What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum “baby blues” is a common form of depression that affects millions of new mothers every year all over the world. Baby blues occurs after you have given birth, usually within 48 hours of delivery, and is most commonly caused by the fear and anxiety that comes with being a new parent. While most baby blues go away on their own in a few days or weeks, there is something that is plaguing new mothers that lasts a lot longer and can come with some rough symptoms.
Postpartum Depression is a serious illness that affects mothers all over the world. Unlike postpartum baby blues that cause mood swings, crying spells, and a difficulty adjusting or sleeping, Postpartum Depression can cause suicidal thoughts or actions.
After you have given birth, your body will be going through enormous changes, carrying with it mood swings, crying spells, and even mild depression. This is your body’s way of trying to return to the normal conditions it knew before you became pregnant. Usually, within a few weeks of delivery, you will begin to feel more like your old self. Once you have adjusted to life with a new baby and your hormones have gone back to normal, you should not experience these any longer.
However, for some women, postpartum baby blues can turn into postpartum depression, which can have a crippling effect on their lives and the lives of those around them. When people who have not experience postpartum depression hear of it, they usually think that the mother is exaggerating her feelings or that she is making up stories for people to feel sorry for her.
However, this is not the case. Similar to other forms of depression, this is a mental issue that needs to be treated by a doctor so that the mother can get better and begin to bond with her baby.
Let’s take a look at the two main causes of postpartum depression.
At first, you may be thrilled that your new baby is finally here. You find joy and excitement in everything they do. But after a few days, once your body begins to return to normal, you may find yourself experiencing multiple moments of pure sadness. You may be anxious all the time or begin to doubt your abilities to care for this baby.
Maybe you feel unattractive, or that your spouse or partner doesn’t love you anymore because of how you look post-baby. Some women have even described a feeling of losing control over themselves and their life. All of these emotional changes that you go through after delivery can contribute to postpartum depression.
As with emotional changes after childbirth, you will notice physical changes as well, and not just in how you look in the mirror. Once your body begins returning to normal, your pregnancy hormones will begin dropping, sometimes rapidly.
You may also see a decrease in the hormones in your thyroid glands, which can cause you to feel overly tired and can increase your chances of becoming depressed because you both feel and look tired all the time. This can put a strain on how you feel about your physical appearance.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be similar or share symptoms with baby blues, as that is how most postpartum depression start out. However, once you dig deeper into postpartum depression or it has gone on for a long time without being treated, you will notice more differences. In postpartum depression, you will experience:
- Excessive crying
- Loss of appetite
- Severe anxiety
- Inability to bond with your baby
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Recurring thoughts about harming yourself or the baby
While those symptoms are terrifying on their own, you should seek medical help before they reach more severe stages. If you try to contain your postpartum depression on your own, you may do more harm than good. If uncheck and untreated, postpartum depression can turn into postpartum psychosis. This is a constant thought about harming yourself and your baby, as well as attempting to act on those thoughts.
Postpartum psychosis is something that can only be treated by trained professionals, as it can turn into life-threatening behaviors and actions. That is why it is so important to talk with your doctor at the earliest signs of baby blues, so you can make sure that it does not go any further than that.
There are many treatment options available for women with baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. For many women with baby blues, simply accepting help from your family and friends can do wonders for how you are feeling. If someone offers to help with the baby so you can shower, or spend a few minutes to yourself, let them.
Take advantage of mommy and me groups to connect with other moms who may be going through the same things you are experiencing. This will give you the ability to talk with someone who has been through or who is going through the same thing. Also, try to avoid alcohol or any mind altering drugs. This is very important because your hormones are already trying to settle down from delivery and alcohol can impair your judgment even more.
For women with postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, the treatments are not as simple. You will need help from a medical professional, whether it is your regular doctor, therapist, or a specialist. Your regular doctor may suggest you see a therapist who can help you talk through all of your problems and help your find solutions for them.
You may also be prescribed medications to take to help with your hormones and stabilize your moods. By doing this, you are actively putting the depression at bay and trying to keep it that way. Depending on whether or not you are having suicidal thoughts or actions, you may be required to stay under observation at a hospital. This will allow your doctor to continue treatment, but also keep you in a place that is safe.
No matter what treatment option you choose to go with or which one is suggested to you, the most important thing you can do for yourself after delivery is get any help that you need.