The problem of postpartum depression and postpartum depression treatment is known to many mothers. Many women in the first days after the birth of a child experience a feeling of anxiety, irritability, depression, and apathy. Sudden changes in mood, causeless tearfulness, increased vulnerability, fear of inability to take care of the baby – all these are signs of the so-called postpartum melancholy. This is a natural response to stress.
It takes time to adapt. And as soon as a woman gets used to new worries and daily routines, her emotional background will normalize. As a rule, this condition goes away on its own within a few days and does not need special treatment.
If a woman is depressed for a long time, indifference to the surrounding world is replaced by a strong sense of guilt and deep despair, it is necessary to pay attention to painful experiences in time. All of this may indicate postpartum depression.
Depression, in contrast to postpartum melancholy, is a severe emotional disorder. What’s more, postpartum depression treatment is a must in this case and requires compulsory treatment. It is possible to cope with it only with the help of specialists.
What Is Postpartum Depression And Where Does It Come From?
Postpartum depression is a mental disorder that occurs in 10-15% of women after childbirth or pregnancy that does not end with the birth of a baby.
No one knows for sure why postpartum depression develops. Until the reasons for depression are established, doctors suspect that this is a condition that is associated with many factors: predisposition, hormonal balance, personality type, individual experience, and injuries.
Pregnancy and childbirth are events that change the hormonal balance, affect health, and often cause psychological trauma, that is, reinforce all the reasons why depression occurs. But it happens even in healthy and prosperous women and after relatively easy delivery.
Postpartum depression often affects women who have:
- already had mental disorders before pregnancy.
- no close people who can help take care of the child or just support.
- tensions with a partner.
- experienced something unpleasant, not even related to pregnancy and childbirth.
By the way, even men suffer from postpartum depression. But less often than women: only 1 out of 25 fathers experiences similar symptoms.
When Does Postpartum Depression Appear? How Long Does It Last?
In the first two weeks after giving birth, it is perfectly normal to feel weak, be in a bad mood, and cry more than usual. If in about 14 days it passes, then it is too early to talk about postpartum depression. Postpartum depression lasts longer. In reality, it may last several months. If postpartum depression treatment doesn’t take place, then it may turn into ordinary depression, because months and years will separate it from childbirth.
Postpartum depression does not necessarily start at the hospital or after leaving the maternity hospital: it can occur up to a year after the birth of the baby.
It doesn’t matter how many children a woman has. Depression can occur both after the first birth and after any subsequent ones.
How To Understand That It Is Depression?
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to those of a regular one:
- Constant bad mood, sadness, irritability, mood swings.
- Efficiency decreases, there is not enough energy.
- Interest in your favorite things and the world around you is lost.
- There are problems with sleep: both drowsiness and insomnia.
- The appetite disappears or increases incredibly.
- There is no desire to communicate with people.
- It becomes difficult to concentrate, to keep attention.
- Frightening thoughts appear. For example, to harm yourself or your child.
- It becomes difficult, almost impossible to care for a child.
These symptoms rarely come one at a time. They can appear one after another and grow gradually. So, postpartum depression is often not noticed.
In addition, depression is often prevented from recognizing because of social attitudes. By default, a woman should enjoy the new status of the mother, experience unearthly happiness, and dissolve in the pleasant cares of the baby. The emotions of a depressed woman do not fit into this picture. As a result, a feeling of guilt for being “the wrong mother” and “unable to cope” is added to the confused emotional state of a woman.
In addition, often surrounding people do not support a woman. Quite the contrary: they reproach that she is not happy and complains when she is obliged to shine with happiness. This can significantly aggravate depression and exacerbate its symptoms.
The Consequences Of Maternal Postpartum Depression For A Baby
Maternal depression is an obstacle to the formation of emotional closeness, vital for the baby. Alienation, emotional detachment of the mother injures the child.
Lack of maternal love, affection, and warmth can lead to serious mental disorders of the bay. The emotional connection between mother and child gives him a sense of security, and the absence of this connection is always a tragedy for the baby.
The depressive state prevents the mother from feeling and emotionally responding to the desires and needs of her child. The baby feels rejected and unwanted when left alone with his fears and anxieties. Such isolation in the future can lead to serious personality disorders – pathological self-doubt, increased anxiety, fears and phobias, depressive disorders, difficulties in establishing close relationships, etc.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
First, you need to understand that any mother can face depression, regardless of how the birth took place and how things are after them. This is the same disease as the flu or hypertension, but it affects the nervous system. Thus, postpartum depression treatment is a must.
The woman is definitely not to blame for the fact that she has postpartum depression.
Therefore, do not be embarrassed and do not hide disturbing thoughts and symptoms. They need to be shared with relatives and doctors in order to be cured on time.
Secondly, if there is reason to suspect depression, you need to seek help as quickly as possible. Make sure to ask professionals for help, that is, psychotherapists. Postpartum depression treatment includes:
Psychotherapeutic methods. Contrary to a common myth, these are not just conversations about injuries and emotions. These are working methods by which the patient is taught to cope with complex emotional states.
Special medicines and are not only antidepressants. Only a doctor can prescribe them because an independent attempt to find a medicine can only exacerbate the symptoms.
Diet. It’s not about losing weight, but about proper nutrition. It’s not a secret that the mental state of a person depends a lot on his nutrition.
Physical exercise. Playing sports is one of the most stable and effective methods that help to cope with mental disorders, and especially with depression. Most likely, this is due to hormones: sport helps to produce the “right” hormones for a good mood.
Thirdly, take measures to prevent problems.
How To Prevent Postpartum Depression
It is clear that the trigger for postpartum depression is childbirth, which is difficult to do without if you want to have a baby. In reality, there are no effective methods for preventing depression after childbirth. You can only reduce risk factors.
For example, one study has found that childbirth epidural anesthesia reduces the risk of depression. In general, it is logical: pain and memories of it are unlikely to cheer up.
It also turned out that breast pain is associated with depression due to feeding: many women have cracks in their nipples, and their breasts may become inflamed due to stagnation of milk. Thus, sometimes you have to refuse to breastfeed. All of these cases are associated with an increased risk of depression. However, it is not clear how exactly: either problems with feeding begin because of depression, or depression develops because of the difficulties.
Postpartum depression also occurs due to overwork and fatigue (recall that these are not the only reasons). It is impossible not to get tired at all, taking care of a small child. But you can help yourself:
- Enlist the support of loved ones and friends.
- Despite the difficulties in caring for a child, try to relax and not forget about yourself: eat properly and fully, play sports, try to have some rest.
- Seek help, including professional help, if you feel that you are lacking in strength.
- Use gadgets and tools that make it easier to care for your child.
- Communicate with other mothers (especially those who have experienced depression) to understand: you are not alone.
Remember that no one is perfect, and do not strive for the ideal image of the mother from advertising diapers.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.