Taking care of one’s health - in all possible ways like physical, emotional and mental - is essential. Mental health is of utmost importance and needs to be taken seriously. People often believe that it is not necessary to seek professional help, but not getting the right support may soon make your depression symptoms more serious.
Postpartum depression is not ‘yours or anyone’s fault’. It is basically an overwhleming feeling which results from the constant changes happening in and around you. While maintaining a good mental health is important, accepting any emotional problems you may feel is actually the first and biggest step of overcoming postpartum depression.
Therefore, read on to know, act and overcome over any forms of postpartum depression that you or anyone you know is experiencing. Here is an ultimate guide for you to understand the signs and causes, fighting against postpsrtum depression!
Postpartum Depression: Meaning
Mental health has always been a sensitive topic to discuss about. Yet, doctors have concluded that mental health issues are just a spectrum.
A spectrum is a virtual mental health line. While some women expereince the general baby blues. On the other hand, some may experience serious forms of postpartum depression i.e. a slow increase of emotional changes. This increase can be a result of genetics as well as situational and environmental factors. Such a spectrum also provides looking at mental health issues as nothing to be afraid of. Postpartum or postnatal depression also has such a spectrum:
- It is quite normal for you to have the mild “baby blues”, a form of depression experienced usually right after pregnancy.
These are changes of a sensitive nature which includes you feeling: stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired or weepy post pregnancy.
- Postpartum or postnatal depression is a moderate form of depression
It is a type of after pregnancy (usually) depression that has emotional, physical and behavioral changes. Postpartum or postnatal depression is categorised as a serious clinical mood disorder. Yet, it is a form which can be overcome and treated. This is easy if there is good professional as well as personal support around you.
- Postpartum or postnatal psychosis, on the other hand, is a serious and extreme form of depression that very rarely occurs.
This condition is experienced as seriously emotional, physical and behavioral changes. These changes are very unpredictable. Such signs come very close to effecting your day-to-day functioning much more than postpartum or postnatal depression.
Is it normal to have Postpartum Depression?
While it is not ‘normal’ to experience any of the form of emotional issue - it is also something that is not always controlled by you. Most importantly, any kind of mental health issue is 99% because of several events happening together around you. These are things like people, environment and genes. Postpartum depression
- According to studies, an average 40% to 85% mothers experience baby blues in the first 10 days.
- Around 1 in 7 women present postpartum or postnatal depression symptoms.
Some women experience this form of depression for the first time in their life. Many women also experience non-postpartum or non-postnatal depression. These are depression symptoms that are not because of pregnancy or related events.
- Postpartum or postnatal psychosis is a very rarely occurring condition. It presented in only 1-2 women of every 1,000 deliveries.
Today, it has become important to promote acceptance and avoid misleading terms.
- Enough studies have shown that postpartum or postnatal depression does not always affect women and not only who have recently been pregnant.
- Postpartum or postnatal depression tends to indirectly or directly affect the fathers as well. This is because of relationship problems with their partner or their own depressive signs i.e. a family history of depression.
- This condition can also affect anyone - of different races, genders, incomes and cultures.
- It can be before, during pregnancy or often after giving birth.
- In fact, this form of depression after pregnancy can be because of issues that are not just the guilt, inadequacy of parenthood or sensitive changes of giving birth. This can include relationships and acceptance of people around you.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
According to studies, the exact causes for postpartum or postnatal depression is unknown. This is because there is very less proof to point these causes out.
- One experience can increase the risk of another episode by up to 70% in the future.
- Genetic links i.e. family history or your previous experiences of mental illness, depression or anxiety can also add onto the causes in general.
- As postpartum or postnatal psychosis is very rare, its causes do not include women directly but rather biological causes.
Although, genetics or biological processes are known to be the predominant causes, there are many other factors that can affect mothers leading to postpartum or postnatal depression.
How long does Postpartum Depression last?
- One experiences the baby blues from 24 to 72 hours, after which they typically subside.
- Postpartum or postnatal depression can last for many weeks (usually 4-weeks after delivery), months or years if left untreated for up to 25% individuals.
- On the other hand, postpartum or postnatal psychosis lasts 6 -12 months or more. This happens if there is no careful care, observation and support to avoid more episodes again. In many cases, one is usually not able tackle a second episode in a better manner.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The spectrum of depression after pregnancy keeps switching always. This happens as per mild, moderate to severe nature of symptoms. Further, the way these symptoms occur is different in different individuals who suffer from postpartum or postnatal depression.
- If you strongly feel that you seem to be disturbed for an approximate of 2-weeks then it is possible that you are experiencing postpartum or postnatal depression.
- Sometimes, it can be hard for you to get through the day because there is constant emotions, stress and changes in your body after pregnancy.
- In many cases, women also lose their appetite and interest in caring for their little one.
[Read more: 4 Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression]
When should you see a doctor?
It is alright to seek help and there is no problem in doing so! Asking a loved one, family, friend or doctor for support is the first major step to recovering from depression after pregnancy. You must consult with a doctor if:
- You feel that you have lost the ability to perform your day-to-day activities well at home, with friends and at work.
- You strongly and surely feel that you are experiencing at least five (or more) of the above symptoms.
- Although psychosis is rare, if you feel that you seem to be losing your hold on reality you must immediately seek help.
- Loved ones around you feel that you seem to be distressed, uncomfortable and unhappy constantly.
Dealing with Postpartum Depression
Like the signs of postpartum or postnatal depression, the treatment for depression after pregnancy differs from person to person. Moreover, it is important to remember that seeking help is not unnatural at all! Along with consultation with proper doctors and support from people around you - treatment is always effective. You can overcome postpartum or postnatal depression very easily.
1. Be open.
- While talking about your feelings or what is bothering you is not easy, try your best to be as open about the same with anyone i.e. your friends, family, relatives, partner as well as other mothers.
- Always remember, it is no one’s fault and acceptance is an important first step.
- Then treatment is very much possible, easy and successful.
- There should be maximum active engagement from you as well as the people around you - however it is possible.
2. Seek all support.
- Since mental health has become an equal priority, especially after pregnancy depression, there are an abundant number of professional centers.
- Several emergency hotlines are there to contact if you are feeling any signs (like suicidal thoughts).
- There are a number of support group talks that you can participate in, where you can share your struggles with other mothers.
- In addition, having relatives/friends/neighbors to talk to, guide you to appropriate professional forums and help out with after pregnancy care/help (like chores or the baby) - all provide a sense of understanding that is another major step to overcoming depression after pregnancy.
3. Be aware of the signs!
- First, it is important that you provide your child with a safe space. Your child is close to being your first priority along with keeping yourself mentally healthy.
- It is after this that you immediately start acting on the symptoms you feel you are experiencing. Thus, this is most effective with no danger of additional vulnerabilities.
- In fact, postpartum/postnatal depression cannot just affect your loved ones around after pregnancy. It can affect your fetus during pregnancy as well. Postpartum or postnatal depression creates high influences of anxiety, stress and/or depression (social or general) signs for the growing baby in the womb.
- After birth, sensitivity in babies make them imitate their caregivers by being similarly irritable and difficult to calm down. This also greatly affects the strong maturity of thought process and general development of the child even till adulthood. It is, therefore, important to equally give attention to the child’s need for care and health.
4. Effective treatments
Official treatments for depression after pregnancy are:
- various forms of psychotherapy
- which is always combined with medication
- and skills to manage and cope with your feelings of postpartum or postnatal depression (it can be individual as well as support group therapy).
5. Be active.
- Once you have properly consulted with a professional, pro-activity in your lifestyle adds a positive twist to your treatment to overcome depression after pregnancy.
- Example like walks and exercises add not only concentration skills but also a sense of confident motivation that depression after pregnancy can be effectively tackled.
Negotiate with reality.
Most important of all, try your best to stay calm and determined! Only do what can be done at the point and take support from the loved ones around you. Any mental illness is treatable. Neither is it unnatural to seek support nor is it ‘abnormal’ to experience mental illness or depression after pregnancy. Mental issues are consequences of several events that happen together. This can be effectively tackled with the right amount of support around you.
So, keep yourself informed, talk to other mothers and always seek assistance from professionals if you know that there might be something wrong! Postpartum depression
Disclaimer- All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.