Postpartum Depression

Having a baby brings a feeling of joy and fulfillment to most mothers. However, for some women, having a baby can result in mental health issues making it difficult to enjoy motherhood. Postpartum depression is a common condition that affects about 70% of new mothers. The great news is that there is an effective treatment for postpartum depression.

Other than impacting your quality of life and your ability to carry out your normal routines, postpartum depression can endanger your baby’s safety. By understanding the condition, you put yourself in a better position to manage postpartum depression and attain quick recovery.

To do this, you have to know the causes, risks symptoms, and available treatments for postpartum depression so you can take control of your wellbeing and that of your baby. Read on to find out everything you need to know about PPD, including treatment for postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression refers to a mental health condition that affects mothers from the first year after giving birth. Postpartum depression causes include a combination of factors such as hormonal changes that occur after childbirth, sleep deprivation, stress, and lack of support.

While baby blues after birth may be normal, the feelings of sadness, tiredness, frustration, and being overwhelmed tend to improve within a few weeks. Postpartum depression mimics baby blues but lasts longer than and the symptoms may get severe with time.

Postpartum depression not only makes motherhood feel like an unpleasant experience but also impairs your ability to properly take care of yourself and your child.

Not every mother experiences postpartum depression. While anyone can suffer from the condition, some women are more likely than others to get postpartum depression due to various factors. One of the main postpartum depression risk factors is having a history of mood disorders.

If you have suffered from any type of depression or mood disorder in the past, you are more likely to suffer postpartum depression. If your family members suffered from postpartum depression, your chances of experiencing the condition are also high.

Other postpartum depression risk factors include the age of the mother. Younger women who are not ready for kids are at a higher risk of postpartum depression. Abuse, drug use, as well as medical complications during pregnancy and childbirth can also increase your risk of depression due to high-stress levels.

Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable. You can always get professional help to manage the condition so you can enjoy motherhood, and ensure baby safety when caring for your child.

What Does Postpartum Depression Look Like?

Most women who suffer from postpartum depression also suffer from anxiety. It is also easy to confuse normal baby blues that go away after a week with postpartum depression. By understanding what postpartum depression looks like, you learn what to look out for so you can seek help in case you exhibit any of the symptoms.

Note that if your baby blues last for more than 2 weeks, it is advisable to seek professional help as it may signify postpartum depression. To help you understand how postpartum depression looks like, below are common signs to watch out for.

  • Severe mood swings and irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Change in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Lethargy
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or shame
  • Restlessness and paranoia
  • Difficulty in focusing, memory, and making decisions
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Fear that you may not be a good mother
  • Hearing and seeing things that are not there(hallucinations)

Note that every woman experiences postpartum depression differently and the symptoms may vary from one mother to the next. However, if you notice any of the above symptoms that seem to linger, you need to seek help. You can reach out to your family or friends for support, and call your midwife doctor or a mental health professional for postpartum depression screening.

You may have to provide information about your symptoms and answer questions regarding your general wellbeing and lifestyle during postpartum depression screening. Your healthcare professional will help you find treatment for postpartum depression to help you recover and improve your quality of life.

How to Deal with Postpartum Depression

To effectively manage postpartum depression, your doctor will first have to diagnose the condition. If you experience any signs of postpartum depression, your doctor will first have to conduct a diagnosis to facilitate the development of your treatment plan. Usually, postpartum depression diagnosis involves both medical and psychiatric evaluation that takes into account your symptoms.

A medical assessment helps rule out any other condition that may have similar symptoms as postpartum depression, such as vitamin deficiencies. Once you have been diagnosed, the next step is to seek professional treatment for postpartum depression. You can also manage the condition at home and alleviate the symptoms in the following ways:

  • Add fun activities into your daily routine
  • Set simple clear goals and achieve them to give you a sense of accomplishment
  • Join a support group and surround yourself with people who care about you.
  • Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet to help boost your mood, immunity, and fitness.
  • Get plenty of rest. This boosts your energy levels and reduces cortisol levels that are associated with a high level of stress.

While seeking professional help is key to your recovery, the above tips can help you relax, get adequate sleep and cultivate a new perspective about life in general.  Always maintain a supportive social circle and never be shy to ask for help whenever you need it as it contributes significantly to your recovery.

Two Common Treatment for PPD

Just like other forms of mental health conditions, treatment for postpartum depression includes a combination of approaches for success. Here are common treatments for postpartum depression.

(a) Medication for Postpartum Depression

Your doctor can prescribe antidepressants that balance chemicals in the brain associated with depression. Although most medications for postpartum depression are safe for nursing mothers, you should always inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Doing so allows your doctor to plan your treatment for postpartum depression effectively.

(b) Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy involves counseling and sometimes social support to help you understand postpartum depression so you can manage it better. Talking to your therapist can provide a new perspective on how you view your current situation so you can move on into healthier and happier motherhood.

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan for you depending on your situation. The good thing is that treatment is usually successful for most mothers and you can resume your normal happy life within a few weeks of treatment.

What Happens If Postpartum Depression Is Not Treated

Untreated postpartum depression is dangerous to both the mother and the baby. Not only does it weaken the bond between mother and child, but also heightens your chances of getting depression in the future.

It can also lead to family problems and conflict by straining relationships with your loved ones. In worst cases, untreated PPD may result in the mother harming themselves or the baby. With this in mind, you should be on the lookout for any signs of PPD and take immediate action. Seeking help in the early stages of the condition helps you avoid complications that may threaten your safety and that of your baby.