Postpartum Depression: Everything You Need To Know
Having a baby is stressful—no matter how long
you've looked forward to it or how much you love your child. Considering the
sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and lack of time for yourself, it's no
surprise that a lot of new moms feel like they're on an emotional
At first, those feelings are perfectly normal,
they are called Baby Blues but if your symptoms don't go away after a few weeks
or get worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression (PPD), also called
postnatal depression, is a form of clinical depression that can affect women,
and less frequently men, typically after childbirth.
In fact, postpartum depression and the baby
blues share many symptoms, including mood swings, crying jags, sadness,
insomnia, and irritability. The difference is that with postpartum depression,
the symptoms are more severe (such as suicidal thoughts or an inability to care
for your newborn) and longer lasting.
And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
In the beginning, postpartum depression can look
like the normal baby blues. You might find yourself withdrawing from your
partner or being unable to bond well with your baby.
You might find your anxiety out of control, preventing
you from sleeping - even when your baby is asleep - or eating appropriately.
You might find feelings of guilt or
worthlessness overwhelming or begin to develop thoughts preoccupied with death
or even wish you were not alive.
These are all red flags for postpartum
Of Postpartum Depression
Hormonal changes: After childbirth, women experience a big drop in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Thyroid levels can also drop, which leads to fatigue and depression. These rapid hormonal changes—along with the changes in blood pressure, immune system functioning, and metabolism that new mothers experience—may trigger postpartum depression.
Physical changes. Giving birth brings numerous physical and emotional changes. You may be dealing with physical pain from the delivery or the difficulty of losing the baby weight, leaving your insecure about your physical and sexual attractiveness.
Stress: The stress of caring for a newborn can also take a toll. New mothers are often sleep deprived. In addition, you may feel overwhelmed and anxious about your ability to properly care for your baby. These adjustments can be particularly difficult if you’re a first-time mother who must get used
to an entirely new identity.
Know If You Are Suffering From Postpartum Depression
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a
standardized self-reported questionnaire, may be used to identify women who
have postpartum depression. If the new mother scores more than 13, she is
likely to develop PPD.
These include, but are not limited to, the
A feeling of being overwhelmed
Sleep and eating disturbances
Inability to be comforted
Low or no energy
Becoming easily frustrated
Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
Impaired speech and writing
Spells of anger towards others
Increased anxiety or panic attacks
Decreased sex drive
While the causes of PPD are not understood, a
number of factors have been identified as predictors of PPD: Birth-related
psychological trauma, Formula feeding rather than breast-feeding, A history of
depression, Cigarette smoking, Low self esteem, Childcare stress, Prenatal
depression during pregnancy, Prenatal anxiety, Low social support, Life stress,
Poor marital relationship, Maternity blues, Single Marital Status, Low
socioeconomic status and Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, you may be able to decrease
your risk of postpartum depression by preparing yourself before the birth for
the changes in lifestyle that motherhood will bring. Talk to other mothers and
to your doctor in very practical, day-to-day terms about what it's like to care
for an infant. Don't underestimate how much time you'll need with your newborn.
Clear out as much time as you can during the period after birth. Also, don't
hesitate to ask for help from your partner and others who care about you.
Numerous scientific studies and scholarly
journal articles support the notion that postpartum depression is treatable
using a variety of methods. If the cause of PPD can be identified, as described
above under "social risk factors," treatment should be aimed at
mitigating the root cause of the problem, including increased partner support,
additional help with childcare, cognitive therapy, etc.