Statistically, one in ten women experiences depression after childbirth. It is not just an accumulated fatigue or bad mood, but a serious disorder that requires the help of a specialist and support from loved ones.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mental disorder experienced by about 10-13% of women who have given birth. It can occur not only immediately after childbirth, but also after two weeks, a couple of months, or even a year later. PPD usually lasts from a few weeks to a few months. But there are cases where the condition does not go away for more than a year: then it gradually develops into other forms of depressive disorder.
Some women experience symptoms of BPD during pregnancy, after a miscarriage and an abortion. It is also encountered by men who have recently had a child.
Symptoms and similar disorders
Postpartum depression can be confused with baby blues, a state of melancholy that lasts for the first ten days after giving birth. Their symptoms are similar, but the baby blues are less intense. More women experience it – about 50% of women who have given birth.
The final diagnosis should be determined by a medical professional, but to understand that we may be talking about PRD, these signs help:
- sudden mood swings;
- loss of appetite or intense hunger;
- insomnia, or constant sleepiness;
- lack of interest even in their favorite activities;
- difficulties in communicating with the child, loss of interest in him or her;
- feelings of shame, guilt, inferiority;
- devaluation of oneself as a mother;
- desire to harm oneself or the child;
- suicidal thoughts.
PPD can be caused by lack of sleep, overexertion, problematic childbirth, and hormonal changes, including a sharp drop in estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones.
Women who are particularly susceptible to postpartum depression who:
- Have experienced depressive episodes personally or have a family history of mental illness;
- Have experienced a major shock during pregnancy, such as the death of a loved one
- Have abused alcohol or drugs;
- Know that the child has a congenital health problem;
- Did not want a child or have mixed feelings about motherhood;
- Do not have social support, have financial difficulties.
How to deal with postpartum depression
The first and main task is to recognize that there is a problem, and not to write off the disorder to fatigue or adaptation to change. Then it is worth seeking help. First, delegate some of the child care responsibilities to family members or a babysitter. The woman herself should try to normalize sleep and nutrition, as well as more frequent walks, watch your favorite comedies, socialize with friends and spend at least some time during the day without the child.
Second, make an appointment with a specialist. If a woman with postpartum depression does not have enough strength to do it on her own, help from loved ones is needed. It is possible to cope with the disorder through counseling or taking medication. If medication is prescribed, you need someone to make sure you take your medication on time.
What to do if you notice signs of postpartum depression in loved ones
The most important thing you can do in this situation is to provide support. You can help take care of the baby and the house, try to convince them to see a specialist or at least listen and find encouraging words.
How postpartum depression affects parents and baby
Depression negatively affects the quality of life. And if this condition is not worked on, it can drag on for years, lead to repeated episodes later, or even develop into other more serious illnesses. Postpartum depression in the mother increases the risk of this disorder in the father of the child as well. Although male PPD can also occur for other reasons, such as a hormonal malfunction or a history of depressive episodes.
Maternal PPD can cause sleep and appetite disturbances, as well as colic in the child. Prolonged depression affects the infant’s cognitive and emotional development – it can make the infant aggressive or anxious.