What You Need to Know About Post-Partum Depression
Usually, mothers experience a fluctuation of hormones after birth that sends them into a rollercoaster of emotions for the first few days. They are particularly weepy and irritable, a phenomenon that has been named Baby Blues. This, however, is only supposed to last a few days up to two weeks. If it persists, it is termed as postpartum depression and requires immediate therapy. If left unchecked it may interfere severely with the mother’s emotional health and also affect the mother-baby bonding process.
SYMPTOMS OF POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION
The most common sign is mood swings. In the case of baby blues, these only last a few days as the hormones fluctuate and eventually return to their normal status, but in the case of depression, they persist for weeks and even months. The mother switches randomly between a variety of moods; she can be overjoyed one second and cry hysterically in the next.
The mother may also experience some difficulty bonding with her baby or anyone around her. One can notice that she is withdrawn and seems to be absent-minded in the presence of other people, even close family such as her partner.
In most cases, the mother struggles with insomnia and cannot sleep as she struggles with her stress while taking care of the baby. This partly contributes to depression.
A conversation can reveal feelings of hopelessness and even doubt in her ability to be a good mother. She may also have bouts of fury and may always seem to be irritable.
Other symptoms include overeating or lack of appetite, extreme exhaustion and fatigue, lack of interest and pleasure in activities she used to enjoy before, restlessness, anxiety, poor concentration and decision-making abilities, and in the extreme, thoughts of harming herself or the baby.
Hormonal fluctuations after birth contribute significantly to postpartum depression. It may also be accelerated considerably by lack of quality sleep which is common amongst mothers as they try hard to take care of their babies through the night. There are also risk factors that may make the situation worse. They include:
- A history of depression or more specifically, post-partum depression
- A mental condition or bipolar disorder
- Stressful events such as complications during pregnancy or even a loss of a job
- The baby has health problems, disorders and conditions that require special attention
- Problems with close people such as the partner or family. It is not uncommon for women to go into post-partum depression when their partners or family members don’t support them.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
It would be helpful to have close people by your side through and after pregnancy. Assurance that they will be there when you need them really helps. During pregnancy (and after), the doctor can diagnose you and assess your symptoms for any signs of depression. If they are found they can easily be combated by support groups, counselling, therapy and even with the help of anti-depressants.
Remember that as the mother of your baby, you need to be strong for them no matter what comes your way. Get all the support you need and take each day as it comes.