Need information about postpartum depression

Bala K

Dear Bala, the birth of a baby can trigger many emotions, from excitement and  joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression. Many new moms experience “baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells that fade quickly. But some new moms experience more severe, long-lasting depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, but an extreme form of postpartum depression known as postpartum psychosis develops after childbirth. Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth.
Some risk factors are:
1.      history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
2.      experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
3.      problems in  a relationship
4.      weak support system
5.      financial problems
6.      pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
There’s no single cause of postpartum depression. Physical, emotional and lifestyle factors may all play a role.
1.      Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the body may contribute to postpartum depression.
2.      Emotional factors. When she is deprived of sleep and overwhelmed, she may have trouble handling even minor problems. She may be anxious about her ability to care for a newborn.
3.      Lifestyle influences. Many lifestyle factors can lead to postpartum depression, including a demanding baby or older siblings, difficulty breast-feeding, financial problems, and lack of support from your partner or other loved ones.
Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary, depending on the type of depression.
1.      Signs and symptoms of the baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two — may include:
2. Mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, decreased concentration and trouble sleeping
Postpartum depression may appear to be baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with the ability to care for the baby and handle other daily tasks.
Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
1.      Loss of appetite
2.      Insomnia
3.      Intense irritability and anger
4.      Overwhelming fatigue
5.      Loss of interest in sex
6.      Lack of joy in life
7.      Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
8.      Severe mood swings
9.      Difficulty bonding with your baby
10.  Withdrawal from family and friends
11.  Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Postpartum depression is often treated with counselling and medication.
1.      Counselling. It may help to talk through her concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional. Through counselling, she can find better ways to cope with her feelings, solve problems and set realistic goals. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.
2.      Antidepressants drugs  
3.      Hormone therapy.  
Some coping mechanisms
1.      Make healthy lifestyle choices which include physical activity and eat healthy foods, and avoid alcohol.
2.   Reduce pressure and scale back expectations for the perfect household. Do what she can and leave the rest. Ask for help when she needs it.
3.      Avoid isolation. Talk with her partner, family and friends about how she is feeling. Ask other mothers about their experiences.

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