Postpartum depression/Postnatal Depression, also known as PPD, is a very common medical complication amongst new mothers. Our Society has created this perception that childrearing is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life. Imagine the pressure of a new mother when she doesn’t feel those exact emotions. Confusion immediately sets in, and the mother fears something is wrong. Little does the new mother know postpartum depression occurs more often than publicly mentioned. Starting a family is an exciting time, but new additions and responsibilities can result in more stress, and lack of sleep. Depending on the woman’s family support, economic status, and spousal support, these can all contribute to her depression and mood swings. This can occur especially if there is a lack within any of these areas. The miseducation of depression, and the fear of being diagnosed, is the misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the disease. The truth about postpartum depression is that it is normal, and about half of women experience depressive moods after giving birth.
PPD occurs in 15 out 100 women within the first three months. Half of the women have mild to moderate cases of depression. PPD can also be a more severe case, such as postpartum psychosis which is very rare. PPD symptoms are much stronger than the usual “baby blues” and last longer than the first couple of weeks postpartum. The symptoms of postpartum depression are as follows:
Lack of sleep (Insomnia)
Loss of appetite
Not being able to enjoy your usual favorite activities/No energy or Motivation
Feeling down/Crying spells
Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Postpartum depression is not dangerous, and without treatment symptoms will decline within four to six months. New mothers have been found to have thoughts of harming their newborns or themselves. Postpartum depression becomes an issue if the mother acts on those very thoughts. This is when the disorder turns to potentially dangerous to the child and the mother. If the mother is acting on these thoughts, or feeling suicidal, it is important to contact the OBGYN or primary care doctor. The Pennsylvania Suicide hotline and the Emergency 911 are resource available for those with an immediate assistance need.
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
In the past, hormones theoretically were the belief behind postpartum depression. Hormonal changes affect the brain chemistry that is responsible for our emotions and mood changes. There is minimal clinical research to prove this belief. There are many contributing factors that may increase a new mother’s susceptibility for postpartum depression. The factors include being previously diagnosed prior to pregnancy with anxiety or depression. Women with a family history are likely to have depression. A woman who experiences high levels of stress during the pregnancy, and after the childbirth can contribute. Having unhealthy relationships with domestic partners and family members can also ignite the disorder. It is important for the expectant mother to focus on both her physical and mental health, as she is bringing forth a new life. Non-judgmental emotional support can minimize depressive symptoms, and create an environment for the expectant mother/new mother to express her true emotional state. It is important for her to know that she is loved and supported. Unfortunately as women we carry the burden of taking care of the family, but we can only do so if we are in a good physical and mental state. Treatment begins when we acknowledge there is an issue.
So what do you do if you are experiencing these symptoms?
Contact your OBGYN office and make an appointment immediately. Total Women’s Health provides an extensive amount of resources and information for postpartum depression. There are many different treatment avenues for a new mother to choose. Counseling and anti-depressants are possible options for mild cases of post-partum depression. There are some holistic ways in treating depression as well. Simple things such as changing your diet, incorporating exercise, aromatherapy, massages, acupuncture, support groups, and light therapy. Postpartum depression can seem like a lone experience but this does not need to be the case. This is a fight you don’t have to fight alone. Contact Total Women’s Health today for resources and potential treatment options. Fear is because of the miseducation of this disorder, educate yourself.
Written by Kieona Fairley Founder of London’s Prints LLC