Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
New mothers or fathers may suffer from baby blues or postpartum depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is quite normal for a mother to feel worried, stressed or fatigued for 1-2 weeks after delivery and is known as 'baby blues'.
Postpartum depression is a condition in which you may suffer from mild to severe depression after giving birth. It may occur after few months of delivery or after a year. In most cases, postpartum depression is witnessed within 3 months of delivery.
According to NIH, baby blues and postpartum depression are common in 80 percent of the women and 15 percent of men respectively.
Postpartum depression is a severe condition and must not be ignored if it persists for a longer time. It shall act as barrier for you to take care of yourself and your baby.
It is necessary that you are aware of the causes, symptoms and treatment of the condition to prevent further complications.
Postpartum Depression: Causes
The exact reasons behind the postpartum depression are not known. Hormonal changes during the pregnancy or after delivering the baby may affect your mood. There may be several physical and stress factors that may trigger the postpartum depression in new mothers.
Physical Factors: According to HealthLine, the sudden hormonal changes like drop in the levels of progesterone and estrogen after delivery may be a cause for depression. Other changes include low levels of thyroid, lack of sleep, use of alcohol and drugs, etc.
Mental factors: If you may have suffered from any mental disorders in the past, you can be at a higher risk of postpartum depression. Other factors may include lack of support, poor health of the newborn, death of a loved one or other traumatising events.
Postpartum Depression: Symptoms
It is normal to feel different, worried and anxious after the delivery of a baby. The new baby can change the entire lifestyle.
But when these symptoms become severe and make it difficult for you to carry on with your daily work and routine, it needs utmost attention. Other symptoms of postpartum depression include:
Feeling sad or crying without a reason
Sleeping too much
Tired but unable to sleep
Eating too much or too little
Difficulty in remembering things
Feeling angry or anxious frequently
Severe mood changes
No control over emotions
Thoughts about harming yourself or the baby
Feeling helpless or worthless
Postpartum Depression: Diagnosis
It is important to take care of yourself and your mental health after the arrival of the baby. There should not be any shame in going to a doctor or any mental health professional for help.
Your doctor will usually talk with you about your feelings, thoughts and mental health to distinguish between a short-term case of postpartum baby blues and a more severe form of depression, according to Mayo Clinic.
Postpartum Depression: Treatment
The treatment depends on the risk factors, causes and the individual needs of a patient.
The treatment may involve medicines, therapy or a combination of both.
Therapy: Your doctor may recommend you regular therapy sessions to handle the triggers and symptoms of postpartum depression. You can seek help in therapy from a psychologist or psychiatrist. They will help you understand your triggering points, set realistic goals and help you track the progress.
Therapy is helpful and effective in the longer run.
Antidepressants : Your doctor may also recommend you with a few medicines or antidepressants that may help you calm down and curb the overpowering symptoms of depression. These medicines may enter your breast milk but there are medicines that have no risks on the baby. In case of confusion, you can always discuss it with your doctor.
You need to understand that postpartum depression can be managed and severe cases may lead to chronic depression. It is advisable to continue with the medicines and therapy as long as the doctor suggests, carelessness can lead to relapse. Other things you can do is engage in fun activities that you enjoy, spend time with your friends and family, join groups of new mothers to discuss your issues and seek medical help whenever needed.
(If you know someone or are personally dealing with postpartum mental health issues, know that you are not alone. Reach out to the NIMHANS Perinatal Mental Health Helpline - 8105711277 )
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