A major depression Postpartum depression (PPD), is also called postnatal depression and is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth. Postpartum depression is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes associated with having a baby and includes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers and fathers experience. The good news is postpartum depression can be treated with medication and counseling.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The chemical changes brought about by sudden and sharp drop in hormones, social and psychological changes associated with having a baby create an increased risk of depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to what normally follows childbirth and includes sadness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, excessive fatigue, decreased libido, frequent mood changes, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. However, these are also accompanied by other symptoms of major depression, which may include depressed mood, loss of pleasure, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.
Factors Associated with Getting Postpartum Depression
The major factors that can increase the risk of postpartum depression include
- Continue reading below…history of depression during pregnancy
- age at the time of pregnancy — the younger you are, the higher the risk
- ambivalence about the pregnancy
- children — the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in a subsequent pregnancy
- having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- limited social support
- living alone
- marital conflict
Types of Postpartum Depression
There are three levels of mood changes women can have after giving birth:
The “baby blues, “occurring in most women in the initial days after childbirth, are considered normal. A new mother has sudden mood swings from very happy to very sad. She may burst into tears for no reason and may feel impatient, irritable, restless, anxious, lonely or sad. The babies blues may last only a few hours or as long as one to two weeks after delivery. Joining a support group of new moms or talking with other mom’s help and does not usually require medical attention.
Postpartum depression (PPD) can happen a few days or even months after childbirth(the birth of any child, not just the first child). A woman can have feelings similar to the baby blues — sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability — but she would feel them much more strongly than she would during the baby blues. PPD often keeps a woman from doing the things she needs to do every day. Without treatment, the symptoms can get worse. Though a serious condition, PPD can be treated with medication and counseling.
Postpartum psychosis is a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers, mostly within the first three months after childbirth. It is an extreme form of illness characterized by losing touch with reality, having auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions. Other symptoms include insomnia, feeling agitated and angry, and strange feelings and behaviors. Women diagnosed with postpartum psychosis need immediate treatment and medication. They may also need hospitalization due to the associated risk of hurting themselves or someone else.
Post-partum Depression and Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually related to concerns about the baby or harming the baby may appear or worsen in the postpartum period. Occasional cases of the Panic disorder may also occur. Both conditions often coexist with depression.
Seeking Professional Treatment
Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous for new moms and their children and professional help should be sought without any delay.