Postpartum depression can happen to a woman within a few months after giving birth.
Postpartum depression may also occur to a woman who experiences stillbirth or miscarriage. It causes the woman to feel worthless, hopeless, and very sad, which then results to trouble with regards to bonding and caring for the baby.
“Baby blues” is different from this type of depression. In baby blues, the mother may experience the feeling of being overwhelmed, teary, and moody as well as trouble sleeping. These feelings may occur along with happiness about the baby. Baby blues usually disappears within or after a couple of weeks while depression can last for months.
In rare cases, the depression may become severe leading to postpartum psychosis. The mother may experience hallucinations or seeing or hearing things that doesn’t exist. She may act strange, which may impose a danger to her baby and herself. This makes early treatment for this disorder very important.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
The exact cause of this type of depression is not clear. However, a number of reasons can cause depression, which includes: lifestyle, emotion, and physical factors. Depression is also said to run in the family.
After giving birth, certain hormonal changes happen in the woman’s body. This includes a drop in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. The low levels of these hormones may contribute to postpartum depression. Thyroid gland hormones may also drop after delivery. This may cause the woman to experience feelings of depression, sluggishness, and tiredness. The changes in metabolism, blood pressure, and blood volume can also stress the body which may contribute to mood swings and fatigue.
A pregnant woman are often slept deprived and stressed, which is a contributing factor to this type of depression. The woman may experience anxiety with regards to caring for a newborn. Pregnant patients may also feel ugly about themselves. These factors are contributing factors of postpartum depression.
Another factor that contributes to this type of depression is the lifestyle. This includes problems with siblings of the unborn. Financial problems, exhaustion, lack of support from loved ones and partner, and breastfeeding problems are lifestyle factors that contribute to depression.
In some cases, women with a family history of postpartum depression are more likely to develop the disorder.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of baby blues and postpartum depression have certain similarities. These include anxiety, mood swings, irritability, sleeping trouble, crying, and sadness. However, the symptoms of this type of depression last much longer and more severe. They may interfere with a woman’s ability to handle daily tasks and caring for the baby.
Symptoms of this type of depression include: insomnia, loss of appetite, severe mood swings, lack of joy, lack of interest in sex, severe fatigue, intense anger and irritability, harming self, harming the baby, withdrawal from friends and families, intense guilt, and feelings of shame. If untreated, the disorder may last for more than a year and may lead to its severe form.
Complications of Postpartum Depression
If left untreated, it can interfere with the mother’s ability to bond and care for the child. This can cause problems with the family. It can lead to problems with the child’s development such as: eating and sleeping difficulties, and behavioral problems. Hyperactivity, temper tantrums, poor language development is also common to children with mothers with this disorder.
Furthermore, untreated postpartum depression can lead to more severe problems such as chronic depressive disorder and postpartum psychosis. Even treated, it episodes of major depression may reoccur. In cases of postpartum psychosis, the woman may experience symptoms such as: paranoia, harming the baby or self, delusions, hallucinations, disorientation, and confusion.
Treatment of Postpartum Depression
Treatment of this disorder may vary depending on the needs of the patient and the severity of depression. Mothers experiencing baby blues doesn’t necessarily require treatment. It usually disappears on its own. The patient may only need enough rest and support from friends and family. It is also recommended for the patient to avoid stress.
Treatment of this depression may require a combination of treatment modalities, which includes hormone therapy, medications such as antidepressants, and counseling. It is essential for the patient to talk about her concerns with a professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. This can aid the patient to deal with current feelings. It can also help in solving the patient’s problems. In some cases, participation of family members and friends may be necessary.
A common treatment mode for depression includes the use of medications such as antidepressants. However, before embarking on this type of treatment, it is important to first consult a doctor. This is because some medications may enter the mother’s breast milk, which may cause side effects for the infant. Certain medications may be use, which can reduce the risk of side effects for the baby.
Postpartum depression patients due to low levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may be treated using hormone therapy. Hormone therapy involves replacing loss hormones.