What Is Postpartum Depression?
Some women have postpartum depression (PPD), which is a complicated combination of behavioral, emotional, and physical changes. The DSM-5, a guide used to identify mental disorders, classifies PPD as a type of serious depression that starts within 4 weeks of giving birth. The intensity of the depression as well as the amount of time between delivery and onset are used to diagnose postpartum depression.
Chemical, social, and psychological changes that take place upon having a baby are associated with postpartum depression. The phrase refers to a variety of mental and emotional adjustments that many new mothers go through. Counseling and medication are two options for treating PPD.
After birth, hormone levels rapidly decrease as a result of chemical changes. Yet unclear is the precise relationship between this decline and depression. The female reproductive chemicals progesterone and estrogen, however, are known to increase tenfold in concentration during pregnancy. After delivery, they immediately decline. The levels of these hormones return to normal within three days following giving birth in a woman.
In addition to these biological changes, having a baby also causes social and psychological changes that increase the risk of depression.
After giving birth, the majority of new mothers experience “baby blues.” One in ten of these women will experience a more severe and protracted depression after giving birth. A more dangerous illness called postpartum psychosis affects about 1 in 1,000 women.
Postpartum Depression: Risk Factors and Causes
It’s not your fault that you have PPD if you do. According to experts, there are numerous causes for it, and each person may have a distinct cause. Following are some factors that may increase the risk of postpartum depression:
- Experiencing a highly stressful occurrence, such as a job loss or health problem
- A history of depression before being pregnant or while carrying a child
- Age when the pregnancy began (the younger you are, the higher the chances)
- Uncertainty regarding the pregnancy
- An inheritance of mood problems
- Having triplets or twins
- Having a child with medical issues or unique needs
- Depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder in the past (PMDD)
- Insufficient social support
- Being single
- Marital discord
Although there isn’t a single cause of postpartum depression, various mental and emotional conditions could be a factor:
Hormones The sharp decline in estrogen and progesterone following childbirth could be a factor. Your thyroid gland’s other hormone production may also experience a significant decline, leaving you feeling worn out, lethargic, and melancholy.
Inadequate Sleep When you’re exhausted and sleep deprived, you could find it difficult to deal with even simple issues.
Anxiety. You might be worried about being able to take care of a newborn.
Self-Image You can feel less attractive, have identity issues, or lack a sense of control over your life. Any one of these problems may be a factor in postpartum depression.
Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression symptoms can be challenging to recognize. These signs are experienced by plenty of women after giving birth:
- Difficulty sleeping
- The appetite shifts
- Recurring mood swings
- Extreme tiredness
- Reduced libido
They co-occur with additional serious depressive symptoms with PPD, which are unusual after childbirth and may include:
- Suicidal or death-related thoughts Intentions to harm others
- Feeling uninterested in your child or that you are not developing a bond with them
- Weeping constantly
- Feeling down
- Extreme rage and grouchiness
- Loss of enjoyment
- Negative emotions such as discouragement and helplessness
- Difficulty focusing or making decisions
Around 1%–3% of women experience newly developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms during the postpartum period. Obsessions often stem from unreasonable fears of hurting the baby or worries about the infant’s health. An anxiety problem could also occur. Both of these illnesses and depression are possible co-occurring conditions.
For new mothers and their children, postpartum depression needs to be treated immediately. When a new mother should get expert assistance:
- Symptoms last longer than two weeks
- They cannot operate normally
- They spend the majority of the day feeling incredibly nervous, terrified, and panicked
- They struggle to handle commonplace circumstances.
- They think of hurting themselves or their child