Mood swings are normal after giving birth. Your emotions could be so high then down the next minute. These changes in emotion is called post partum baby blues, which begins two to three days after giving birth and usually lasts for two weeks.
On the other hand, some moms or new moms experience severe and long-lasting depression. This is called post partum depression. This kind of depression is a complication of giving birth.
Post partum depression affects about 15% of women and about 20% of women who have post partum baby blues develop depression. Post partum depression occurs within the first four weeks after childbirth. At first, post partum depression may be mistaken as baby blues. However, the signs and symptoms are more severe which lasts longer than baby blues.
Causes of Post Partum Depression
There’s no exact cause for post partum depression. But, the physical and emotional issues are highly associated with this condition.
Hormonal changes continue after giving birth. A drop in estrogen and progesterone may contribute to post partum depression. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland will also decrease in level making you feel tired and depressed.
Emotions play a big role after childbirth. Being overwhelmed and lack of sleep may cause decision making difficult for you, even minor ones. You may feel less attractive and unable to take care of yourself. And, the anxiety of taking care of a newborn might be overpowering you.
Symptoms of Post Partum Depression
The symptoms of post partum depression may last from weeks up to year. These include:
- Severe mood swings
- Depressed mood
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Severe anger and irritability
- Insomnia (inability to sleep) or sleeping too much
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Isolating self from family and friends
- Overwhelming loss of energy
- Fear that you’re not a good parent
- Thoughts of harming yourself as well as your baby
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased ability to think clearly, focus and concentrate or make decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
What to do if you have Post Partum Depression?
If you’re feeling depressed and experiencing the signs and symptoms of post partum depression, call your doctor and have your condition be treated immediately.
Seek medical attention if:
- Your depression doesn’t fade after two weeks
- You’re having thoughts of endangering yourself and your baby
- Your symptoms are getting worse
- It’s hard for you to take care of your baby
- It’s hard to do or finish everyday activities
How is Post Partum Depression Treated?
Treatment for post partum depression varies from person to person. This will depend on how severe the condition is and the individual needs of the person.
Post partum depression is managed through psychotherapy, medications or both.
Talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist during psychotherapy can help you cope with your feelings. There are two effective ways of psychotherapy which can help with post partum depression. These are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Psychotherapy will also help you find better ways to make decisions, solve problems, respond to situations positively and set realistic goals.
Doctors may recommend antidepressants to manage depression. These medications interact with the brain chemicals responsible for mood regulation. Discuss with your health care provider if antidepressants are safe for you and your baby especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Without treatment, post partum depression can last for years. Don’t be ashamed if you’re experiencing depression. You’ll need all the help you can get to overcome your condition.