Having a baby is one of the most special times in a woman’s life. There are so many new things to experience and a new human being to care for, but there can be a downside. Between all the new responsibilities and the changes taking place in your body, a mother may become depressed. This type of depression is called postpartum depression and it is a complicated condition.
What is it?
Postpartum depression is associated with three different types of depression:
Early onset: usually takes place right after a baby is born, and only lasts a couple of weeks. It clears up on its own and is not considered to be very serious.
Late onset: usually doesn’t start affecting the mother until a few weeks after delivery or can occur up to 6 months later. It may affect the mother so significantly that it can interfere with how she cares for the baby. It may clear up on its own but could last for many months. Treatment is often recommended.
Psychosis: the most serious condition that starts a few days after delivery. The symptoms are more extreme and treatment is recommended as soon as signs are noticed.
This article will focus mostly on the late onset variety of postpartum depression, due to the fact that it is the most common condition you hear about.
Since we already know what the condition is, we can now take a look at the symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Symptoms include: unstable moods, inability to eat or wanting to eat too much, inability to bond with child, spontaneous crying episodes, low energy levels, thoughts of self harm, irrational fear of being a bad mother, finding no pleasure in life, and losing contact with family and friends.
This is just a short list of symptoms, and there are many more than should be closely monitored if you suspect you have this disorder, or know someone that does.
It is widely accepted that there is no specific cause of this kind of depression; instead, it is a mixture of many different changes taking place in the body and in your life.
After a baby is born, the mother’s body starts to stabilize different hormones. This can lead to different changes in mood and difficulty sleeping or staying awake. Furthermore, newborns may upset the balance of the household. There are many late nights, early mornings, and new chores to take care of that you may not be fully prepared for. This can lead to nights with no sleep, feelings that you aren’t doing a good enough job, and general irrational thoughts.
Who Can Get It?
The fact is that postpartum depression can happen to anyone, but in actuality, most people don’t get it. Only about 15 percent of all births result in the mother getting postpartum depression, but there are certain things that may make a woman more susceptible to it. This includes things like having a preexisting mental disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder, having other major problems in your life, or if you have had it before.
Even men can get it. If a man’s partner is depressed, or they have additional strife in their life and relationship, they are more susceptible to getting it themselves.
Not even celebrities are immune from the disorder. Recently actress Drew Barrymore shared her struggles with postpartum depression. She experienced it after the birth of her second daughter in 2014. Her symptoms lasted around 6 months and she felt like she was really in a funk she couldn’t get out of. Luckily, she recognized the symptoms for what they were, which led her to become more aware of what was going on. This helped her to make changes in perspective that faced the problem head on. She is now doing better and feels good about her parenting and herself.
What Can You Do?
If you notice a change in your behavior or think you may be depressed, don’t keep your mouth shut. The best thing you can do is tell someone how you are feeling. Alternatively, if you see someone with these symptoms, talk to them about it. It is important to track your behaviors to see how serious they are, in an attempt to determine if they need to be treated professionally or not.
If the symptoms are serious enough, consider reaching out to a professional for more help. They can offer you a range of solutions or refer you to a mental health professional that may be able to help you further.
There are a number of different treatments available to manage the symptoms of postpartum depression. They range from simple to complex.
At home treatment, which includes getting enough sleep, delegating tasks to others, and getting as much help as you need.
Psychotherapy sessions, or talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist about what is bothering you and how you feel.
Different types of medication, which involves taking antidepressants to manage symptoms. This should be used as a last resort, because it can affect breast milk.
Things to Remember
While postpartum depression is a serious illness, you should not fear it. Many people have had it and gotten better, and in some cases it may clear up on its own. There are also different treatment options that can alleviate symptoms and lessen anxiety and fears. Also, there are things you can do to help lessen your chances of getting depressed.
Remember to always set reasonable expectations for yourself. You do not have to be perfect all the time or do everything. You can delegate tasks to others whenever you need to.
Gather a support system. Learn how to ask for help whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.
Eat a healthy diet. Along with exercise, a balanced diet can go a long way to keeping you happy and healthy.
Take a minute to yourself. When you need a nap or to take a bath, do it. You have to take care of yourself, in order to be of use to others.
Now that you know all about postpartum depression, you can understand the symptoms and offer suggestions and help to anyone you see or know that may need it. Moreover, you can protect yourself from this condition by making healthy choices and being mindful.