What is Postpartum Depression?
Many women experience mood swings after having a baby. These constant alterations in mood may either prevail only for a few days, where it is known as ‘baby blues’ or may last longer when it is referred to as postpartum depression. You may feel depressed, find it difficult to concentrate or may be unable to sleep at times. The postpartum depression can be treated successfully with proper care and counseling along support from the family members and friends.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression may be associated with various signs and symptoms that include
- Lack of interest in the day-to-day activities
- Loss of pleasure
- Sleeplessness or increased sleep
- weight loss or gain that cannot be associated with any other cause
- Feelings of worthlessness and getting thoughts of hurting self or increased worry about someone hurting the baby
The above symptoms may occur soon after childbirth or within six months of delivery.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression?
Though the exact cause of postpartum depression is not known, it has been indicated that changes in the hormonal levels in the body following delivery may result in chemical changes in the brain that causes the symptoms.
The risk factors that are likely to be associated with postpartum depression include:
- History of postpartum depression during previous deliveries
- Women already suffering from depression
- Severe post menopausal syndrome (PMS)
- Stressful pregnancy period or increased stress after pregnancy 1
How is it Diagnosed?
The condition is diagnosed mainly based on the signs and symptoms observed.
What is the Treatment?
Baby blues generally resolves within a span of about a week or 10 days following delivery. Support from family and friends may help in faster recovery. Postpartum depression may be relieved with the help of treatment modalities such as counseling and medications. Support from the doctor and counseling are usually associated with a cure in most of the cases. Some women may be required to take certain antidepressant medications as advised by the doctor. It should be noted that this is a condition that can be resolved with the help of proper support.
It can be prevented by following simple steps like talking to someone close about one’s feelings, getting people who can help out with the house chores or that of the baby, reading, exercising or meditating during free times, accepting that parenting is challenging and trying to cope with the changes.1
What are the Complications?
The depression may last for longer periods and the affected women may at times hurt themselves. Emotional and social support plays a vital role in preventing complications.2
1.Familydoctor.org. Postpartum Depression and the 'Baby Blues'. [homepage on Internet]. American Academy of Family Physicians [updated 2004 Sep; cited 2007 Dec 27]. Available from: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/pregnancy/ppd/general/379.html
2.MedlinePlus. Post-partum depression. [homepage on Internet]. Bethesda, MD: U.S. National Library of Medicine; [updated 2007 Nov 26; cited 2007 Dec 27]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007215.htm
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: January 19, 2015