You’ve just had a baby. Congratulations! This is a fantastic time that comes with lots of new challenges, both physically and emotionally. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and even a little bit anxious. But for some women, these feelings don’t go away after a few weeks or even months. They may even get worse. You may suffer post-partum depression (PPD) if this sounds like you. It’s estimated to affect about 6% to 20% of women , and it can be disastrous if left untreated.
What is PPD?
PPD is a form of clinical depression that can occur in the weeks or months following childbirth. It’s important to note that PPD differs from the “baby blues,” which are pretty standard and tend to go away on their own within a few days or weeks . Instead, PPD is more severe and long-lasting, and if left untreated, it can have serious consequences for both mother and child.
Fortunately, treatments available can help you manage your symptoms and start feeling like yourself again. Here’s what you need to know about PPD and how to treat it.
What are the symptoms of PPD?
The most common symptom of PPD is persistent sadness or emptiness that doesn’t go away with time. Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Withdrawing from social life
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless
- Irritability or aggression
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Anxiety or panic attacks
These symptoms can make everyday activities extremely difficult to manage. If you’re struggling to take care of yourself or your baby, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. Untreated PPD can lead to serious complications such as substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and suicide. In severe cases, it can even result in infanticide.
Risk Factors For PPD
Much like any disorder, PPD has its own set of risk factors. Here are the three most common risk factors for PPD:
Women with a family history of major depressive disorder or other mental disorders are more likely to develop PPD.
Stressful Life Events
The stress of pregnancy and childbirth can trigger depression, which may lead to PPD. Other stressful life events, such as a divorce or financial setbacks, can also increase your risk.
Past Mental Health Disorders
Women with a history of mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are more likely to develop PPD.
How is PPD treated?
If you think you might be suffering from PPD, the first step is to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They will likely perform a physical exam to rule out any other potential causes for your symptoms (such as thyroid problems) and may also recommend some blood tests. If they suspect you have PPD, they will refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating PPD; treatment will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how well you respond to specific interventions. However, some common treatments include:
Appreciating The Experience
Women who don’t see the bright side during pregnancy often experience PPD. Psychiatrists recommend that pregnant women should do their best to appreciate the experience. One way to do this is to get their picture taken by an experienced maternity photographer. A simple picture can capture a woman’s beauty and journey into motherhood, allowing her to appreciate the beauty of marriage and remember it for years to come.
Another way to appreciate pregnancy is to spend time with your partner. In addition to providing emotional support, your partner can also help you manage the stress of pregnancy by doing everyday tasks like grocery shopping or cooking meals.
These can help reduce mood swings and improve sleep patterns. Commonly prescribed mood stabilizers include antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Talking with a therapist can help you understand and manage your emotions better. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can treat PPD by teaching coping skills and allowing you to develop healthy thought patterns.
Many online and offline support groups are available for women struggling with PPD. These groups provide an opportunity to share experiences and support one another in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.
In severe cases where other treatments haven’t been effective or if there’s a concern for the safety of either mother or child, hospitalization may be recommended so that the mother can receive around-the-clock care.
PPD is a serious but treatable condition that affects many women after they give birth. If you think you might be suffering from PPD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help—the sooner you get treatment, the better! Once you get the treatment, you can focus on bonding with your new baby and enjoying this particular time.