POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: SYMPTOMS, CAUSES, AND TREATMENT
Childbirth is a life-changing experience for every mother. The process of transformation begins from conception and continues even after childbirth. A mother experiences a myriad of emotions, ranging from happiness to anxiety following the birth of a child.
It is okay to feel a little worried and irritable after delivering a baby. Minor mood swings, irritability, reduced concentration, and sleep disturbances are often due to baby blues and these disappear usually after a couple of weeks.
However, sometimes, these symptoms can worsen and persist for a longer time. Post-delivery depression triggers similar symptoms with greater intensity and interferes with the mother’s ability to look after the baby. Depression after delivery affects childcare and the bond between the newborn and the mother. Doctors can diagnose postpartum depression (PPD) within a few weeks after childbirth.
Fortunately, there are reliable postpartum depression treatment options as medication and therapy. Postpartum depression can be because of a variety of social, physical, and emotional changes. It is possible to overcome postpartum depression by consulting your doctor and by incorporating a few healthy changes into your daily routine. Postpartum depression does not mean that there is some problem with the mother’s attitude. It is simply a complex outcome of childbirth, which is curable with help of proper and timely treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Physical and mental fatigue is a natural outcome of childbirth. However, in post-delivery depression, mood swings, and other symptoms interfere with the childcare. Postpartum depression symptoms can also significantly harm the natural bond of motherhood, causing considerable damage to the process of child development. Watch out for the symptoms mentioned below. These symptoms can begin after childbirth or may also manifest during pregnancy.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Sudden loss of appetite or excessive craving for food.
- A feeling of detachment from family or friends.
- Loss of bonding with the baby.
- Thoughts of hurting the child.
- Irritability and bouts of extreme anger.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Panic attacks.
- Inexplicable crying.
- Feelings of shame and guilt.
- Lack of concentration.
- Loss of decision-making ability.
- Continuous restlessness.
Postpartum depression symptoms can persist for a long time in the absence of early detection and treatment. Most of these symptoms might harm the mother and child in terms of their physical and mental status. If these symptoms continue for over two weeks, then professional medical help is necessary. Timely treatment can reverse the condition and restore the loving bond between a mother and child.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION– TREATMENT
Treatment of post-delivery depression should start as soon as possible. Prevention, medication, therapy, and self-care are important postpartum depression treatment options.
- PREVENTION OF PPD – Prevention is possible by closely monitoring the mother for symptoms throughout the pregnancy if there is a history of PPD. Management of mild depression with help of medication and support groups is necessary for such patients during the pregnancy. After childbirth, prompt initiation of psychotherapy and medication with antidepressants can help mothers if there is a history of PPD.
- MEDICATION – Medicines to treat postpartum depression comprise antidepressants and hormone therapy. Antidepressants work by regulating the mood and have a slow onset of action. Hormone therapy aims to correct the hormonal imbalance.
- THERAPY – Therapy for postpartum depression involves counseling by mental health professionals such as psychologists. The counseling sessions focus on strategies to help patients deal effectively with destructive tendencies.
- SELF-CARE TREATMENT FOR PPD– One should not feel isolated as there are several support groups to help mothers who are going through post-delivery depression. Trying to be in the company of loved ones and not allowing the feelings of isolation to creep in are some self-care tips.
CAUSES OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
A plethora of factors can cause postpartum depression. These factors are different for different patients. Major causes of post-delivery depression are hormonal changes and psychological issues. Some underlying health issues can also lead to post-delivery depression.
A woman’s body undergoes dramatic hormonal changes following the delivery of the child. There is a sudden drop in levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones in the body after childbirth. These changes may be responsible for the feeling of lethargy, loss of energy, and depression.
Emotional issues are also responsible for the onset of postpartum depression. The mother may feel unattractive because of physical changes following childbirth. There is also a possibility of a sudden feeling of emptiness and loss of control over one’s life. These emotional problems can worsen because of anxiety about shouldering additional responsibilities. Recent history of death in the family, financial problems, or any other overwhelming event in personal life can substantially contribute to the emotional factors that may cause postpartum depression.
In addition, certain physical factors, such as sleep deprivation, alcohol or drug addiction, and malnutrition, can also contribute to the onset of postpartum depression.
Although the incidence of postpartum psychosis is rare, it is a very serious mental illness. The mother may experience hallucinations and may imagine things. Usually, patients with postpartum psychosis get detached from reality and the surrounding environment. A mother can become over-obsessive about the child or may become extremely violent and inflict harm on herself or the child. She can also become extremely frantic and uncontrollable.
Postpartum psychosis can occur within the first few weeks after delivery and the symptoms may require hospital admission to avoid any mishap. These patients see, hear, or feel things that do not exist. They may suddenly start throwing things around for no reason. The erratic behaviour may get serious with suicidal tendencies.
Early diagnosis and treatment of postpartum psychosis are vital to avoid further risks and complications that can be grave. Postpartum psychosis must be treated as an emergency since it is a life-threatening mental illness. Aggressive medication and other treatments are necessary to stabilise the patient. Following this, doctors would recommend psychological counseling therapy and prolonged medication that will be tapered off carefully as the patient returns to normal.