Postnatal depression may be isolating, stressful, and terrifying., After the birth of a baby, there come several forms of powerful emotions and feelings from both the mother and the father; and generally the entire family members and well-wishers.
To the mother or father, these emotions and feelings can be accompanied by anxiety and fear which may cause mood swings, crying, difficulty in sleeping among others.
This feeling mostly occurs to the mother and it is known as “baby blues.” And it happens during the first two (2) or three (3) days after childbirth. It may last up to two (2) weeks, which is very normal in most cases.
But, when these feelings last longer than two (2) weeks, it is a sign or a symptom of a depression called Postnatal or Postpartum Depression (PPD).
Postnatal Depression is a type of mood disorder that is associated with childbirth. It is an extreme sign of “baby blues.” Postnatal depression is a kind of depression that many parents endure following the birth of their child.
This kind of depression comes after two (2) weeks of childbirth whereby the mother or the father experiences extreme sadness, anxiety, changes in sleeping patterns, changes in eating patterns, low energy, excessive crying, and fear.
Thus, while a woman experiences a brief period of unhappiness, fear, worry, and anxiety (“baby blues”) after childbirth, postnatal depression should be suspected when these signs become severe and exceed two (2) weeks.
However, Postnatal Depression if neglected can cause a lot of harm, so should not be taken lightly.
This can also negatively affect the newborn when neglected. PPD roughly affects fifteen percent (15%) of women after childbirth, and it is estimated to affect one percent (1%) to twenty-six percent (26%) of new fathers.
While postnatal depression often occurs two (2) weeks after childbirth, it does not occur u a month later in minor cases. It can begin at any point within the first year following childbirth. Because of its gradual development in few cases, many women may not be aware they have postnatal depression.
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Signs and Symptoms of Postnatal Depression include:
All women who have just given birth should have their depression checked by a doctor, midwife, or health visitor. When they meet you (perhaps at one of your postnatal checkups or visits), they may ask you the following two questions:
- Have you ever felt sad, depressed, or hopeless in the last month?
- Have you been troubled by a lack of interest or pleasure in performing activities in the last month?
The answers to these questions may indicate that you are depressed. They may also ask you two questions to gauge your degree of anxiety:
- Have you felt tense, apprehensive, or on edge during the last month?
- Have you been unable to halt or control your worrying in the last month?
The answers to these questions indicate whether or not more questions should be asked. These would assist you to learn more about your mood and determine whether or not you are depressed.
You must tell the truth about how you’re feeling. You should not believe that experiencing PND means you are a poor parent or that your child will be taken away from you. This is an exceedingly unusual occurrence. When treating PND, the goal is to keep you as close to your kid as possible so that you may build a relationship.
If a healthcare practitioner believes you have PND, they will generally recommend you to your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis. The diagnosis of PND is generally made after a physical examination.
- Crying episodes.
- Thoughts of harming your baby or yourself.
- Loss of appetite.
- Eating too much unlike before.
- Sleeping excessively unlike before.
- Difficulty in bonding with your baby.
- Depressed mood.
- Lack of concentration.
- Difficulty remembering things.
- Lack of interest in the things you normally enjoy.
- Severe mood swings.
- Isolating yourself from friends and family members.
- Recurrent thoughts of committing suicide.
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and shame.
Keep in mind:
- There is a wide range of assistance and support available, including treatment.
- Depression is a medical condition much like any other.
- It’s not your fault if you’re depressed; depression may strike anyone at any time.
- It’s not a sign that you’re a poor parent if you’re depressed.
- It doesn’t always mean that you’re mad.
- Your kid will not be taken away from you – babies are only put into care in the most extreme cases.
The Causes Of Postnatal Depression
CAUSES OF POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
The exact cause of postnatal depression remains unclear as anything can stir up mixed feelings in a woman after childbirth. Also, to new fathers, anything can cause them to be extremely sad or overwhelmed.
However, the cause is believed to be a combination of emotional, genetic, physical, and social factors. Some of the believed causes of postnatal depression are:
When there is a personal history of mental health problems or depression earlier in life, postnatal depression is likely to occur after childbirth. Or if there is a family history of postnatal depression or any form of mental disorder after childbirth, there is a tendency to experience the same.
Change in Lifestyle:
As we all know that there is always a change in the lifestyle of a pregnant woman; from being single to getting married to being pregnant and expecting a baby, to giving birth. These profound changes in lifestyle which are brought about by the thought of caring for an infant are another hypothesized cause of postnatal depression.
It should also be noted that this is not restricted to new moms; mothers who have previously had numerous children without experiencing postnatal depression might still be affected in the birth of their last babies.
Stress (before/after childbirth):
Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy can also cause PPD. When a woman engages in several hard labors during her pregnancy period, lack of adequate rest, and mental stress, she is prone to suffer postnatal depression after childbirth.
Sometimes, after giving birth, most mothers are unable to get the adequate rest they need to recover fully. Sleep deprivation can cause physical discomfort and exhaustion, contributing to the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression.
Hormones that have been studied include endorphins, corticotropin-releasing hormone, estrogen, thyroid hormone, cortisol, progesterone, and testosterone.
After twenty-four (24) hours of childbirth, estrogen and progesterone levels drop back to a pre-pregnancy level which causes sudden change and may affect the mother’s emotion and feelings to a large extent.
Also, given the inconsistent changes to the brain and biological systems during pregnancy, postnatal depression may not be avoided.
Lack of Finance:
Struggling financially can also lead to postnatal depression. When the woman or man discovers that there is no finance to take care of their bills and baby, it may cause him/her distress and excessive thinking, lack of concentration, and poor mental health which contribute to the symptoms of PPD.
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PSYCHOSOCIAL RISK FACTORS
- Low social support.
- Poor marital relationship.
- Single mental status.
- Psychological / physical trauma (bith-related).
- Personal / family history of depression.
- Lack of strong support from spouse / family / friends / partner / well-wishers.
- Difficulties in breastfeeding.
BIOLOGICAL RISK FACTORS
- Chronic sicknesses like asthma, diabetes, or celiac disease.
- Family history of postnatal depression.
- Personal history of depression.
- Inducing labor by administering oxytocin.
Myths Surrounding Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is frequently misunderstood, and there are several misunderstandings about it.
- Postnatal depression is not just less severe than other forms of depression, but it is also just as harmful.
- Postpartum depression is caused by a variety of factors, not only hormonal changes.
- Unlike the “baby blues,” postnatal depression can last for months if left untreated, and in a minority of cases, it can turn into a long-term condition.
- It is a common misconception that postnatal depression primarily affects women; nevertheless, research has revealed that up to one in ten new fathers experience sadness after delivering a child.
How does PND influence my feelings for my child?
- You could feel bad about yourself since you aren’t feeling the way you anticipated to.
- You may or may not be in love with your child.
- It’s possible that you don’t feel connected to your child.
- You could have trouble figuring out how your kid is feeling or what he or she needs.
- You could despise the baby or blame it for how you’re feeling.
- It’s possible that you feel like you’re losing out on parenting.
Do parents who suffer from PND endanger their children?
Depressed moms frequently worry that they may do something like this, although it is extremely unusual. You may occasionally feel compelled to beat or shake your infant out of exhaustion and desperation. This is a feeling shared by many moms (and fathers), not only those with PND. Despite having these sentiments from time to time, the majority of moms never act on them. Tell someone if you’re feeling this way.
Women frequently fear that if they express their feelings, their baby will be taken away. In fact, your doctor, health visitor, and midwife will all want to assist you in getting healthy. This means you’ll be able to enjoy and care for your kid at home. They can assist you with this by providing you with resources and information.
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Isn’t it true that everyone becomes melancholy after having a child?
Having a child is a life-changing event. It is typical to experience a wide range of emotions. A depressed condition does not affect everyone.
The ‘Baby Blues’ will affect more than half of new moms.
4 This generally begins 3 to 4 days after the baby is born. You could experience mood fluctuations. It’s really easy for you to cry. At times, you may feel angry, depressed, or nervous.
You may also be prone to overreacting to situations. It generally stops during the 10th day of your baby’s life. Treatment is not required for women suffering from baby blues. Tell your health visitor or GP if it lasts more than two weeks. They can determine if you have PND.
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WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
If you do nothing about your Postnatal Depression (or don’t even realize you’re sad), you’ll probably feel better in 3-6 months. Some folks take longer than others. There are several reasons to seek assistance:
I. To assist you in recovering rapidly. You don’t have to feel this way. Admitting that you are depressed is not a show of weakness.
II. To assist a partner or family member. When you’re sad, it may affect your relationships, your career, and your overall life.
III. To assist your kid (or children). Your bond with your kid may not be as wonderful as it might be if you are sad. You might not be able to offer your kid as much care as you would want. As a result, your baby’s growth may be slower than it should be.
There is evidence that developmental issues that emerge in a newborn as a result of a mother’s depression can last into adolescence.
If you think that you might be depressed, it is very much important to seek help as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to speak to a GP or your doctor, or any of your health visitors.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant or immediately finding out that you are pregnant and having a strange feeling of depression, please do speak up.
Your doctor will monitor you very closely and complete a screening question on depression during your pregnancy and after childbirth.
Then after giving birth, your doctor may commence an early postnatal check-up to dictate signs and symptoms of postnatal depression. When dictated, immediate treatment begins.
There are things that you can try on your own to fight postnatal depression. Talk to friends around, and also open up to family members. Create quality time for yourself to do things that make you happy. Take adequate rest, sleep as much as you can at night, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.
your doctor may recommend antidepressant treatment immediately after child delivery if you have a history of postnatal depression.
This can also be recommended when there is no trace of postnatal depression in your history, but the signs and symptoms of it become more severe, and/ or other treatments failed to help. In this case, your doctor prescribes medicines that are safe to take even while breastfeeding.
A GP may recommend any form of psychology therapy like self-help courses. A course of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is good help.
There is no specific evidence on what could prevent postnatal depression from occurring. But you can, to a great extent, help yourself by maintaining a sound and healthy lifestyle, seek support from family members on household chores, mother care, and good companionship.
Postnatal depression can be very dangerous than you think and lasts longer if not attended to at the early stages. Stay healthy, save yourself and save your child.
- Do not be alarmed by the prognosis. Many women have postpartum depression, and it will pass. If your partner, friends, or family are aware of the issue, they can be more supportive and understanding.
- Tell someone how you’re feeling. It may be quite reassuring to speak with someone who understands. This might be a spouse, a family member, or a close friend. Talk to your health visitor or GP if you can’t talk to your family or friends. They will understand that these emotions are typical and will be able to assist you.
- Take advantage of any opportunity to sleep or relax during the day or night. Ask a supportive partner, family, or friend to nurse the infant at night on occasion if you have one.
- Even if you don’t feel like it, strive to eat on a regular basis. Consume nutritious foods.
Make time for things that you love or that help you relax, such as going for a stroll, reading a magazine, or listening to music.
- If you have a relationship, make an effort to spend time with them. Try to do something fun with a friend or family member if you’re a single mother.
- Attend local new mother’s organizations or postpartum support groups. Your health visitor can provide you with information about local support groups. If you are sad, you may not want to attend these groups. See if you can find someone to accompany you. You might find that having the support of other new mothers is beneficial. You could meet some women who share your feelings.
Other options for therapy
This is a natural antidepressant that may be purchased without a prescription from pharmacies. It has lately become a popular over-the-counter depression medication. St John’s wort should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It has the potential to interact with other medications and cause adverse effects.
The quantity of active medication in each brand has been discovered to differ. As a result, national recommendations advise against using St John’s wort to treat depression, including Postnatal Depression.
If your depression is severe or does not respond to therapy, your doctor may recommend that you be sent to a mental health expert. Other therapies, such as specialized medicine, may be suggested.
You may need to go to the hospital on occasion. This should ideally be to a mother-and-baby unit so that your child may remain with you.
What about hormone therapy?
Hormone therapy has been proposed as a possible treatment for PND. However, there is little evidence that they help, and they come with their own set of risks 2, especially if you have already had thrombosis (blood clots in their veins).
What is the significance of treatment?
Within 3 to 6 months, the majority of women will improve without any therapy. When their kid is one year old, one out of every four moms with PND is still sad. 13 However, this might result in a great deal of pain. PND has the potential to ruin a new mother’s experience. It might put a burden on your connection with your partner and baby.
You may not be able to take care of your kid or yourself as well as you would if you were healthy. Even when the depression has passed, PND can have an impact on your child’s growth and behavior. 14 As a result, the shorter it is, the better.
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