Postpartum depression is any moderate to severe depression that develops in a woman following the birth of a child. It can develop shortly after the birth has occurred or it can sometimes take as long as one year to manifest. It most often develops within the first three months following the baby's birth.
What Are Some Of The Causes Of Postpartum Depression
Most women experience some mood changes while they are pregnant. This is entirely normal. These mood can become pronounced just after a baby has been delivered and are most mostly related to fluctuations in hormone levels. It is important to know, however, other, non-hormonal issues can also affect a woman's mood after she has had a baby. These include things such as differences to the way in which she perceives her body image, changes in her work and/or social relationships, the often extended sleep disturbances she is experiencing because of middle of the night feedings and the experience of having significantly less time to devote to herself on a daily basis. Some women experience worry a great deal about how they will perform or function as a new mother and this can lead to serious increases in anxiety levels.
In the past, women who had these kind of feelings were said to be having "baby blues" and their feelings usually resolved themselves within a few months. It is when feelings like this persist that they move into the
These kinds of feelings were once described as "baby blues" and usually resolve themselves within a relatively short period of time without the need for any treatment.
It is when they persist for a period of more than about three months that they move into the domain of postpartum depression.
Risk Factors For Postpartum Depression
There are several known risk factors for postpartum depression and they are:
• Being younger than age 20 when the first baby is delivered;
• Alcohol or drug abuse or smoking cigarettes'
• A previous incident of depression or a previous diagnosis of bipolar or anxiety disorder;
• Having a high-risk pregnancy or a difficult delivery
• Having a close family member with either an anxiety disorder or a depressive illness;
• Having a poor relationship with their significant other or
• Having serious financial issues that are unremitting
The Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression Mimic Those Of Major Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression are very closely related to those of a major depression. Most women who are experiencing postpartum depression feel very sad and can not explain why. Some women might become very agitated and irritable. Still others experience severe disruptions to their appetite. Other women report feeling extreme guilt or a sense of worthlessness and stop being able to take pleasure in things that used to interest them a great deal in the past. Other women report trouble with their concentration or problems with their sleep patterns that are not related to their new infant. Other women begin to experience very negative feelings toward their new baby or might even begin to think about suicide or death.
There are not diagnostic tests that can be run in order to determine if a woman is suffering from postpartum depression. If you know of someone who is reporting feelings like this, a visit to her family doctor or obstetrician is necessary. The doctor may administer something called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale which is an extremely accurate test that screens for depression in general.
There Are Many Different Ways To Treat Postpartum Depression
A new mother that is suffering from symptoms that may be postpartum depression should seek help as quickly as possible. It is important to know that she need not suffer in silence. Help is available and relatively easy to come by. There are some measures she can take before help arrives and these include:
• Getting as much rest as possible, sleeping when the baby sleeps;
• Enlisting the help of the significant other and family members with household chores;
• Hiring a mother's helper for a few hours a day;
• Seeking out a support group.
The benefits that can be derived from therapy should never be discounted. There are also a number of anti-depressant medications which do not pass through the breast milk and which can be a tremendous help. Using medication or therapy provided by a professional mental health practitioner can make all the difference in the world and either greatly reduce or eliminate entirely the symptoms of postpartum depression for nearly every woman who is experiencing it.