Many people are confused about what postpartum depression (or PPD) actually is. Especially after birth, it is very difficult sometimes to separate the normal stress that comes along with being a new parent and dealing with a healing body, with the more serious symptoms that accompany PPD.
Some of these symptoms are feeling sad to the point that you cannot carry out your daily tasks, or having a hard time caring for others or yourself.
It’s thought that around 10 percent of new mothers develop this type of depression. Some experts think the number is higher because not all women seek treatment.
Postpartum depression develops within weeks after delivery. However, it can start developing before the mother gives birth. In fact, around half of women with PPD will exhibit signs and symptoms while they are pregnant.
If your healthcare provider believes you have PPD, then they will recommend counseling. You may be prescribed antidepressant medication, if they deem it necessary. They may also refer to you to a psychiatrist. It doesn’t matter when you are diagnosed with PPD, it’s important to get treatment right away. Getting over postpartum depression is possible with the right help.
Symptoms Of PPD
There are many symptoms of PPD and depression that may develop during pregnancy. In most cases, patients will experience five or more symptoms, and they will experience these symptoms just about daily. Some experience them for two weeks straight.
Some of the symptoms include crying all the time, experiencing extreme sadness and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy doing. Loss of appetite or eating too much are symptoms, and so is struggling to fall asleep at night or struggling to stay awake during the day. Other symptoms include feeling like you don’t want to live anymore, as well as difficulties focusing or feeling restlessness.
Other signs may include being angry or extremely irritable. You may find yourself avoiding friends and family. You may feel like you cannot properly take care of your child, too. Some women may become delusional or hallucinate, but those are rare cases.
If you have ever thought about harming yourself, then call a professional. The same goes if you thought about harming your child. Both of these are very serious.
Causes Of PPD After Birth
A combination of factors are thought to cause PPD. Some of these include hormonal, genetic, environmental, as well as emotional factors. Some women may feel like it is their own fault for being depressed, but that’s not the case. Depression is not brought on by something you did or didn’t do.
If you suffered with anxiety or depression during pregnancy, then you are at a higher risk of developing PPD. The same goes if you suffered with the baby blues after giving birth. Other factors include feeling physically fatigued after birth, as well as suffering from sleep deprivation.
PPD is related to hormonal changes that happen to a woman after she gives birth, and some researchers think changes can trigger depression in women who are more prone to shifting in estrogen and progesterone.
Are You At Risk?
There are a few predictors for PPD, with one being depression during pregnancy. Others include a traumatic birth experience, preterm delivery and a baby that needs neonatal care. Lack of social support, breastfeeding problems and a history of depression are other predictors.
Other risk factors are an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy and having the baby blues right after giving birth. Multiple babies or a child with birth defects are risk factors. Being single, domestic violence, unemployment and having many medical appointments throughout the pregnancy are risk factors, too.
Those risk factors don’t cause postpartum depression. Some women may only experience one of those risk factors. Other women may experience multiple factors.
How Is PPD Treated
PPD treatments are similar to treatments for depression that happens during or before pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may have you come in for regular check-ins, but if your symptoms are severe, then they will recommend counseling. You may be prescribed medications and counseling.
Counseling is sometimes referred to as talk therapy, and this may be on a one-on-one basis with a therapist or you will be in some sort of support group. This means you and other women with PPD will speak with one counseling. Sometimes the therapy sessions may include your family or your significant other.
Medications designed to treat depression balances brain chemicals. There are various types of antidepressants and your doctor can tell you about them. Some medications are combined in order to treat depression, and they will usually take a few weeks before their effects are felt.
However, medications can cause numerous side effects. Some of those effects will go away after a period of time. If you have side effects that cause you to not be able to function, then you will want to contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Some women don’t respond well to medication or talk therapy, and it’s usually because they have severe PPD. When this happens, they may receive treatment called electroconvulsive, which involves electrical currents being passed through the patient’s brain. Experts believe this treatment can lead to chemical changes that can help the patient get relief from the symptoms of depression. Once again, this treatment is usually reserved for women who are battling with a severe case of PPD.