Postpartum Depression (PPD)

By Refadoc, Posted on : Monday, 28 September 2015 - 10:49 am IST

Postpartum Depression (PPD) - Overview

The birth of a child can be the onset for a lot of responsibilities for the parents, especially for the mother. For her, it could be a mix of so many different emotions, starting from joy and excitement of nurturing a new life to fear and anxiety of taking care of a child completely on her own. One of the onsets of these emotions could also be depression. ‘Baby Blues’ is the name given to this condition which often sets in women after the birth of their child, the first one preferably. This can lead to the mother to experience a lot of emotions which include mood swings and consistent crying followed by a feeling of helplessness.

Some new moms tend to carry on with this period for a long duration of time. This phase of consistent depression is also known as Postpartum Depression. When, in some of the rare cases, this condition goes on to an extreme phase, it can be known as Postpartum Psychosis. This condition should not be known to be a flaw or weakness on the part of the mother. This is more like a phase which comes and goes. Also, it can be easily treated, with a combination of therapy and medications and can lead to the mother enjoying her phase of motherhood.

Causes for Postpartum Depression:

There is no single known cause for Postpartum Depression.

Many contributing factors such as physical factors, mental factors as well as lifestyle changes can come out to be the real reason for Postpartum Depression.

Some of the major causes for Postpartum Depression are as follows:

  • Physical Changes: Once after the birth of the child, there is a dramatic change in the hormones –and progesterone. The drop in the levels of these hormones can lead to postpartum depression. Also, these can leave the person feeling sluggish and depressed. Also, the changes in the immune system as well as the blood pressure lead to the mood swings.
  • Emotional Changes: When a person is suffering from sleep deprivation, this can amount to a person from postpartum depression. Also, this leads to the person suffering from anxiety and a loss of the identity. A person feels that she has lost the control over her life and therefore, these lead towards postpartum depression.
  • Lifestyle Factors: These contributing factors lead to Postpartum depression as having a baby means indulging in dealing with the demands of the child along with other problems such as financial problems, an unsupportive spouse or lack of love from the family members can lead to Postpartum Depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The signs and symptoms for depression differ from one person to the other. However, signs of Baby Blues – which last for a couple of weeks after the birth of the baby are as follows:

  •  Frequent Mood swings
  •  Anxiousness
  •  Periods of sadness
  •  Increased irritability
  •  Consistent crying
  •  Loss of concentration
  •  Insomnia and problems with maintaining a regular sleeping pattern

Postpartum Depression can appear after the phase of Baby Blues has passed on. The signs of depression last longer and can be more intense as compared to Baby Blue symptoms. They can hamper the productivity of the mother and can reduce her capability to take care of her child in the longer run. Some of the major symptoms are as follows:

  •  Withdrawal symptoms from loved ones
  •  Insomnia
  •  Suspected guilty feelings
  •  Frequent mood swings
  •  Thoughts of self harm
  •  Fatigue
  •  Loss of appetite

If postpartum depression is left untreated, then it can go on to last for a period of many months. 

Tests and Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression

DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) Model of Psychology has classified postpartum depression to be one of the subtype of the major depressions. The depression can be diagnosed with the help of the major signs and symptoms and can develop within a period of four weeks from the birth of the child. The major signs

to diagnose postpartum depression are as follows:

  •          Depressive mood for most of the day
  •          Loss of interests in the activities which earlier were interesting to the person
  •          Change in the appetite as well as change in the weight
  •          Insomnia or hypersomnia
  •          Restlessness and fatigue
  •          An impending feeling of doom or worthlessness
  •          Inability to concentrate as well as make decisions
  •          Thoughts about suicide and self harm to oneself and the baby

Sometimes, the medical practitioner may ask you questions in order to distinguish between baby blues as well as postpartum depression. This can be done with the help of a questionnaire. Also, blood tests are done sometimes in order to check if thyroid is one of the major contributing factors for the postpartum depression.

Treatment of Postpartum Depression

Treatment of the postpartum depression is greatly depending on the severity of the symptoms that a person is suffering from.

The different treatment options are as follows:

Baby Blues: These tend to fade on their own after a period of one week or a month. Also, giving the mother the maximum rest is much needed for the cessation of the symptoms. Also, help from the family and friends are much recommended. Avoiding drinking alcohol can help to control the mood swings.

Postpartum Depression: This is often treated with the help of counselling and medication.

  • Counselling: This is done with the help of a psychologist or any other mental health professional. With the help of counselling a person can look for better ways in order to work out their feelings and therefore solve the problems and look for real life solutions out of those problems. Family and friends and their support is much appreciated during this period.
  • Antidepressants: These are the most reliable as well as proven method to deal with depression. Most of the antidepressants are used during breast feeding and have little or no side effect to the baby. This should be done in consultation with the doctor in order to check for the risks that come with the medication.
  • Hormone Therapy: Due to the lack of estrogens after the birth of the child, sometimes, the mother is given hormone therapy in which estrogens is added into the blood stream. Just like antidepressants, this should be done with the complete approval of the doctor and should be accessed beforehand to look for the risks and benefits that come along with it.

 In case you are experiencing the above mentioned symptoms, then it is recommended to see a psychologist immediately.

  • Psychologist
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