The birth of a baby is a joyful event – you are welcoming a new human being into the world, and that event alone triggers a lot of powerful emotions. However, positive emotions are not the only ones being triggered, in fact, as a young mother you might feel fear or anxiety, or even – depression.
Before we dissect the symptoms, causes, and ways you can help yourself if you feel depressed after giving birth, we need to establish that the experience of postpartum “baby blues” and postpartum depression are not the same things.
Post-pregnancy depression is a more severe, long-lasting disorder, while baby blues symptoms usually start manifesting two or three days after delivery, and can last up to two weeks.
If you or somebody you know struggles with postpartum depression, in the following text you will get all the necessary information that will help you understand this condition and give you the means to treat it.
What is postnatal depression in pregnancy?
Postnatal depression in pregnancy is a complicated feeling – an emotional, physical and behavioral shift in a women’s everyday functioning.
It is a form of depression that, in some women, begins within 4 weeks after giving birth. Given the fact that postpartum depression is linked to social, psychological, and chemical adjustments that happen to women’s bodies after giving birth, this state is diagnosed based on the length of time that passed after delivery, and the severity of it.
The percentage of women experiencing postpartum depression (PPD) is in fact pretty high, and the most effective ways to treat it is through medication, psychotherapy and psychoeducation.
What causes post-pregnancy depression?
Even though the exact causes are unclear, there is a combination of certain factors that can trigger postpartum depression.
The chemical, social and psychological factors
The chemical adjustments we mentioned stem from the rapid hormonal drop occurring after delivering a baby after estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, have increased ten times during the actual pregnancy. These hormones drop heavily after delivery but bounce back 3 days after a woman has given birth.
Some of the other chemical factors involve low thyroid hormone levels, underlying medical conditions, sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol abuse, and inadequate diet.
When it comes to social and psychological changes, in addition to the chemical ones, they are usually the most responsible for increasing the risk of depression.
As a large number of new mothers experience the “baby blues” after giving birth, 1 out of 10 of them will develop more serious symptoms, leading to a more serious condition. This can be especially common with women who have had experienced mood disorders, or if those mood disorders run in the family.
Other emotional triggers can be stressful events in the family, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, financial difficulties, or social isolation.
Postpartum depression symptoms
Even though, in the beginning, postnatal depression can be mistaken for baby blues, the symptoms of post-pregnancy depression are far more severe and last much longer. In fact, when progressed, these symptoms can interfere with your ability to take care of your newborn, and handle your everyday life.
These symptoms can develop before, during, or after giving birth, and here is the list of the most common ones:
● Severe mood swings or overall depressed mood
● Difficulties in bonding with your newborn
● Uncontrolled crying
● Loss of energy and overall fatigue
● Insomnia or excessive sleeping
● Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy in your new role
● Diminished interest in activities you used to enjoy
● Anxiety and panic attacks
● Loss of appetite or overeating
● Increased anger and irritability
● Withdrawing from family and friends
● Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
● Suicidal thoughts
If these symptoms are not taken seriously and not treated in time, the depression can last for months, or even longer.
Postpartum depression risk factors
Like we already mentioned, a great number of new mothers can succumb to postnatal depression, however, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances. Here are some of the most common risk factors:
● You have experienced postpartum depression in your previous pregnancy
● You have a history when it comes to depression, or you have close family members who do
● You have a bipolar disorder
● Your baby is experiencing health problems
● You have experienced stressful events such as job loss, divorce, or the loss of a family member
● You are experiencing financial difficulties
● You’ve had multiple births
● You don’t have a strong support system
● Your pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted in some way
Post-pregnancy depression treatment
Post-pregnancy depression is treated differently, depending on the symptoms.
The treatment can include the use of medications such as antidepressants, psychotherapy, or group counseling aimed at restoring your emotional balance and educating you more about your condition.
However, in case you are breastfeeding, you can not take any medication for depression before talking to your doctor.
Possible complications of ignoring postnatal depression symptoms
If, for some reason, you choose to ignore the symptoms of postnatal depression, bear in mind that this is something that can affect bonding with your baby and the rest of your family.
If you leave it going on for too long, it may take a bad turn and transform into a more chronic disorder. It can also affect your partner and your other children, resulting in sleep deprivation, excessive crying, or difficulties in language development.
Can you do anything to prevent it? Yes, you can.
If you happen to have a known history of depression, you need to discuss it with your doctor as soon as you get pregnant, or, in a more ideal scenario, if you are planning on getting pregnant.
Your doctor will monitor your symptoms, if there are any, and prescribe you medications, even while you are pregnant. Once your baby is born, your doctor will check for any symptoms of postnatal depression, and recommend treatment accordingly. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more effective the treatment will be.
Whatever you do, do not stay idle and ignore the obvious. Our platform is here to provide you with specialists and sufficient guidelines when it comes to spotting your problemSpread the word