Pregnancy is a complex and vulnerable period during which women face many challenges. After the much awaited due date and the arrival of a baby, some couples are overjoyed and fell in love with their infant instantly. However, for many couples, especially mothers, it’s another story. Postpartum depression comes into picture here.
In addition to being a time of joy and excitement, this “fourth trimester” can present considerable challenges for women, including:
- Lack of sleep
- Breastfeeding difficulties
- New onset or exacerbation of mental health disorders
- Urinary incontinence
PPD the abbreviation of Postpartum Depression is a kind of an adjustment disorder that arises during the postpartum period (period after delivering a baby).
Postpartum depression induces intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent mothers from being able to do their daily tasks. It can feel unbearable and awful to have anything other than happy thoughts about the new baby, or not getting emotionally attached to the new one.
Postpartum mental states
One in seven women have depression in the year after they give birth according to a study released on in the online edition of JAMA Psychiatry
The surprising results significantly imply how less the medical care (or more precisely mental and emotional support) women receive in the year after they have a baby.
- Thirty percent of the women who showed signs of depression after delivery had experienced an episode of the condition before pregnancy,
- More than two-thirds of the women also had signs of an anxiety disorder, the symptoms of which are not often associated with depression.
Moreover, PPD may also affect fathers within the first year.
Why does the Postpartum Depression develop?
PPD may develop due to a complex interaction of psychological, social and biological factors, in addition to genetic and environmental factors. It’s hard to predict who will develop PPD.
Factors that may increase risk include:
- The female hormones: Estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger an altered mental state or crankiness. In the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods.
- History of depression before or during pregnancy
- Pre-existing anxiety or mental illness
- Lack of social support
- Childcare stress
- Life stress
- Low self-esteem
- Difficult infant temperament
- Single marital status
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- Young age
Only a doctor can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary among women. Hence, a doctor can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or something else. Up to 50% of cases of PPD are never detected. The condition remains under-diagnosed in many cases.
- A loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy
- Eating much more, or much less
- Feeling anxious most of the time
- Panic attacks
- Feeling guilty
- Excessive irritability, anger or agitation—mood swings
- Sadness, crying uncontrollably for very long periods of time
- Fear of not being a good mother
- Fear of being left alone with the baby
- Inability to sleep, sleeping too much, difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Disinterest in the baby, family, and friends
- Difficulty concentrating or decision making
Solution to Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is totally normal and it’s not a reflection of you or your abilities as a mom.
Many efforts are being made by health providers to encourage new mothers to reach out for help and speak up.
- Seek help from your gynecologist or primary doctor.
- Share openly your feelings with your partner, other mothers, friends, and relatives.
- Join a support group for mothers.
- Ensure you get as much sleep or rest as you can.
- Try engaging yourself in physical activities like walks, mild exercises with doctor’s approval.
- Try not to worry about unimportant tasks—be realistic about what you can really do.
- Prioritize and cut down on less important responsibilities and tasks.
Postpartum depression is not your fault–it is a real, but treatable, psychological disorder.
Effective treatments for PPD include various forms of psychotherapy, often combined with antidepressant medication. You will learn how to develop skills to manage feelings and cope with problems.
Redefining Postpartum care
Following birth, many cultures prescribe a 30–40-day period of rest and recovery, with the woman and her newborn surrounded and supported by family.
But for many women, the 6-week postpartum visit punctuates a period devoid of formal or informal maternal support.
Obstetrician-gynecologists and other women’s health care providers are uniquely qualified to help you to smoothly get over the crucial transition from pregnancy to parenthood. By providing comprehensive, woman-centered care after childbirth, obstetrician-gynecologists and other obstetric care providers can enable every woman to optimize her long-term health and well-being.
“Enjoy your Path to Mom. Relish every moment!”
Disclaimer: All content on this website, including medical opinion and other health-related information, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
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