Everything you need to know about Postpartum Depression
Welcoming a baby into your family is an amazing experience that can be both exciting and difficult. As an expecting mother, it can be exciting while planning baby showers and decorating the baby’s room. But as of late more information has developed as postpartum depression has affected roughly 50-75 percent of mothers shortly after the baby is born.
Sometimes the baby blues start to creep in as the due date gets closer, but often there is a switch in emotion shortly after the delivery that puzzles mothers. This is common and can make a mother feel isolated and guilty.
That’s why preparing yourself and understanding everything about postpartum depression can help you recognize, deal with, and treat PPD appropriately.
Here is what you need to know when it comes to your health and your newborn.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
It’s important to note that the statistics have such a broad range because there are different levels of postpartum depression. About 70 percent of women will experience some sort of baby blues feeling in the first to second week after birthing a newborn. This usually fades after a few weeks.
Where the depression becomes more severe is that about 15 percent of those women will experience much more serious side effects. These women may deal with serious anxiety, stress, a sense of hopelessness, and more for months after the baby is born.
Both are normal and can make a new mother (especially first-time mothers) feel inadequate to parent the baby. This ultimately leads to more stress and feelings of depression.
For mild cases, they are often called the baby blues as noted. This is when less aggressive symptoms may start to show three to five days after the baby is born. The overshadowed joy feeling may last for about two weeks. This is likely due to the estrogen and hormones that are changing following the birth of your little one.
In these cases, the symptoms may occur for a few hours each day but will subtly subside over the next two weeks as the mother gets adjusted.
When it comes to Postpartum Depression this can be a little trickier to pinpoint as far as a timeline goes. If the symptoms appear a few days after the baby is born but do not subside after two weeks, usually it is diagnosable as PPD.
However, PPD can start during pregnancy or even develop a full year after the baby is born. These symptoms become more aggressive or last for longer periods of time than the baby blues and require treatment to get better.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
The symptoms for the baby blues and postpartum depression are very relative to each other because the baby blues is in fact a mild case or introduction to PPD. Some of the symptoms may be the exact same but you end up being diagnosed with PPD because they have lasted longer than that two-week phase.
Knowing the symptoms of both are incredibly helpful and can help a new mother feel less isolated.
Baby Blues (First Two Weeks)
These milder symptoms may last within the first two weeks.
- Mood swings. Joyous one minute to overwhelmed and sad the next.
- Exhaustion makes it difficult to take care of yourself.
- Stressed, irritable, overwhelmed, anxious.
Mild symptoms that last for more than two weeks can be classified as PPD. More aggressive symptoms at any time pre- or post-pregnancy can be classified as PPD.
- Crying for more than a few hours a day, with or without explanation.
- Restlessness or oversleeping
- Binge eating or not eating at all.
- Large mood swings, irritability, anxiety, stress.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Sense of hopelessness and inability to parent.
- Feeling guilty for your emotions.
- Wanting to abandon your child and family.
- Feeling alone and unrelatable to anyone to the point of isolation.
- Feeling disconnected.
Postpartum depression or the baby blues are not limited to just these symptoms. While these are common feelings to have with PPD and the baby blues it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions similar to and different than these.
It is not a one-size-fits-all formula but knowing these are common symptoms can make a mother who is feeling unusual feel more normal about what they are experiencing.
So, what is causing all these symptoms that roughly 1 in 8 mothers experience? Well, there are a lot of different reasons that you could be experiencing these feelings of depression and sadness. It could be a combination of the things listed below or it could be just one.
If your mother, grandmother, or anyone in your family has had a history of postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, high-stress levels, or any of the following symptoms mentioned above, there is a higher chance of developing some form of PPD.
The same can be said for you as an individual. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, mood swings, or any of the related mental illness issues, you have a greater risk of being diagnosed with PPD.
This is a common reason that can also be combined with any of the others. Scientists have long studied the drop in hormones and changes in estrogen right after the baby is born. It is so significant that it is common to feel a change in mood and function.
For instance, the thyroid gland also may experience a sharp drop in hormones which can make a woman feel sluggish, tired, depressed, overly hungry, or not at all.
Young mothers actually and first-time mothers are at high risk because they are unaware of what to expect and suddenly, they may feel immature or unqualified to raise a baby because of their age. This is very common as the emotions may develop from excited to scared.
Number of Kids
A surprising factor may be that if the mother hasn’t experienced postpartum depression before and has had multiple kids, they may develop it. The two reasons behind this are that your chances increase in general when having more kids, and because more kids may mean more stress, responsibility, financial burdens, and more.
Any traumatic event that occurs pre, during or post-pregnancy can be an obvious trigger for postpartum depression. It could be something like a job loss that induces anxiety about financial stability or health issues that come with being pregnant.
While some may not classify it as a traumatic event, having a baby with a diagnosed illness, mental or physical, is also a traumatic experience that can make the mother feel like it was her fault. A mother may also feel like she is incapable of handling that responsibly.
And So On…
Just like the symptoms, there is no one experience or cause that is a guarantee to trigger PPD. The causes are individual and unique to each mother and can be at times difficult to diagnose or interpret. It is easier to detect symptoms than it is to pinpoint a cause.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
Recognizing the need for treatment is difficult but luckily the access to postpartum depression treatment is not as bad. There are a number of ways to treat postpartum depression that highly depend on the intensity of the symptoms you are feeling.
There are also a number of natural ways that one can try if they prefer not to go on medication. Let’s talk about all the different avenues you can try for treating postpartum depression.
The first treatment step for any mother experiencing mild symptoms that last longer or severe symptoms should be contacting your doctor or a medical professional. Often the doctor who you work with throughout your pregnancy or your OB-GYN will be monitoring your health and may even point out symptoms to you before you realize it.
Once you are in contact with them, and they are unaware, they can talk you through the following options depending on your symptoms.
Antidepressants are the common medication described to treat PPD. They directly affect the chemical imbalance in the brain to alter your depression and regulate your mood. This means less aggressive mood swings and intense emotions. However, the medication won’t work instantaneously and can take several weeks to work. Some mothers report unwanted side-effects and opt for more natural remedies.
Therapy is a very common pathway for women who are experiencing depression related to their pregnancies and the birth of their newborn. Therapists can help normalize the idea of struggling with these symptoms and act as a sounding board for mothers who feel they can’t relate to anyone.
Often a therapist will also put mothers in support groups so that they not only get the benefit from therapy but also can directly relate to women going through the same or similar motions. This has been a proven method for helping women struggling with baby blues and PPD.
Taking care of yourself after birthing a child is an incredibly difficult thing to do. But normalizing routines again like eating nutritious food, sleeping, and finding little things to enjoy for yourself can be very rewarding for your mental health.
It is not a simple thing to do but can be as simple as asking a family member, friend, or the baby’s father to take the child off your hands for a minute so you can watch a TV show, take a warm bath, or anything that can get your mind of the responsibility of being a new mother.
Postpartum Depression Prevention
Since we are on the topic of self-care, we can easily talk about postpartum depression prevention. The two go hand in hand with each other and can be a valuable way to not only treat PPD but also prevent it.
Here is a list of things that can be helpful when trying to prevent a more serious baby blues feeling.
- Educate yourself. If you’ve made it this far in the article then you are already on your way to preventing PPD. It’s great to keep reading blogs, professional pieces, and more to thoroughly understand.
- Staying in contact with your regular OB-Gyn/doctor can allow them to constantly monitor your symptoms.
- Continue good habits and routines, like healthy eating and exercising when possible.
- Setting up realistic expectations for when the baby is born and writing them down. Planning is a great way to try to limit uncertainty. However, being aware the overplanning and that plans regularly change is a good quality to have
- Limit your accessibility after the baby is born. Being exhausted is the most common symptom and cause of PPD. Adding visitors and excessive calls can contribute to this.
- Do surround yourself with families and allow them to help you with the adjustment. The self-care part in treatment can be applied in prevention.
Postpartum Depression FAQs
Even with all this information, there is so much more to be said. Here are common questions that expecting and new mothers tend to ask.
Where and when should I go for help?
It’s a good idea that when you first start noticing symptoms, such as feeling sad, irritable, anxious, to write them down and date them. Depending on the severity of them will depend on whether you call your doctor right away or not.
If they are intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, you should seek medical help right away. If you are feeling a little upset or scared, write it down and if these feelings persist two weeks after the birth, call your doctor for recommended help.
What are the side effects of taking antidepressants?
While newmarket antidepressants have limited the side effects it is still possible when taking antidepressants to have one or more the following:
- Weight Gain/Loss
- Trouble Sleeping
- Dry Mouth
How long does it take to get better?
No woman’s path is the same when it comes to treating PPD. Some women may feel better in weeks while others who may experience more severe symptoms may take a longer time to recover from months to years.
What other resources can I use?
Planned Parenthood is another great resource for information both on your pregnancy and postpartum depression. Like your doctor, they can connect you with resources, support groups, appropriate pathways to recovery, and more.
It would be very difficult to know everything about postpartum depression because of how each individual experience differs. However, there are common triggers, symptoms, and treatments that this overview details to at least educate oneself on postpartum depression.
For prevention, the mother doesn’t need to know everything rather this is everything you need to know. Please remember if you are experiencing lasting symptoms or severe symptoms, contact a medical professional who can guide you to the right help.