Postpartum depression (PPD) is brought on by a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that occur after pregnancy. It is a form of major depression that may be seen in pregnant women within four weeks of giving birth.
PPD is usually treated using medication and talk therapy. If you have postpartum depression, timely treatment is essential to help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.
The levels of female reproductive hormones (estrogen and progesterone) typically see a tenfold increase during pregnancy. They drop sharply to prepregnancy levels within three days of delivery.
It is surmised that postpartum depression may be linked to chemical changes in the body caused by a drop in hormones after delivery. PPD is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes that occur when having a baby.
In many cases, new moms may be experiencing a case of the ‘baby blues.’ Baby blues is a general feeling of sadness that can occur 2 to 3 days after the baby is born and can last up to 2 weeks.
Up to 80% of parents are said to have baby blues, irrespective of their race, age, income, culture, or education level. These feelings usually go away on their own without the need for treatment.
However, the symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to the baby blues, but they’re more severe and usually last longer. If you feel the ‘blues’ for longer than two weeks, it is good to get in touch with your healthcare provider to check for postpartum depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can include:
- Hopeless, sad, or worthless feeling.
- Frequent bouts of crying and wanting to stay by yourself.
- Feeling inadequate as a mom, like you’re not doing a good enough job.
- Lack of bonding with your baby.
- Lack of sleep.
- Unable to care for the baby due to overwhelming despair.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Changes in appetite.
- Severe fatigue.
- Decreased libido.
- Frequent mood changes.
There is no single identifiable cause of postpartum depression, but genetics, physical changes, and emotional issues may play a role.
Genetics. If you have a family history of PPD, it can increase your risk of experiencing postpartum depression.
Physical changes. Childbirth brings with it a multitude of changes in the mother’s body. Changes in reproductive hormones and other hormones produced by the thyroid gland can cause feelings of tiredness, sluggishness, and depression.
Emotional issues. Having a new baby in the house changes routines in a dramatic way. The state of being sleep deprived and emotionally overwhelmed is an expected result. It is possible that such struggles, along with anxiety related to caring for your newborn, feeling less attractive, struggling with a sense of identity, or a feeling of losing control over your life, can all contribute to postpartum depression.
When a feeling of sadness or overwhelm occurs immediately after delivery, many parents face additional feelings of guilt about not meeting societal expectations about caring for their baby. This, in turn, can lead to them not paying enough attention to their own health and ignoring a possible case of postpartum depression.
However, treatment can help you feel like yourself again. It is, therefore, essential to seek help quickly rather than wait for your 6-week checkup.
Treatment options for postpartum depression can include antidepressant medications, talk therapy, or other forms of therapy for emotional support. The severity of your symptoms will determine the treatment form best suited for your condition.
Postpartum depression can be treated with antidepressant medication even if you are breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about your breastfeeding plans and routines.
It is important to know that untreated postpartum depression can eventually turn into chronic depressive disorder. It is, therefore, vital to get treatment sooner rather than later.
If you have been experiencing persistent sadness, anxiousness, or hopelessness after your child's birth, you may have postpartum depression. While this can be a serious situation, the good news is that proper care and treatment can help resolve the situation.
Axis Integrated Mental Health in Denver provides a full suite of integrated mental health treatments under one roof. For appointments, call us at (720) 400-7025 or fill out our contact us form today.