Depression After Childbirth: Postpartum Depression
Parenthood is beautiful. Being able to witness how a body can bear another living soul is just magnificent. However, while parenthood is an event worth celebrating, it can be stressful for a parent.
Parents have to deal with changes in them while they take care of their babies. If they aren't able to cope appropriately, it can take a toll on their mental health. The changes and the struggle they feel can eventually cause "postpartum depression."
What is Postpartum Depression : Definition
Postpartum Depression is a depression that occurs after giving birth. It's a mental health issue common in new mothers and sometimes in new fathers as well. Caused by the changes in your body, mindset, and environment, postpartum depression doesn't go away on its own.
What Happens Straight After Birth?
Fluctuations in your hormones, brain chemicals, and mindset occur after childbirth. The birth of a baby can trigger confusing feelings. You might feel excited, happy, afraid, and anxious. This is why "baby blues" are normally felt after childbirth. However, new parents can experience severe, long-lasting forms of depression, and that's called postpartum depression.
Signs or Symptoms of Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression
Baby blues and postpartum depression have overlapping symptoms. It's important to know the signs so you can differentiate the terms from each other.
Baby Blues Symptoms
The fluctuations in your body and emotions can cause negative behavior. Baby Blues are commonly experienced in the first and second weeks after you give birth. Here are the following signs:
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Inability to focus
- Irritability or explosive anger
- Changes in appetite
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Postpartum Depression is commonly mistaken as baby blues. However, the symptoms are more intense and long-lasting. Eventually, it interferes with your ability to take care of your baby and handle other tasks. The following symptoms usually begin during pregnancy up to a year after birth.
- Depressed mood
- Severe and sudden mood swings
- Bonding with your baby feel difficult
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Changes or loss in appetite
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Intense irritability and anger
- Anxiety and fear of not being a good mother
- Feelings of hopelessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Inability to concentrate
- Failure or inability to make decisions
- Panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Repetitive thoughts about death or suicide
Watch out for the signs and consult a mental health professional. Untreated postpartum depression can affect your life, and it can eventually cause postpartum psychosis.
Related: Understanding Depression
What is Postpartum Psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that develops the first week after you give birth. It can also develop if postpartum depression is untreated. The signs and symptoms include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Having obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Disturbances in your sleep
- Mania or Manic Episodes
- Excessive energy or reactions
- Active attempts to harm yourself and your baby
It's vital to seek help and get the right kind of treatment. Postpartum psychosis can lead to life-threatening behavior for you and your baby.
What Should You Do?
When you feel like changes are happening within you, it's vital to consult a mental health professional immediately. Once you undergo an assessment, the professional will recommend the following treatment activities:
- Medication: You're most likely going to get prescribed medicines if the symptoms you're having are severe. Managing your medications can be challenging when you're breastfeeding. This is why it's important to consult a medical professional so you can get the right kind of medication.
- Therapy: Undergoing therapy can help you process what you're feeling. Through a professional's help, you get to learn and gain healthy strategies to manage your symptoms.
Related: Do I Need Therapy?
- Support Groups: A postpartum depression support group is crucial when you're recovering. This helps you gain different perspectives and gain company from other parents who are dealing with postpartum depression.
- Psychoeducation: Other mental health resources can help you learn more about postpartum depression. You can access online resources from Postpartum Support International.
- Hotlines: When you aren't in a privileged position and don't have a healthy support system, it's essential to know the postpartum depression hotline. You can get immediate support once you do.
The following are postpartum depression and support hotlines:
- Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4773
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
- Postpartum Men Hotline: (415) 346-6719
It's normal to feel scared and anxious when you're a new parent. When you feel overwhelmed by that thought, remind yourself that you are not alone. Mental health services and resources are available and accessible to you. You can be the best parent for your child when you learn to take care of yourself.