What is Postpartum Depression?

November 12, 2012

What is Postpartum Depression?

Having a baby is often a very happy occasion, but sometimes the mother can suffer from postpartum depression which can cause serious stress and doubt for the new mother.

Almost 80% of women who have recently given birth experience some form of “baby blues.” This is a slight depression where the woman has a variety of possible mood disturbances such as being afraid, upset, confused, or alone. It is also very common during this time for the mother to have conflicting feelings towards the infant which will often instill an idea of her being a bad mother. This period of time normally lasts from a few days to a few weeks after giving birth. Do not be alarmed, feeling this way is perfectly normal and the feelings should eventually pass. When the symptoms become worse and depression sets in, it could be a sign of postpartum depression.

Causes for Depression

One of the major differences between the “baby blues” and full blow postpartum depression is that the latter can often effect a mother’s ability to care for her baby. About one in five women will develop this condition but it is not noticeable until a few months after giving birth. What makes a woman’s “baby blues” state become something more severe? There are a few risk factors for the development of the depression which include:

  • Any type of history of major depression episodes

  • Lack of social support network

  • Psychosocial stress and constant high stress situations

  • History of premenstrual dysphoric disorder

  • Hormonal imbalances associated with the sudden shift in hormones after birth

  • Family history of postpartum depression

  • Previous pregnancy problems like stillbirths or miscarriages

  • Adapting to the physical changes after birth

  • Emotional changes due to adapting to an infant being in the household

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Recognizing the symptoms of postpartum depression is extremely important to the health of the mother and child. If left untreated or unnoticed for a long period of time, women with severe cases may become suicidal which can endanger mother and child alike. While some symptoms may be disregarded as simple moodiness, do not put off talking to your doctor as soon as possible if you are concerned about the welfare of you or a loved one. Things to look for are:

  • Constantly depressed state

  • Problems with sleeping

  • Appetite issues

  • Fatigue

  • Hard time enjoying activities that were pleasurable in the past

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Fee

  • Feelings of failing as a parent

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Mothers will often worry about the welfare of their child because they may be thinking negative things about the child

In many cases, mothers thinking about hurting or abandoning their child do not ever act upon these impulses. On the other hand, there are cases where mothers consider killing themselves and the child because they are so afraid of abandoning the child or simply being a bad parent.

Can it get worse?

If postpartum depression is allowed to go untreated, it is possible that the woman will eventually act upon her negative thoughts. Speaking to a doctor as soon as possible is recommended because there is another type of depression known as postpartum psychosis. Women suffering from this disorder are much more likely to act upon their negative thoughts. It is rare among the population and symptoms of psychosis will normally appear about a month after giving birth. They may being to hallucinate or suffer from delusions. Even though women suffering from this type of psychosis can seem perfectly okay, they can suffer from continuous bouts of depression and are more likely to redevelop the condition after having more children. In other words, do not allow you or your loved one to simply suffer through these emotions on your own. Take the time to seek out help in order to ensure that everyone gets the assistance needed.

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