Approximately 1 in 10 women experiences postpartum depression after giving birth, with some studies reporting 1 in 8 women. Postpartum depression generally lasts up to 3 to 6 months and varies based on several factors. It is estimated that nearly 50% of mothers with postpartum depression are not diagnosed by a health professional. Postpartum refers to the period following childbirth. Within a few days of giving birth, most mothers experience the "baby blues," or feelings of sadness or emptiness.
The newborn blues disappear in 3 to 5 days for most mothers. You may have postpartum depression if your baby blues persist or if you feel depressed, hopeless, or empty for more than two weeks. Feeling dismal or empty after childbirth is not a typical or expected component of being a mother. Postpartum depression is a severe mental disorder that affects the brain, your behaviour, and your physical health. If you have depression, you may have persistently depressing, life-interfering, or empty feelings. You can feel distant from your child, as if you are not the mother, or you might not feel any love or affection for the child. These emotions range from moderate to strong.
Throughout and after pregnancy, your body and mind go through many changes. Reach out for assistance if you have prolonged periods of feeling empty, emotionless, or depressed for more than two weeks during or after pregnancy. You may have postpartum depression if you believe that you don't love or care for your newborn. Therapy or medication are effective treatments for depression that will benefit your baby's future health as well as your own.
Postpartum depression gets triggered by hormonal changes that happen during the period of pregnancy and post-birth. Progesterone and oestrogen levels increase during pregnancy but dramatically decrease after delivery. After three-four days of delivery, the levels of these hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels. Along with these biological changes, having a baby causes social and psychological changes that raise your risk of postpartum depression. For instance, your body may alter physically, you may sleep less, you may worry about raising your children, or your relationships may change.
The warning symptoms vary from person to person, but they may include:
You might experience a loss of enjoyment or interest in previously enjoyed activities.
You might experience anxiety that lasts all the time or most of the time; or panic attacks.
You might be having racing, unsettling thoughts
You might experience fear of being alone with the baby
You might feel worthless or guilty
You might experience excessive irritability, anger, agitation & mood swings
You might feel sad & sob uncontrollably for extended periods of time
You might experience misery
You might be sleeping too much, or find difficulty in falling or staying asleep
You might experience disinterest in the baby, family, and friends
You might find it difficult to concentrate, remember specifics, or make decisions
You might experience overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
You might experience a loss of appetite or eat much more than usual
In extreme situations, you might also feel like harming the baby
In extreme situations, you might also feel like harming yourself
Complications of Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can interfere with the mother-child connection and lead to family issues if it is not managed. Postpartum depression, if left untreated, can persist for several months or even longer, occasionally progressing to chronic depression. Postpartum depression raises a woman's chance of subsequent major depressive episodes even when it is treated. Everyone close to a new infant may experience emotional stress as a result of postpartum depression. A new mother's depression may increase the baby's father's risk of developing depression as well. Untreated postpartum depression increases the risk of emotional and behavioural issues in offspring, including difficulty sleeping, eating, and crying excessively.
Early identification and intervention are crucial.
A psychologist or other qualified mental health specialist can assist if you or someone you know exhibits signs of depression and anxiety similar to those described here, either during pregnancy or after childbirth.
Different types of psychotherapy, frequently in conjunction with antidepressant medication, are effective therapies for Post-Partum Depression. You'll discover how to hone your ability to control your emotions and deal with issues.
Take action and seek therapy as soon as you become aware of any of these mental or physical symptoms. Don't wait. If it is not treated, it may worsen.
Non-medication strategies that can be helpful in preventing Postpartum depression:
Cuddle your baby a lot. This will help in releasing oxytocin, which can lower anxiety levels. Try to maximize sleep.
You and your partner can try sleeping in separate rooms or taking shifts caring for the baby during the first few months because the baby will wake you up every 60-90 mins to grab the feed. Make sure you achieve an uninterrupted four-hour stretch of sleep and be conscious of caffeine intake.
Spend time with other mothers. Connecting with other mothers can do wonders in lowering your fears and validating your emotions. Chances are you are not the only one worrying about the whole situation and post-partum changes.
Enhance your physical activity. In spite of the physical toll that pregnancy, delivery, and milk production take on your body, physical activity is one of the most powerful anti-anxiety strategies. Activities that incorporate breathing exercises, such as yoga, and jogging may be beneficial.
Wean gradually. If you are breastfeeding and want to start weaning, start slowly & gently to minimize sudden hormonal changes.
Ask for help. Caring for a baby often requires the support of family. If you are feeding the baby, ask someone else to support you with household chores.