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Understanding women who suffer from postpartum depression

01-23 | DTC Team

Understanding women who suffer from postpartum depression

New mothers usually experience a variety of emotions, ranging from elation and glee to despair and anxiousness. The baby blues after childbirth may start first few days after the baby’s birth and can last for up to two weeks. And when these postpartum blues get severe and refuse to go away, the new mothers may be at the risk of developing postpartum depression (PPD) that can start a few weeks from the delivery. Usually, it is observed during the first three months of delivery.

For a woman suffering from PPD does not mean that the woman is a bad or a negligent mother. Various factors are responsible for PPD. In rare cases, a severe mood disorder called postpartum psychosis may also set in after the childbirth. Luckily, PPD is a treatable medical illness; swift treatment can help manage the symptoms and enrich one’s relationship with the baby. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), approximately one in seven women every year suffer from PPD. But 85 percent such women never receive the psychological help, says the Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit working for creating awareness on maternal mental health.

Signs and symptoms of PPD

PPD can often be misinterpreted as baby blues at first sight but ultimately it starts to prolong and interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her child and even affect her daily activities. New mothers may be at a risk of developing PPD within 12 months after the childbirth if they are experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • bouts of depressive episodes
  • increased spells of crying
  • problems bonding with baby
  • loss of appetite and fluctuation in eating habit
  • insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • fear of not being a good mother
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • loss of energy or fatigue
  • disinterest in activities and hobbies that they once enjoyed
  • experiencing and feeling guilt, shame, inadequacy or worthlessness
  • severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • inability to think clearly and make decisions
  • irritation and anger
  • morbid thoughts of death or suicide or both
  • thoughts about harming the baby

Mother’s depression can affect the infant

According to a 2016 research by the Massachusetts General Hospital, PPD often prevents proper synchrony between an infant’s behaviors and the mother’s responses and this may have a negative impact on the child’s learning abilities.

While studying the consequences of maternal depression, a paper by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs found that children are adversely affected and their development is undermined if they had mothers or caregivers who suffered from maternal depression.

Some of the factors that can increase the risk of depression prior or after delivery are:

  • stress
  • lesser social support
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • birthing twins or triplets
  • losing a child
  • being a teen mom
  • premature labor and delivery (before 37 weeks)
  • having a baby with a birth defect or disability
  • birth complications
  • having a baby who has been hospitalized

Road to recovery

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth every year are diagnosed with postpartum depression symptoms. Developing depression or anxiety during pregnancy is common, but if the depression persists, then it would be wise not to wait it out. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are not permanent and they can be treated with professional help. Psychotherapy and antidepressants have also shown success in treating these types of disorders.

If you or a someone close to you is suffering from depression arising from childbirth, it is important to seek help. Contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to find the best evidence-based treatment plans suiting your needs. You can call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 427-5668 to connect to the best depression treatment centers in Colorado. You can also chat with our medical advisors for further information about the best depression treatment in Colorado.

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