The birth of a baby can cause a rollercoaster of powerful emotions. They might range from excitement, joy, sadness and feelings of emptiness and anxiety. If you feel this way every time for more than 2 weeks, during or even after your pregnancy, you might be suffering from Postpartum Depression and it is necessary to seek out help.
What is the meaning of postpartum?
The literal meaning of “Postpartum” means post childbirth. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness which affects the behavior and physical health of mothers. Sad, blunted or empty feelings don’t seem to go away, which will create depression and interfere with your everyday life. You might not feel too connected to your newborn, have a feeling like you’re not your baby’s mother, or that you do not have feelings of love and care for your baby.
Between 50% to 80% of new mommies experience an episode of what is known as “baby blues,” which is characterized by mild but undeniable sadness, exhaustion, unstable mood, and a sense of fear.
What are the causes of postpartum?
There’s not a single cause of postpartum depression, however, physical and emotional issues might play a role.
Physical changes: Post childbirth, one witnesses a high drop in hormones (progesterone & estrogen) in the body which may contribute towards postpartum depression. Other hormones which are produced by the thyroid gland may also drop strongly. This can lead to feeling tired, quiet, slow, and depressed.
Emotional issues: When you’re overwhelmed and deprived of sleep, you may have problems tackling even the slightest of problems. You might have feelings of anxiety over “what ifs” of taking care of your newborn. You might feel that you’re less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to a woman’s mental health and thus lead to postpartum depression.
How long does PPD last?
Without any treatment, postpartum depression may last up to several months or even a few years.
What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
Many a times, Postpartum depression is initially mistaken as “baby blues” but the signs and symptoms of this are comparatively more intense and more prolonged interfering with your homeostasis and the ability to lead a normal life. Symptoms may occur earlier, during or within the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression includes:
- Unstoppable and excessive crying
- Difficulty in connecting with your baby
- Depressed mood and feeling sad, anxious and worrisome
- Withdrawal from close friends and family
- Reduced interest in pleasurable activities
- Intense level of anger and irritability
- Feeling that you’re not good enough as a mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or shame
- Feelings of restlessness and fatigue
- Feeling tired almost all the time
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the newborn
- Suicidal thoughts
Who is at a higher risk?
There are various known psychological and social risk factors. They include:
(1) lower social class,
(2) life stressors during pregnancy,
(3) complicated pregnancy/birth,
(4) difficult relationship with family or partner,
(5) lack of support from family or friends,
(6) prior history of psychopathology (depression, anxiety),
(7) chronic stressors postpartum (this can include problems with child care and difficult infant temperament),
(9) unplanned pregnancy,
(10) ambivalence over becoming a pregnant,
(11) poor relationship with own mother,
(12) history of sexual abuse,
(13) lack of a confidante,
(14) bottle feeding, and
(15) depression during pregnancy
After delivery of the newborn, postpartum depression affects many women. Seeking treatment and talking to a therapist can benefit not only you, but your family, the father and the little one.