Postpartum Depression

Depression overall is a major issue for many people, but sometimes postpartum depression is overlooked and ignored. Women suffering from postpartum depression sometimes suffer alone not necessarily, because they want to, but many do not even know they have it. Both OB/GYNs and pediatricians do a depression screening as a way to diagnose postpartum depression in mothers. Having a baby is a wonderful thing, but sometimes the sudden changes of a brand new baby can bring about depression symptoms. If you have recently had a child and are struggling with depression, you may have postpartum depression. Do not be afraid to see a doctor about it. The best thing you can do is talk to a doctor about it and get treatment.

What is Postpartum Depression?

postpartum depression baby mother child sad top10md md doctorPostpartum depression is simply the onset of depression after having a child. Nearly 1 in 7 mothers struggles with postpartum depression. This statistic alone shows how common the problem is. Sometimes postpartum depression is hard to talk about because you cannot process why you would feel sad about having a child. It is not that the birth of your child is a bad or depressing thing, but the sudden change brings a wave of emotions. Every birth is different. Some women find an immediate attachment to their child and develop a feeling of elation and joy. There are so many women who do not automatically feel that attachment and instead of joy feel depressed. Sometimes the problem goes undiagnosed because women do not understand the symptoms. Knowing the symptoms of postpartum depression is the first step.

Symptoms

Symptoms of postpartum depression include depressed mood as well as excessive crying. You tend to have mood swings that are very severe. You have a lot of trouble bonding and showing affection to your child. Just like depression, you withdraw and desire to be alone. Fatigue takes over, and you may lose your appetite. You will experience a lot of anger and may even have thoughts of suicide.  It is normal to feel guilt and anxiety. You can sometimes feel like you are not a fit mother. These symptoms last longer than just a few days. These symptoms can last a month.

Cause

There is no real reason why some mothers experience this, and others do not. Besides giving birth, the symptoms may also be related to physical and emotional changes. The body undergoes major changes after giving birth. Some of the biggest changes are related to hormone levels. Estrogen and progesterone, two major female hormones, drop tremendously. Hormones help to balance our emotions and play a physical role as well. These hormones have a direct correlation with postpartum depression. Hormones in the thyroid gland may drop as well. These hormones affect energy level and can also put you in a depressed mood. When outside emotional issues are going on, it too can heighten your risk of postpartum depression. Having a child may only make already existing problems worse. You begin to lose sleep, and sometimes the anxiety of caring for a newborn just makes things harder. These changes can bring you into a depressed mood.

Risk Factors 

There are many risk factors for postpartum depression. If you currently suffer from depression or have a family history of depression, you are at a higher risk of postpartum depression. Financial and family issues may also increase your risk. Sometimes a previous pregnancy has brought about the same symptoms; if that is the case, it could mean pregnancy causes postpartum depression for you. Sometimes difficulty with breastfeeding and relationship issues cause problems as well.

Treatment and Diagnosis

Postpartum Depression md top10mdPostpartum Depression is typically diagnosed first with an obstetrician. The doctor does a Postpartum depression questionnaire and assesses whether or not you have depression based on your answers. Each answer is associated with a number. The higher the number of points, the higher your postpartum depression risks. At your first doctor’s visit, your child’s pediatrician may also assess postpartum depression with the same questionnaire. If you have already done the questionnaire, you do not have to do it again, but many pediatricians want you to.  

There are different methods of treatment. Antidepressant medication is one. You have to be careful with medication because it can be transferred to your child through breast milk. It is best to stay away from medication if you are breastfeeding. Another method of treatment is talking with a therapist in a treatment method known as psychotherapy. Talking out your problems and getting things off of your chest can do you a lot of good. Therapist help by giving you ways to cope and options for channeling those feelings. Learning to let go of guilt and understanding it is not your fault will also help.

Postpartum depression is a difficult thing for many mothers. Many women suffer from this very same problem. If you are suffering, know that you are not alone. Postpartum depression is not something that you have to suffer with alone. Sometimes the symptoms are too much to deal with on your own. Having a doctor there to help you is the best thing for you. It is time to get the treatment you need so you can feel normal again.

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