You carry your baby 9 months in your womb; 6 years in your arms; and for a lifetime in your heart. The feeling of becoming a mother for the very first time is irreplaceable. Nevertheless, postpartum depression is a thing to be dealt with care. This piece will help us to find out how common is postpartum depression? and how can an individual deal with it positively and successfully.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
After a woman gives birth to a baby, she undergoes major emotional and physical changes. PPD or Postpartum Depression is a multifaceted mixture of behavioral, emotional, and physical changes that occurs in many women after they have given birth to a child. Postpartum Depression is a major depressive disorder that starts to show up after 4 weeks from delivery.
PPD can be caused due to social, psychological, or hormonal reasons. It can range from mild to severe, however, it can also be treated by medicine as well as counseling at the right time.
The term postpartum originates from two distinct Latin words – post, which means after, and partum, which means giving birth. This is categorized as depressive behavior because of its suddenness and relatively unreasonable depressive feelings.
It is noticed that around 75% of the new mothers experience postpartum depression Australia among which around 15% exhibit severe symptoms of the same.
Chemical Factors Involved
There had been multiple studies conducted worldwide to understand the role of hormones in postpartum depression. However, despite the far-reaching advancement in the field of medical science and psychiatry, a clear answer to this question remains unattainable.
It is observed that a category of women is more sensitive to the functioning of the reproductive hormones and therefore are more prone to exhibit postpartum depressive behavior.
The chemical changes that occur during and after delivery involve a swift decline in the hormonal level. This is where the researchers failed to strike a chord as it is still unclear as to what relationship this decline of hormones has with the ensuing depression. However, it is also a fact that the reproductive hormones – estrogen and progesterone, increase manifold during pregnancy. The level of these hormones suddenly drops drastically post-delivery and again goes back to the normal level after three days from the delivery.
The mother’s body at times fails to cope with such sudden changes and exhibits changes in behavior.
Social Factors Involved
There can be a wide range of social factors that can cause PPD which include dysfunctional marriage, marital violence, single motherhood, financial insecurity, immigrant status, personality disorder, etc. However, it is also observed that the social reasons for PPD vary drastically from one region to another. For example, in some sections of the society, social discrimination toward the girl child, and an increased rate of female foeticide and infanticide causes an immense rate of postnatal depression in the mother. There are also unavoidable issues like the indifferent or hostile attitude of the spouse or the in-laws toward the mother that can cause PPD.
Psychological Factors Involved
Anxiety remains the major factor that determines the level of PPD in most women. The medication during the pregnancy and the surgeries performed on her during the delivery might cause prenatal depression in her.
It is also detected that pregnant women living in the same ward along with other women sharing similar symptoms tend to exhibit more postpartum depressivebehavior compared to those staying in separate cabins. Therefore, a conclusion can be drawn from this, that the sociodemographic structure highly determines the extent of PPD.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
What does postpartum depression feel like? To know this, you have to understand the symptoms one experiences while suffering from PPD.
- Changes in appetite
- Extreme fatigue
- Disrupted sleep
- Dwindling libido
- Frequent mood swings
Some additional depressive behavioral traits exhibited in PPD are:
- Loss of happiness
- Continuous despair
- Feeling aloof from the baby, showing no or limited interest toward him/her
- Unexplained spells of weeping
- Inexplicable outrage or irritability
- A feeling of hopelessness,triviality, and loneliness
- Destructive or harmful thoughts
- Lack of concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
Normally these symptoms do not exceed 2-4 weeks, however, if it does, it might be a sign of an extreme case of PPD and require immediate attention.
Types Of Postpartum Depression
PPD can be divided into 3 subcategories:
- Baby Blues:
70% of women experience baby blues post-delivery, which includes mood swings wherein, you feel a surge of happiness in a moment followed by acute sadness in the next. The other symptoms include a relentless urge to cry, restlessness, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, etc. The baby blues can last for a couple of hours post-childbirth or up to a couple of weeks. Baby blues mostly does not require professional help and can be addressed through family discussions and compassion from the partner’s end.
- Postpartum Depression (PPD):
This is likely to occur from a few days to a few months from childbirth. It is severe in tenacity from the “baby blues” and shows symptoms similar to it but in a more aggressive way. The symptoms primarily include irritability, lack of concentration, anxiety, despair, unhappiness, aloofness from the baby, etc. This should and can be treated with immediate effect by professional experts. It is observed that male postpartum depression is also a thing to reckon with as men also show signs of emotional indifference or petulance post fatherhood.
- Postpartum Psychosis:
This emerges as a serious problem experienced by new mothers. It starts popping up within 3 months from delivery. It includes tendencies of severe aloofness from reality and hallucinations. The person experiencing postpartum psychosis becomes delusional and starts believing in extremely irrational things. In many cases, such patients become insomniacs, agitated, outrageous, fidgety, and destructive. The women experiencing postpartum psychosis need immediate medical attention which includes counseling, medication, and if needed, hospitalization.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
There are different treatment procedures applicable for different women by a postpartum depression therapist. The doctor might prescribe an antidepressant or antianxiety pills to the patient. He or she might also suggest psychotherapy which would include group discussions and emotional support.
There are certain added non-medical treatment procedures that a new mother and her near and dear ones can follow:
- Regular exercising under the guidance of an expert. Taking walks and taking in fresh air early in the morning helps.
- Pragmatic thinking while setting expectations for yourself and your baby.
- Talk elaborately to people who matter. Take help from an expert in the initial stage if required.
- Follow a regimented diet.
- Be prepared for both good as well as bad days.
- Improve your relationship with your partner. Talk to him more and try to build a feeling of belongingness.
- Entertain the least number of visitors once you step into your house from the hospital.
- Try and connect with your best friends and talk to them often. The same goes for family members.
- Try to screen your phone and social media.
- Sleep as much as you can while your baby sleeps.
How common is postpartum depression? You need not delve into anxiety while pondering over this question. Do have the belief that is normal and curable if you are experiencing it. Take good care of your physical as well as mental health and enjoy your motherhood to the fullest.