Postpartum blues is a transient state of mental illness observed 4-5 days after childbirth, and it lasts for a few days. It is estimated that 80 percent of women experience these emotions after childbirth for a week or two.
“Baby blues” are common after childbirth for many new mothers. Common symptoms are mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. After delivery, baby blues usually begin around two to three days after delivery and may last for two weeks.
There is also a form of depression that is more severe and long-lasting (can remain weeks after childbirth) in first-time mothers which is known as postpartum depression. In rare cases, postpartum psychosis may also occur after childbirth.
Causes Of Postpartum Depression:
Physical and emotional issues may play a role in postpartum depression, but there is no single cause.
Postpartum depression results from a dramatic drop in hormone levels (progesterone and estrogen levels) after childbirth. You may also experience a sharp decline in thyroid hormone levels, which may make you feel depressed, tired, and sluggish.
Sleep-deprived and overburdened individuals may find it challenging to handle even minor problems. Having a newborn may cause you to experience anxiety. It is possible that you feel unattractive, lack confidence, or control your life. Postpartum depression can occur as a result of any of these factors. Postpartum depression can also affect daily life activities.
Risk Factors Of Postpartum Depression
Any new mom can develop postpartum depression. It doesn’t matter whether this is her first or second child. However, the risk of depression is higher if:
- Your depression has been a part of your past, either during pregnancy or other times.
- You have bipolar disorder.
- A previous pregnancy left you with postpartum depression.
- Family history of postpartum depression or another mental disorder or mood disorders (major depression, depressive disorder, schizoaffective disorder).
- During the past year, stressful events have occurred, like pregnancy complications, illness, or job loss.
- You undergo stressful life events resulting in extreme sadness.
- There are health issues with your baby.
- If you’re having twins, triplets, or other multiples births,
- Having trouble breastfeeding
- You or your partner are experiencing relationship problems.
- You lack a strong support system.
- Financial troubles plague you.
- A pregnancy was unexpected or unwanted.
Signs Of Postpartum Depression
Signs and Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression Last Longer Than Those Of Baby Blues. Following Signs And Symptoms May Occur:
- Low mood and frequent mood swings
- Excessive crying for no reason
- Lack of bond with the newborn
- No interest in family or friends
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Low sex drive
- Sleep changes (either sleeping too much or lack of sleep)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Lack of interest in daily tasks or things you enjoy
- Getting angry and irritability
- Feeling like you are a bad mother
- Shame, guilt, or an underlying feeling of worthlessness
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Panic attacks and severe anxiety
- Feelings that you might harm yourself or your baby
- Suicidal thoughts or feelings of insecurity
Treatment for Postpartum Depression
The best way of treatment of mothers with postpartum depression is by taking good care of yourself before, during, and after pregnancy. If you do become depressed, talk to your doctor about treatment options. The following treatments may help alleviate your symptoms:
This type of therapy involves talking to a therapist who will listen to you and help you work through your emotions. Your therapist may suggest medication, such as antidepressants.
Antidepressants are often used to treat postpartum depression. They include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s), and atypical antipsychotics.
SSRIs are generally considered safer than older medications. This is because they don’t cause physical side effects as frequently. In addition, some studies show that women who take SSRIs while pregnant are less likely to give birth prematurely.
Counselling helps you identify and deal with stressors related to your situation. It also teaches you how to cope with difficult situations. It can include supportive therapy like CBT.
Symptoms Of Baby Blues Last Only A Few Days To a Week Or Two After Your Baby Is Born, May Include:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of Sadness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Sleep Deprivation
Since baby blues don’t last longer, it is not really affect the health of moms who have undergone childbirth. Treatment of baby blues is usually psychological support by family members.
Postpartum Psychosis (Peripartum Psychosis)
Peripartum psychosis, a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery, has severe signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of peripartum psychosis may include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy and agitation
- Suicide Attempts
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Psychosis following pregnancy can lead to life-threatening behaviours and thoughts that require immediate medical attention.
A mental health professional must be consulted urgently. Hospitalization is needed. Antipsychotic drugs like chlorpromazine and sublingual estradiol result in significant improvement.
Your health care provider can keep a close watch on you for symptoms of depression. A depression-screening questionnaire may be given to you during and after your pregnancy.
A support group, counselling, or another form of therapy can sometimes help manage mild depression. In addition, sometimes antidepressants are prescribed – even during pregnancy.
After Your Baby Is Born
A checkup will identify signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Since detecting it sooner allows early treatment.
During your first few weeks after delivery, health professionals may recommend you begin antidepressant treatment or psychotherapy.
Postpartum blues are something that new mothers need to be aware of. Getting proper knowledge is crucial to control episodes of depression and get an effective treatment.
If you have a history of depression, especially postpartum depression, let your doctor know if you plan to become pregnant or discover you’re pregnant.
The sooner you seek help, the better. If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression, talk to your doctor. He/she will refer you to a psychiatrist who specializes in treating postpartum women with depression and other mental illnesses.