After delivering a child, a mother can succumb to overwhelming emotions of fear and anxiety, which can ultimately lead to her development of depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a multitude of depressed emotions in the mother, which develop within four weeks of delivery. Baby blues, which most women develop after delivery, entails mood swings in the mother that gradually fade away. PPD is a more severe disorder that typically lasts for an extended period of time, unlike baby blues.
Contrary to belief, PPD is not a weakness of the mother, it is just one of the complications associated with delivery. The symptoms of PPD can be relieved with appropriate treatment. This major form of depression is associated with a number of physical, chemical, and emotional changes that are develop during pregnancy. One of the more significant changes that can cause the development of PPD is a major change in hormone levels within the mother.
Some of the factors that may increase the risk of PPD include:
- History of depression
- Pregnancy at a young age
- Marital conflicts
- Financial problems
- A weak support system
- Multiple children
Some of the common symptoms of PPD that are confused with baby blues include:
- A lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Feeling guilty or inadequate
- Loss of pleasure
- Hopelessness or helplessness
If left untreated, these symptoms may persist for several months. Most mothers do not normally share these symptoms with others, due to a fear of embarrassment. It is vital that a mother who experiences any of the symptoms derived from PPD, seek medical attention immediately, if the symptoms do not subside within a few days. PPD left untreated can put the mother and the child in danger. In rare cases, PPD may lead to a more serious form of depression, called postpartum psychosis.
Counseling and medication are two common modes of treatment used to manage the symptoms of PPD. Antidepressants that are safe to use during pregnancy are recommended to alleviate signs of depression. Moreover, hormone therapy can be suggested to manage the sudden drop in hormone levels after the delivery. If a woman with PPD receives proper treatment, PPD can subside within a few weeks.
It is vital that women who receive treatment for PPD continue with their treatment, even after they start feeling better, due to potential relapse.