have also been seen suffering from postpartum depression well known as paternal postpartum depression.
What Are The Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression?
Oftentimes we confuse the feelings of being a little sad and anxious with baby blue. But they may be early signs of postpartum depression.
Recurring Sad And Depressive Feelings:
You often feel sad and have a sinking feeling in your heart. The anxiety may occur more and make you feel uneasy. You may struggle to focus and think straight. You find it difficult to make decisions and find motivation to move and to things.
You may result in loss of appetite or overeating. One may suffer from Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, or Binge Eating Disorder. You might find it difficult to find a good sleeping schedule and struggle with Insomnia or Hypersomnia.
One may suffer from intense emotions, especially sadness, hopelessness, and guilt. You may experience jumbling of emotions. You may find yourself crying often and for reasons that you usually don’t cry.
Withdrawal From Social Life:
You may find yourself withdrawing from social life with your friends and family. You may find yourself disconnected from your partner and struggle to communicate with them. You may lose interest in things that were once the most exciting in your life.
Difficulty With The Baby:
You may struggle with caring and connecting to your newborn or children in general. One may feel anxious and on edge around the newborn. In severe cases, one might hurt the baby intentionally as well.
Severe Depressive Episodes:
If you have a history of mental health issues you may suffer from anxiety attacks or panic attacks. You can also develop depression through pregnancy for various reasons and suffer from attacks.
Recurring Thoughts Of Death And Suicide:
In severe cases, one may constantly think of dying and may take active steps like suicide attempts. One may attempt to cause fatal harm to the newborn. These are serious symptoms and one should immediately consult a healthcare provider.
What Are The Causes Of Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression can be caused by many personal, financial, and social factors that may be beyond one’s control. Following are a few causes of postpartum depression commonly seen among new parents.
- Difficulties in pregnancy and delivery.
- History of depression and mental illness in parents or family.
- Conflict in relationship among the parents or with the close family and friends.
- If one gets pregnant when young or with an unpredicted pregnancy.
- If one is a single parent throughout pregnancy and after pregnancy.
- If one has a baby with special needs.
- If one struggles financially to provide for the baby.
- If one is struggling to cope with the life changes that happen with the newborn’s arrival.
Types of Postpartum Depression:
There are a few stages and types of postpartum depression, each with its difficulties and severeness. Depending on this, one may need to consult a healthcare provider immediately.
Baby Blues or Postpartum Blues
Baby blues are the low moods the new parents may experience after the delivery of the newborn. One feels overwhelmed, has intense emotions and has difficulty adjusting to these changes. One may even feel guilt and worry too much to make no mistakes. The symptoms may subside after 3-4 weeks and slowly you feel like yourself and confident. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and vary from making mistakes, but remember we learn every day and become better every day.
Peripartum Depression refers to parents suffering from the symptoms of depression regarding pregnancy during the pregnancy, before giving birth. One may feel anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, and more such emotions due to personal or medical reasons. It is quite common with complicated pregnancies and single parents.
Men also suffer from postpartum and peripartum depression. Thus, the term paternal depression is often used to refer to postpartum depression. New fathers may struggle with connecting to the baby as well as with providing for the baby. Paternal Depression has similar psychological impacts as postpartum depression in women.
Postpartum psychosis is an extreme case of psychological impact post-pregnancy. Here the symptoms are more severe, and the struggles are more harmful. One may struggle with their mental health to a concerning rate and may start hallucinating and even cause fatal harm to themselves as well as the newborn. This condition demands immediate medical attention from a skilled healthcare provider. One may suffer from sleeping disorders, delusions, mania, and hyperactivity.
Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression
There is no textbook procedure to diagnose postpartum depression. It is often what doctors conclude from your behavior and analysis of your mental and physical well-being. The diagnosis may heavily depend on the discussion the healthcare provider has with their patients.
They might ask you a series of questions to evaluate what is the problem and then provide their diagnosis. They may run some tests to ensure that the symptoms are not regarding any underlying medical condition.
Treatment of Postpartum Depression
The treatment opted for postpartum depression may depend on varying factors such as the severity of postpartum depression, other medical conditions, and the emergency of the treatment. For baby blues often support and talk therapy with family and friends helps.
One may need some anti-depressants or other prescriptions from the doctors based on their health history. However, in the case of postpartum psychosis, one may need more serious medical attention. If the patient is severely suffering from psychosis they may need to be admitted to treatment centers.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder often seen among the parents of newborns. Baby blues refers to the feeling of being overwhelmed, anxious, and cautious regarding taking care of the newborn as well as providing for them.
Postpartum depression is when the baby blues last more than three to four weeks, and the symptoms intensify. One may suffer from sleeping disorders, eating disorders, mood swings, excessive crying, and even struggle with the baby. In severe cases like postpartum psychosis, the symptoms are severe and include intentional harm to oneself and the newborn.
There can be many causes of postpartum depression ranging from social, financial, and personal factors. The diagnosis is tricky but with healthcare providers’ help, you can recover perfectly from postpartum depression. Remember, it is not uncommon, and it’s okay if you struggle with taking care of yourself and the newborn. Reach out for help if you need it.