Postpartum depression is a severe form of baby blues which mothers may suffer from after giving birth. There are no clear causes to depression after childbirth. Mothers who suffer from postpartum depression usually think they are abnormal or weak and feel bad about it. However, postnatal depression is pretty common nowadays. Statistics shown that out of every 10 women, there will be 1 mother to be affected after baby delivery. Women who are most prone to be at risk of having post natal depression include those with past psychiatric illness, little support and who were depressed during pregnancy.
The baby blues is a mild form of depression which is usually common among new mothers. Hormonal changes, sudden decrease in hormones estrogen and progesterone levels after giving birth, together with sleep loss, are likely causes of baby blues. Mild depression or commonly known as baby blues, only last for a few hours or up to 2 weeks after delivery.
If you have depression after childbirth, you are likely to have an increased risk of depression after the next pregnancy. In fact, post natal depression is more common in second time mothers or among older mothers. However, age only play a small part in the causation of depression in the puerperium. A combination of mind, body, social interactions are likely to contribute to the cause as childbirth brings significant psycho social and physiological changes in a woman’s life. These changes could compound anxiety, stress and worries during pregnancy that may increase the risk of depression after delivery. If there was a family member who had mental illness before not limited to depression, it predisposes a new mummy to the risk. Serious cases of feeling depressed and hopelessness can last for a year or even longer if left untreated.
Factors that can contribute to postpartum depression:
- Personal or family history of depression.
- Depression during pregnancy.
- High risk, difficulties during labor.
- Postpartum pain or complications from delivery.
- Physical changes your body goes though after delivery.
- Anxiety or unrealistic expectations about childbirth, motherhood and parenting.
- Infant with high level of needs requirement.
- Exhaustion from caring for a new baby or multiple children.
- Stress from changes at home or work.
- Feeling a loss of identity.
- Lack of emotional and social support.
- Relationship difficulties.
- Changes in family’s finance.
If you are feeling depressed after baby’s birth, you may be embarrassed, reluctant or not wanting to admit it. But if you ever experience signs or symptoms of post natal depression, please inform your care provider, confinement nanny, love ones about it as it is so important. There is no shame or to be embarrassed about. With awareness, early intervention and proper treatment, there will be less of a chance for serious problems and much greater chance of rapid recovery. Untreated postnatal depression can affect the ability of the mother to bond with the newborn and possibly result in problems in the emotional and intellectual development of the baby. Some men can also be affected with these depression signs and symptoms especially if their partners have postpartum depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
- Severe mood swings.
- Low self-esteem.
- Poor concentration.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Constant or extreme fatigue.
- Sleep and eating disorders
- Changes in appetite.
- Lack of joy in life.
- High expectations and overly demanding attitude.
- Withdrawal from family and friends.
- A sense of emotional numbness or feeling trapped.
- Lack of concern for yourself or baby.
- Excessive concern for your baby.
- Reduced libido, loss of sexual interest or sexual responsiveness.
- A strong sense of failure or inadequacy.
- Difficulty in making sense of things.
- Increase anxiety and panic attacks.
Treatment and Self Care for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a recognized and treatable medical problem. The depressed mood leads to a lack of interest in all activities and being unable to cope with daily routines. It is important to remember that you are not alone in postpartum depression. The first step to winning over depression after childbirth starts from yourself. Redirect attention to yourself by caring for your mental and physical well-being. Asking for help takes a lot of courage to do, but it would benefit mummy, infant and rest of family. If you are diagnosed with post natal depression or you think you may have the condition, it is very important that you seek professional advice and care. The management and treatment of postnatal depression varies according to individual needs. Depressed mummies can try these simple coping techniques tips to help aid in the recovery:
- Get a healthy amount of rest and sleep.
- Eat properly. Have a balanced diet of grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Engage confinement nanny or care giver for help with child care and household responsibilities.
- Talk with other mothers. Join support groups for new moms.
- Get connected with family and friends.
- Spend time alone with your partner.
- Individual counseling or psychotherapy.
- Antidepressant or other medications.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take part in physical activity every day.
Try to get as much help with the baby as possible. Emotional support and reassurance from partner and family as well as allowing the depressed mummy to express herself and talk about her feelings, is another technique.
Postnatal psychosis or also known as puerperal psychosis, is a rare but most severe form of mental health illness after childbirth. It need to be treated as a psychiatric emergency which hospitalization is required as there is a high risk of harming oneself and infant. The baby must be under a safe care with a caregiver or confinement nanny. If you believe you have a high risk of developing postpartum psychosis, it is recommended to seek treatment from psychiatrist and have specialist care during pregnancy. Everyone in your family or relationship with, should be well aware of your risk of postpartum psychosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Postnatal Psychosis:
- Delusional beliefs.
- Feeling suspicious or fearful.
- Feeling very confused.
- Disorganised behaviour or behaving out of character.
- Loss of inhibitions.
Treatment of puerperal psychosis is critical to allow mummy to recover fast and return to bond with the infant. Some of the treatment includes electroconvulsive therapy, anti psychotic medication, antidepressants or mood stabilizers.
As you can see, the period of pre-natal, during pregnancy and after pregnancy can sometimes be met with various unavoidable psychological disturbances and disorders. But with the heightened awareness of depression today, relatives and friends can recognize warning signs and symptoms and intervene early. Many hospitals today also have excellent programmes to support women who are struggling with new motherhood. There are more support groups, help hotlines and forums where depressed mummies can connect with each other, who can empathize with sleepless nights and inconsolable crying. They also share happy tales of snuggles and first smiles. Hence with awareness, early recognition, and treatment, the recovery from postpartum depression can be well accomplished.