Childbirth is considered to be the most treasured, enthralling, and exhausting experience of a woman’s life. While it is accompanied by the feelings of immense love, gratification, and new beginnings, for some women it may lead to severe stress and depression as well.
Postpartum Depression is a real disorder, and it can’t be ignored. Statistics show that as many as 15% of all new mothers suffer from Postpartum Depression of varying severity.
However, with counseling and medication, the depression can be treated and in fact, completely avoided. In this post, we discuss the Postpartum Depression, its causes, symptoms, and treatments, and more.
What is Postpartum Depression?
A woman’s body, emotions, and social life go through major changes post-pregnancy, right after the delivery of the child.
While most new mothers struggle to deal with changes in the first couple of weeks of motherhood, for some adjusting to these changes can take longer. This is accompanied by feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness.
When the ‘baby blues’ lead to Postpartum symptoms of depression, doctors call this Postpartum Depression. It is equally likely to occur in first-time mothers and the ones who have experienced childbirth before.
Psychologists classify Postpartum depression as a severe form of depression, which needs medical attention. However, early diagnosis of Postpartum depression and acceptance is even more important.
What Causes the Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum symptoms of depression can occur due to one or a combination of the following causes.
Physiological and Hormonal Causes
A woman’s body produces reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) at a considerably high rate during pregnancy. However, these hormone levels start dropping sharply immediately after the delivery and come to the pre-pregnancy levels within 3 days. This leads the women’s body into mayhem sometimes!
Further, post-pregnancy body changes like weight gain and stretch marks may also contribute to depression.
Social and Environmental Causes
Childbirth is associated with a lot of additional responsibilities, workload and social expectations to meet. The pressure of being a good mother can take a toll on the mental and emotional health of a new mother. If not prepared to handle the post-pregnancy situation, it can lead to depression and anxiety.
One underlying cause of Postpartum depression can also be family conflicts and the ones with one’s own self.
Were you not prepared for this pregnancy? Are you seeing your career swirl down due to the child? Is your partner not co-operative? All of these causes can also lead to Postpartum symptoms of depression.
Postpartum Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of Postpartum Depression can range from the common visible effects of exhaustion to severe indications in the form of mental and physical signs of trauma.
Mild Symptoms (only persistent appearance needs medical attention) are the following.
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Sadness and crying
- Irregular appetite
Severe Symptoms (Immediate counseling and medical attention required) are the following.
- Severe fatigue and restlessness
- Inconsolable crying
- Complete social withdrawal
- Severe and frequent mood swings
- Complete loss of appetite
- Physically harming oneself or the baby
- Suicidal thoughts
Prevention of Postpartum Depression
While Postpartum symptoms of depression are common, it is possible to prevent them. All you need is the right guidance and awareness.
The medical counselor shall keep a track of both the physiological and psychological changes in the to-be mother’s body during pregnancy.
Counseling sessions during pregnancy play an important role in early detection and prevention of Postpartum symptoms. The same exercise becomes even more important in the next few days after childbirth.
How to Treat Postpartum Depression?
While the Postpartum Depression is an undesirable and potentially harmful situation, it can be treated and cured. In fact, professional help is very important if one does not want to stay with the Postpartum symptoms for weeks and months altogether.
If any of the Postpartum symptoms of depression persist for more than two weeks after the delivery, one should see the doctor right away. Depending upon the diagnosis of the severity of the depression, a doctor may recommend the use of anti-depressants.
Other probable solutions to cure Postpartum Depression are therapy and self-care. Counseling sessions and therapy by professionals are effective in subtly curing depression, with minimal use of drugs and anti-depressants.
Postpartum Depression is common, and you can get rid of it with the right counseling and treatment. In fact, if you are vigilant, you can prevent the situation from arising.
Nevertheless, acknowledging the disorder and having awareness is what is most important.