September 22, 2020
Bringing your baby into this world should be the happiest moment of your life. The most precious time is the time you bond with your baby. Every woman longs for this period in her life, but for some, this period is fraught with major mental and emotional problems. Postpartum depression is a very real mental disorder that afflicts some women after their childbirth.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a depression that begins within 4 weeks after delivery. Most women undergo mood swings during pregnancy and after delivery but with PPD, the symptoms are an acute mix of physical, emotional and behavioural changes and which is diagnosed based on the time it occurs and the severity of depression.
What causes postpartum depression?
This is caused by hormonal changes. During pregnancy there is a spike of estrogen and progesterone levels to nearly 10 times the normal level. Within 3 days of delivery, these drop rapidly to normal levels. Most women are able to handle this sudden chemical change and only experience mild ‘baby blues’, but some are unable to handle it. This is further aggravated by the social and psychological changes a new baby creates. Lack of sleep, anxiety and poor self-image can lead to postpartum depression.
1 out of 10 women who experience baby blues develop postpartum depression and 1 in 1000 may develop the serious condition of postpartum psychosis.
How can you identify Postpartum Depression?
If a woman has these symptoms soon after delivery, then she may have postpartum depression.
- Sleeping problems
- Appetite changes
- Frequent mood changes
- Decreased libido
- Depression and inability to be happy
- Worthless, hopeless or helpless feeling
- Thoughts of harming self or others
- Panic disorder
If symptoms last for over 2 weeks, interfere with normal life and day-to-day activities, and cause extreme anxiety, fear or panic she needs medical attention.
Who is at risk of developing postpartum depression?
The following conditions increase the risk of postpartum depression
- A history of depression
- Pregnancy at younger age
- Uncertainty about pregnancy
- More number of pregnancies
- Limited social support
- Marital conflict/ Living alone
Is there treatment for postpartum treatment?
Postpartum depression can be treated successfully. Treatment depends on individual symptoms and requirements. PPD is usually treated with antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and group support and education sessions.These medications do not harm your baby and so can be safely taken under medical supervision even while breast feeding.
If someone in your family had PPD, then you should inform your doctor early in your pregnancy. It will help your doctor plan your treatment and monitor you for signs during your pregnancy and after your delivery. The earlier you start your treatment, the better the outcome. If left untreated, your depression may worsen, lead to your partner slipping into depression and also affect emotional balance of your baby.
For any queries on postpartum depression, if you or someone you know suffers from postpartum depression, if you need support and treatment during your pregnancy, contact Rela Institute, a super speciality Perinatal Centre.