Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between clinical depression and the normal stress and exhaustion of new parenthood
If you’re a brand-new mom who expected to be full of joy at this point, it can be upsetting and confusing when you’re actually feeling the opposite. Rest assured, you’re not alone.
Anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of new mothers experience the baby blues – an emotional state of tearfulness, unhappiness, worry, self-doubt, and fatigue. The baby blues typically begin a few days after delivery and go away on their own within a week or two.
However, if your feelings seem unusually intense and have lasted longer than two weeks straight, you may be wondering whether you have a more serious condition. It may come as a surprise, but you could have postpartum depression (PPD).
Note: we can create some sort of quiz here, where someone can take it to establish peripheral borders if they are on the verge of PPD. (I have done similar quizzes online on aptitudes and psychometric testing)
SO, WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between clinical depression and the normal stress and exhaustion of new parenthood. But if your feelings of sadness or despair are so powerful that they prevent you from being able to do your daily tasks – such as caring for yourself and others – you could have PPD.
We could also explain it in another way almost similar to what I just said;
PPD is the type of depression you may get after you have a baby. It can start any time during your baby’s first year, but it’s most common for you to start to feel its effects during the first 3 weeks after birth.
If you have it, you might feel sad, hopeless, and guilty because you may not feel like you want to bond with, or care for, your baby and it does not occur to first time mothers only.
QUESTION: WHY WOULD YOU GET PPD?
There are multiple levels of predisposing factors that might lead to this, but let’s try evaluate some (you could correct my views, this article is a collection of online research).
Hormones. Your hormone levels rise when you’re pregnant. After your baby is born, they drop suddenly. This quick change can trigger depression in some women. (If you ever feel moody before you get your period, you know how hormones can affect you.)
History of depression. If you’ve had depression before, or it runs in your family, you may be more likely to have postpartum depression.
Stress and problems. If you didn’t want to be pregnant, or your partner and family don’t help you care for your baby, you’re more likely to become depressed as a new mom. The condition is also more common among women with money issues, problems with drugs or alcohol, or other big sources of stress.
Very young women who aren’t prepared to care for or support a baby are also at risk.
Other Factors that may lead into PPD are;
- Traumatic childbirth experience
- Preterm delivery
- A baby needing neonatal intensive care
- Lack of social support
- Breastfeeding problems
Other risk factors include:
- Baby blues after delivery
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- A baby with birth defects or other medical problems
- Multiple babies (such as twins or triplets)
- Being single
- Low socioeconomic status or financial instability
- Domestic violence
- Many medical appointments during pregnancy
- Pregestational or gestational diabetes
Remember that these risk factors don’t actually cause PPD. Many women with multiple risk factors never experience clinical depression or anxiety, while others with just one risk factor (or even none) can end up with a diagnosis of PPD.
ARE THERE SYMPTOMS THAT ARE RELATED TO PPD?
Of course there are and it could be critical for you, your partner or the people you are around, especially after giving birth to be on the look out. Most women never seek help on PPD, other are not even aware they have it and maybe due to societal or other beliefs, they are taken lightly which can later bring great problems to the mother, child and the family (you can edit this).
The symptoms of PPD and depression that occurs before or during pregnancy are the same. You could have PPD if you experience five or more of the following symptoms almost every day, for most of the day, for at least two consecutive weeks:
- Extreme sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Crying all the time
- Loss of interest or lack of enjoyment in your usual activities and hobbies
- Trouble falling sleep at night, or trouble staying awake during the day
- Loss of appetite or eating too much, or unintentional weight loss or weight gain
- Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness or overpowering guilt
- Restlessness or sluggishness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling that life isn’t worth living
Other possible signs you might be depressed include:
- Being irritable or angry
- Avoiding friends and family
- Worrying excessively about your baby
- Being uninterested in your baby, or unable to care for her
- Feeling so exhausted that you’re unable to get out of bed for hours
In rare cases, some women with PPD experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations and may harm their baby.
Note: If you have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, this is an urgent health matter. Contact your provider immediately.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Only a doctor can diagnose you with postpartum depression. But if you think you have it, make an appointment right away. If it’s postpartum depression, there are treatments that will get you back to feeling like yourself again.
Medication. Your doctor might decide prescribing you antidepressants will help. These drugs help balance certain brain chemicals linked to depression. Most are safe to take while you breastfeed. Just be sure to let your doctor know if you’re nursing.
Counseling. Talking to a psychologist or therapist also can be a great help. You can learn ways to recognize when you’re having negative thoughts so you know how to deal with them better. You may even discuss past relationships or stresses and learn how to work through those so they don’t affect your life now.
What Else can you do once diagnosed and going through treatment?
If you’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression, there are many things you can do to help yourself feel better as you work through your treatment.
- Exercise daily.
- Include fun things in your day.
- Meet simple goals.
- Surround yourself with people who care.
PPD is a priority today for women, as a Doula, I have had first hand experience with this and I have also, tried, to guide into the best way to offer help in this kind of situation. Motherhood is designed to be joyous and fulfilling and anything that may compromise that then every effort to avert should be applied for a healthy and promising and positive outcome.