Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Factors And Levels

postpartum depression

Postpartum depression, also known as perinatal depression, is a type of depression that occurs after the birth of a baby. It is a fairly common but serious medical condition that affects up to one in every seven new mothers after birth. 

Postpartum depression can leave you feeling numb, emotionless, and depressed. For a long time after birth, it can cause mood disorders, exhaustion, and a general sense of hopelessness. Postpartum depression should not be taken lightly. Although it is a serious disorder, various therapeutic interventions can assist people in overcoming it. 

Postpartum depression can affect people of any gender or sexual orientation, as well as all types of parents and their partners, whether they are biological, surrogate, or adoptive. There is no single ‘normal’ way to parent. Postpartum and perinatal depression are both normal and never your fault. 

Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

A condition called “baby blues” is experienced by a lot of people, and the symptoms include, mood, tiredness, sadness, and emptiness after giving birth. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, lasts for weeks after giving birth. Its symptoms can be severe, impairing your ability to function. Postpartum depression symptoms can differ from person to person or even from day to day. While symptoms can appear at any time after childbirth, they are most common within the first 1 to 3 weeks. Postpartum depression can cause you to feel distanced from your child. You may perceive it as if you don’t love your child. It is not your fault that you are experiencing these emotions. 

Additional symptoms include. 

1. Sadness, crying a lot 

2. Overwhelmed 

3. Self-harm thoughts or thoughts of harming the baby 

4. Lack of interest in the newborn 

5. Lack of energy 

6. Lack of motivation 

7. A feeling of being a bad parent

8. Worthlessness 

9. A sense of guilt 

10. Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping a lot.’ 

11. Anxiousness 

12. Chronic headaches and pains 

13. Stomach-related issues 

14. Observable change in appetite 

It is important to understand that a postpartum issue doesn’t mean that one is a bad or careless parent. It happens very internally and is caused by hormonal changes. 

Causal Factor

Although the exact cause is unknown, some factors may contribute to postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can be caused by a combination of physical and emotional stressors.

Physical Factors

Your estrogen levels are higher than usual while pregnant. Hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels within hours of giving birth. This abrupt change could cause the onset of postpartum depression. 

Other factors include 

1. Low thyroid levels 

2. Drug/alcohol abuse 

3. Lack of sleep 

4. Other medical conditions 

Emotional Levels 

According to research, having stressful events during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression. 

1. Financial issues 

2. Death of a loved one 

3. Recent divorce.

Diagnosing Postpartum Depression

People who have signs of postpartum depression for more than two weeks during the first year after giving birth should see a doctor for a postpartum depression screening. 

A healthcare professional will be able to diagnose you based on your health history and symptoms. 

Signs that professionals generally look for 

1. Feelings associated with irritability 

2. Lack of energy 

3. Changes in sleep patterns 

4. Depression symptoms 

Additionally, risk factors associated with these symptoms are also explored

1. Any major recent stressor or stressful event 

2. Any background with depression 

3. Medical history is also checked 

4. Any environmental stressors associated 

Treatment For Postpartum Depression Includes

If you are having symptoms of postnatal depression, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. Postpartum depression treatment may include medication, specific types of therapy, and peer support. 

Medications 

Antidepressants are among the most common types of medications suggested during postpartum depression. Medications generally require a time frame of 6-8 weeks to show their effects.

1. Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors- These have the potential to work effectively with the minimum amount of side effects. And are also the most common ones.

2. Atypical antidepressants – They are majorly for targeting certain neurotransmitters in the brain that cause mood changes. 

3. Tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors – They are the less common ones.

4. Brexanolone – These are antidepressants that are generally recommended when all the other antidepressants do not work. 

Various side effects of antidepressants include 

1. Digestive problems 

2. Anxiousness 

3. Headaches 

Hormone Therapy– After delivering a baby, the sex hormones in the female’s body drop to a great level (estrogen and progesterone). This change in the hormones in the female body is the main cause behind developing postpartum depression. But there are a lot of side effects of hormonal therapy 

1. Changes in the weight 

2. Vomiting 

3. Vaginal discharge 

4. Yeast infection in the vagina 

5. Migraine 

6. Headaches 

7. Blood pressure is increased 

8. Hair loss 

Psychotherapy

According to researchers, cognitive behavior therapy is one therapy that is significantly associated with curing postpartum depression. When cognitive behavior therapy is combined with any antidepressants can have the most effective effects on a patient than any other therapy combined with medications. 

Cognitive behavior therapy includes understanding and learning various techniques that can help in changing the thought patterns, and various cognitive distortions that a person might experience, and dealing with a difficult problem while using various forms of problem-solving skills and techniques. And thus, gaining some confidence in one’s own abilities.

Natural Remedies

Postpartum depression is a severe neurological dysfunction that should not be treated without the advice of a healthcare professional

However, at-home activities such as eating a healthy diet, engaging in soothing exercise on a regular basis, yoga mindfulness or yoga, and having to spend time in nature may help you feel better, especially when combined with traditional treatments such as medication and therapy. 

Self-Care 

Postpartum depression can be emotionally draining and isolating, so it’s critical to take care of yourself, reach out to friends and family and seek help when necessary. Joining social support can also be beneficial. 

Prevention

It is relatively common and might not be entirely avoidable. However, knowing the symptoms of postpartum depression can assist you in managing the ailment and getting treatment sooner if necessary. 

Research recommends that taking certain antidepressants and nutrients during pregnancy or immediately after birth can help or reduce the severity of postpartum depression. In addition to certain medications, undergoing therapy, specifically cognitive behavior therapy or interpersonal therapy can help in reducing the risk factor of developing postpartum, especially for those who are at risk of developing it. 

Certain other interventions that can be taken to reduce the risk of postpartum included

1. Reduction or totally cutting off alcohol. 

2. Maintaining proper sleep patterns and having rest. 

3. Having a balanced diet. 

4. Exercises 

5. A quick walk every day in order to get some air. 

6. Having a certain household or somebody there to help with child-related things and taking breaks in between.

7. Having parental counseling 

8. Having supportive and caring friends and family around even before childbirth. 

To summarize, postpartum depression is a condition that happens due to changes in hormonal levels. For some people, it continues for a longer period of time and needs professional help and supervision. To get better, going to a clinical or a counselling psychologist will help one get better and cope with the situation.

Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how



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