Postnatal depression is a complicated mix of emotional, physical and behavioral changes that happen in the woman’s life after the childbirth.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, volume 4, postnatal depression is a severe form of depression that occurs in the fourth week after the child’s birth. The process of diagnosis involves not only the temporary frame of symptoms of the disease, but also its stage of complexity.
What is postnatal depression?
This form of depression is linked to the chemical, social and psychological changes in the woman’s life after the childbirth. The term characterizes the emotional and physical changes the new mom passes through. Fortunately, as other form of depression, postnatal depression can be cured with medication and therapy.
The chemical changes in the organism are caused by the quick variation of hormones after birth; although, scientists haven’t found yet an explanation to the link between hormones and depression. The one thing that is known is that during pregnancy the level of female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, multiplies by ten. And immediately after delivery, this level is dramatically reduced. Three days after giving birth, the level of these hormones is back to the level it was before pregnancy.
Along with hormonal changes, the social and psychological modifications that result from the birth of the child also influence the risk of depression.
What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
The symptoms are similar to those events that usually happen after the delivery. For example, lack of sleep, changes in appetite, fatigue, reduced sex drive, and frequent changes of mood. However, in postnatal depression, these symptoms are accompanied by symptoms of severe depression: depressive mood, impossibility to enjoy life, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and helplessness, thoughts of death or suicide.
What factors increase the risk of postnatal depression?
- Depression episodes during pregnancy
- Age of pregnancy – the earlier you got pregnant, the greater the risk
- Contradictory attitude forward pregnancy
- The more children you have, the higher the risk of depression with each next pregnancy
- Previous episodes of depression or premenstrual syndrome
- Lack of support from the society
- Conflicts in the family
Who is most at risk of postnatal depression?
The majority of new moms in the first few days after delivery suffer from melancholy. The condition of every tenth will develop in a more serious form of depression and will last longer. One woman out of a thousand falls ill of a more serious form of depression – postnatal psychosis.
Are there other types of postnatal depression?
There are three types of mood disorder that occur after birth:
– Postnatal melancholy
Postnatal melancholy is a condition that every woman experiences after the birth of a child, and it is considered a normal reaction to the changes in life. The young mom’s mood changes abruptly and often. The woman cries frequently and without reason, as well as becomes irritable, intolerant, and restless, excited and feels lonely and sad. Postnatal depression can last a few hours or several weeks. This condition usually does not require treatment. In most cases, when a young mother begins to chat with other moms, the melancholy goes away.
– Postnatal depression
Postnatal depression can manifest itself in a few weeks or even months after the birth of a child, not necessarily the first child. The woman feels the same symptoms as with melancholy – sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability, but they are more strong than with postnatal spleen. In the period of postnatal depression, the woman cannot perform her daily duties. If the woman is unable to perform her functions, she should seek help from a doctor. If you leave this illness without proper treatment, it can be complicated and last more than two years. Do not forget that despite the complexity of the disease, with the right approach it can be cured.
– Postnatal psychosis
Postnatal psychosis is a serious mental disorder that affects young mothers. The disease appears suddenly and quickly, during the first three months after birth. The woman loses the ability to distinguish the fictional from the real world, she has sound hallucinations (she hears voices or sounds that do not exist) and delusions (she believes in the rightness of irrational things). The visual hallucinations are rare. Other symptoms include insomnia (inability to sleep), excited state (unbalance), anger and manifestation of strange and unusual behavior. When developing symptoms of postnatal psychosis you should immediately consult a physician to receive quality treatment. Sometimes the ill woman is in need of hospitalization, because there is a risk of injury to herself or other people.
Can the anxiety syndrome worsen because of the postnatal depression?
There is a possibility of occurrence or aggravation of postnatal anxiety syndrome. Basically, the problem with this obsession is closely connected with the over guardianship over the child and fear to cause him harm. Also, during this period, the panic disorder can develop. Both of these disorders usually occur along with depression.
How is it possible to prevent postnatal depression?
- Ask for help – let other people help you
- Evaluate what you expect from yourself and the child
- Sports; take a few minutes to walk and rest
- Follow a good diet, avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Nurture your relationship with your husband – find time to be together alone
- Stay in touch with family and friends – do not isolate yourself from the world
- Limit the number of visitors in the first few days after coming home from the hospital
- Sleep or relax together with your child
How to treat postnatal depression?
Depending on the type and complexity, postnatal depression can be treated differently. The methods of treatment consist of prescribing sedatives and antidepressants, psychotherapy and support groups for emotional support and training.
In the case of postnatal psychosis in addition there are prescribed medicines used to treat psychosis. In most cases, hospitalization is also required.
If you are breast-feeding, don’t think that you can’t take medicines for depression, anxiety syndrome or psychosis. Many women take antidepressants under the supervision of a physician. Such a decision should only be adopted in conjunction with the doctor.
When the young mother should seek help?
Once the following signs occurred:
- The manifestation of disease’s symptoms for more than two weeks
- The new mom loses her ability to function properly
- She can’t cope with the daily challenges and events
- She had thoughts of harming herself or the child
- She feels anxiety, fear and panic most of the day.