Postpartum is the period after a mother has given birth. It is common for many mothers to have baby blues a few days after giving birth. Baby blues are characterized by feeling empty or sad.
Baby blues usually last for 3 to 5 days. If baby blues last longer than 2 weeks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Baby blues include feeling hopeless, sad, and empty. Feeling hopeless, empty, or sad after birth is not a normal thing.
Postpartum depression is a type of mental illness that affects the physical health and behavior of a person. For mothers with postpartum depression, feeling hopeless, empty, and sad does not go away and will even interfere with their daily lives.
Postpartum depression causes mothers to feel disconnected from their baby, they may not feel like the baby’s mother. In some cases, the mother may not care for the baby and may not love them. These feelings can be mild or severe.
Under normal circumstances, having a baby is an exciting, anxious, and joyous time for most mothers. However, this is not the case for women with postpartum depression. The period after giving birth is a difficult and distressing period for them.
Peripartum depression is the depression that occurs during and after pregnancy. Peripartum is used to acknowledge that depression postpartum depression usually begins during pregnancy. Peripartum is a serious condition although it can be treated.
Peripartum depression causes mothers to feel anxious and sad. It may cause changes in the mother’s appetite, energy, and sleep. It is risky for both mother and baby. Many women are vulnerable during pregnancy and in the period just after birth.
During pregnancy and after birth, there are immense social, biological, emotional, and financial changes that mothers go through. In some cases, mothers may develop mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Compared to postpartum depression, baby blues are more common. Most times baby blues go away within 3 days and may not require medical attention. Symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, restlessness, and crying for no reason.
These symptoms go away on their own and do not require medical treatment. A major difference between baby blues and postpartum depression is that postpartum depression is more physically and emotionally debilitating. It can last for months or longer. It is important to seek medical attention if one is suffering from postpartum depression.
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Several normal changes after pregnancy may have symptoms that can be mistaken for those of postpartum depression. The arrival of a baby can be overwhelming for some mothers.
However, a mother should seek medical attention if they experience the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
Some mothers do not talk to others about their symptoms. This is mainly because they feel guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed about feeling depressed at a time they should be feeling happy.
Mothers may also be afraid of being perceived as bad mothers. Any mother can suffer from postpartum depression or be depressed even during pregnancy. Mothers should know that suffering from depression does not make them bad mothers.
Depressed mothers should not suffer in silence because their depression can also affect the baby as much as it affects them. Instead, they are encouraged to seek medical attention. Doctors can help establish if the symptoms are caused by depression or if they are caused by something else.
Postpartum depression can occur in any person but some mothers tend to be at a higher risk. Mothers at a high risk of postpartum depression are those who:
Any mother can experience postpartum depression. This includes surrogate mothers and gestational carriers. They all can experience mood disorders. Women who have previously experienced mood disorders, depression, or have a family history of depression are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
Their chances of developing postpartum depression can be further heightened by stressful events during pregnancy or if they lack support from friends and family. Moods are greatly affected by changes in thyroid hormones, stress, and sex hormones. Changes in these hormones during and after pregnancy can trigger postpartum depression.
Physical changes that come with pregnancy as well as changes at work and in relationships may also contribute to postpartum depression. Pregnancy may sometimes cause a lack of sleep and may also trigger depression. Parenting worries may also cause postpartum depression.
A major cause of postpartum depression is hormonal changes. Levels of female hormones increase when one is pregnant. These hormones include progesterone and estrogen. These two hormones are at their highest during pregnancy.
Hormones quickly go back to their normal levels as soon as 24 hours after birth. It is believed that this abrupt change in hormone levels is what causes depression. These changes in hormone levels are similar to those that happen before a woman starts menstruating.
After birth, thyroid hormone levels may reduce. The thyroid gland is a tiny gland in the neck that is responsible for regulating how the body uses and stores energy obtained from food. Reduced levels of thyroid hormone can trigger symptoms of depression. Changes in thyroid hormone can be detected through a blood test.
Feelings that may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression include:
Mothers of newborns usually experience some or all of these feelings. Postpartum depression can be treated.
It is common for new fathers to experience postpartum depression as well. New fathers will tend to feel anxious, overwhelmed, fatigued, or experience changes in their sleeping patterns. Usually, they will experience symptoms of postpartum depression similar to those experienced by mothers.
New fathers who are at risk of postpartum depression include those experiencing relationship or financial problems, those who are young, and those with a history of depression.
Fathers experiencing anxiety and symptoms of depression should talk to a healthcare professional. Treatment options and support offered for mothers and fathers with postpartum depression are the same.
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There are various types of treatment for people with postpartum depression. They include:
If left untreated, postpartum depression can cause family problems and may interfere with the bonding between the mother and child. Untreated depression can cause the following:
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