Postpartum refers to the period following childbirth. During the initial days of giving birth, most mothers experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, or "baby blues,". These ‘newborn blues’ typically disappear in 3 to 5 days for most mothers.
However, if your baby blues persist or if you feel depressed, hopeless, or empty for more than two weeks, you may have postpartum depression. It is not typical or expected for mothers to experience severe or long lasting hopelessness or emptiness after having a baby. This disorder that affects the brain, behavior, and physical health may be postpartum depression.
Feelings can range from despondent sadness to persistently depressing, life-interfering, or empty feelings. You may feel distant from your child, as if you are not the mother, or you might not feel any love or affection for the child. These emotions range from moderate to strong. Anxiety disorders can also affect mothers during or after childbirth. PPD is a form of severe depression that manifests within four weeks of giving birth, according to the DSM-5, a manual for classifying mental diseases.
Postpartum depression is diagnosed based on the severity of the condition and the interval between conception and onset. After birth, hormone levels rapidly decrease due to chemical changes. Still unclear is the precise relationship between this decline and depression. However, the female reproductive chemicals progesterone and estrogen are known to increase tenfold in concentration during pregnancy. After delivery, they immediately decline. The rapid decline in these hormones in addition to other biological changes, as well as the mental and social changes of having a baby can increase your risk of depression.
After giving birth, most new mothers experience "baby blues," but 1 in 10 women will experience a more serious and protracted depression after giving birth. And a more dangerous illness called postpartum psychosis affects about 1 in 1,000 women.
Dads are not exempt from the effects of the changes either. According to research, roughly 1 in 10 new fathers experience depression the year their child is born.
After delivery, some natural changes can result in symptoms comparable to depression. When a new baby arrives home, many mothers experience overwhelming feelings. Some women choose not to disclose their symptoms. When a new mother is unhappy when she should be pleased, she might feel shame, embarrassment, or guilty. They can be concerned about being viewed as bad mothers.
Any woman can experience depression throughout her pregnancy or after giving birth. You are not a bad mother because of it. You don't need to endure pain with your infant. Help is available. Your doctor can assist you in determining whether depression or another factor is to blame for your symptoms.
However, if you notice any of the following depressive symptoms for longer than two weeks, contact your physician, therapist, or nurse:
• Either too little or too much sleep
• Difficulty paying attention or making decisions
• Having issues with memory
• Feeling unworthy, responsible, or like a bad mother
• Losing interest in or enjoyment from past pastimes
• Withdrawal from family and friends
• Experiencing persistent headaches, aches, discomforts, or gastrointestinal issues
• Feeling antsy or depressed
• Sad, helpless, or overpowered feelings
• Many tears
• Considering harming the infant
• Having ideas about harming oneself
• Not caring about the baby, not feeling attached to the infant, or thinking the baby belongs to someone else.
• Lacking motivation or energy
• Eating excessively or insufficiently
To begin treatment, if you are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms, you should immediately speak with a healthcare provider. According to a reliable source, medication, specific therapy, and support groups can all be used as postpartum depression treatments. The best course of treatment is typically a mix of medicine and counseling.
To differentiate between a brief incidence of postpartum baby blues and a more serious type of depression, your doctor, counselor, or therapist will typically speak with you about your emotions, thoughts, and mental health. Postpartum depression is a common occurrence, so don't be ashamed. Let your doctor know about your symptoms to develop a successful new treatment. Your doctor may perform the following as part of your evaluation:
• Conduct a depression screening, which can involve asking you to complete a questionnaire.
• Order testing for your blood to see if an underactive thyroid is causing your signs and symptoms.
• Request additional tests to determine other potential reasons for your symptoms if necessary.
Treatment and recovery times vary depending on the intensity of your anxiety and your unique demands. Your doctor may treat your underactive thyroid or underlying ailment, or they may send you to the right specialist. You might also get a mental health specialist recommendation from your doctor.
Usually, the baby blues go away on their own in a matter of days to 1-2 weeks. While waiting:
• Take every opportunity to rest.
• Accept assistance from friends and family.
• Get to know other new mothers.
• Make time to look for yourself.
• Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol since they might exacerbate mood fluctuations.
Psychotherapy, talk therapy, or psychological counseling is frequently used to treat postpartum depression, along with medication or a combination of the two.
The most common forms of postpartum depression treatment are:
Antidepressants are a reliable source of treatment for postpartum depression. Many of the characteristics of depression can be alleviated with these medications, but it usually takes those 6 to 8 weeks to fully kick in. You might need to test a few different medicines in some circumstances before you discover one that is effective and has tolerable side effects.
All antidepressants have potential adverse effects, varying in severity. Antidepressant side effects might include agitation or anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, and migraines. People who breastfeed have access to treatment and medication choices. Your doctor can advise you on which one is safe to use while breastfeeding.
Hormone Balancing Therapy
The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are drastically reduced after giving birth. According to research, this sudden hormone shift may contribute to postpartum depression in certain women. These factors suggest that hormone therapy will help to treat postpartum depression. However, a few adverse effects of estrogen-based hormone therapy include:
• Alterations in the flow of urine
• Hair fall
• Her blood pressure is high.
• Increased size of uterine fibroids
• Infected yeast in the vagina
• Weight fluctuates
• Nauseous and dizzy
• Stomach pains
• Headaches and migraines
Self-care and Natural Cure
It would help if you didn't attempt to cure postpartum depression alone because it is a serious and incapacitating disorder. But at-home routines like maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising moderately regularly, indulging in yoga or meditation, and spending quality time in natural environments may make you feel better, particularly when combined with conventional therapies like medicine and counseling. It's crucial to take care of yourself, reach out to loved ones, and seek support when you need it because postpartum depression can feel draining and isolating. Joining support groups may also be beneficial. Breastfeeding difficulties may result from postpartum psychosis treatment. Breastfeeding is challenging when a mother is separated from her infant, and several drugs used to treat postpartum psychosis are not advised for nursing mothers. Your doctor can assist you in overcoming these difficulties if you are going through postpartum psychosis. The other best alternative is mental health counseling from a trusted source.
Therapies for Postpartum Depression
Discussing your worries with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist might be beneficial. Through psychotherapy, you can learn improved coping mechanisms for your emotions, problem-solving skills, realistic goal-setting, and good situational responses. Therapy for families or relationships might be helpful at times.
Your physician may suggest an antidepressant. Any drug you take while nursing will pass into the breast milk. However, there is little chance of adverse consequences for your infant when taking most antidepressants during breastfeeding. Together with your doctor, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various antidepressants. Postpartum depression signs usually get better with the right care. Postpartum depression may sometimes worsen and progress to chronic depression. After you start to feel better, it's crucial to keep up with your treatment. Early treatment termination increases the risk of relapse.