For some mothers, childbirth does not always bring the expected joy and excitement. Postpartum depression, also referred to as postnatal depression, affects many women after they have given birth. It can happen to as much as 25 percent of new mothers. PPD may be caused by a number of factors during the woman’s pregnancy, such as a lack of proper vitamin intake. Most studies show that one of the most likely causes behind this form of depression are considerable changes to the body’s hormonal balance. Women who have also had postpartum depression with previous children are more likely to have it again with succeeding children. Trauma, anxiety, low self-esteem, and relationship issues are all believed to increase a mother’s risk of developing depression. If any symptoms of PPD are perceived shortly after childbirth, the mother should seek treatment right away.
The signs of post partum depression can occur at any time during the first few weeks or months after childbirth. Severe cases of PPD can last throughout a whole year. These include symptoms of anxiety, quick irritability, anger, and sudden bouts of crying. Mothers feel sad, guilty, and empty. They experience the exact opposite of what other mothers should go through when they meet their child and are unable to feel happiness. PPD may also be driven by a lack of self-esteem or a feeling of not being adequate enough to take care of a baby. Mothers also experience insomnia, severe and sudden changes in mood, intense fatigue, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social environments, irregular sleeping and eating patterns, and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. The mother-child relationship becomes considerably strained, and the mother may also find herself unable to care for her child properly. In the most dangerous circumstances, the mother may express a desire to harm herself and her child.
There are several forms of medication available to help mothers manage their postpartum depression. Antidepressants are the typically prescribed and effective method of depression treatment, with certain drugs carrying only a minute risk of producing adverse side-effects for the mother or child. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a group of antidepressants that control mood by increasing serotonin levels in the bloodstream. These include Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, and Paxil CR. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors regulate the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, and include the drugs Effexor and Savella.
Psychotherapy uses a series of psychological and psychiatric techniques to treat PPD. Interpersonal psychotherapy uses open communication to tackle the root problem areas of PPD, including grief associated with loss and relational issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps mothers deal with stress by exposing them to positive influences and minimizing the impact of negative thoughts and depressive tendencies. Psychodynamic psychotherapy suggests that PPD may be linked to a mother’s previous experience and attempts to help them overcome these by talking about these events and allowing them to recover from their past. Couples therapy is issued for postpartum depression connected to marital trouble and attempts to repair and strengthen relationships.
Strong emotional support is one of the most important things a mother needs to overcome post partum depression. Comfort from partners, family, and friends is instrumental in helping mothers deal with the emotional difficulties of PPD. Mothers should always have constant support, especially during depressive moments, and should never be left alone to deal with their symptoms. Support groups are also available to allow mothers to connect with others that are similarly suffering from PPD and subsequently help them cope with their condition.