December 11, 2017

Postnatal Depression – Top 10 Facts Every Mom Must Know

Postnatal depression, also called postpartum depression, is a depression that occurs in the mother after the birth of the baby. Usually the symptoms of postnatal depression will begin to show within the first 3 months after the baby is born but there is no one size fits all time for it to begin. It has been known to manifest itself even up to a year after the child is born.

Postnatal depression is moderate to severe in nature and should not be confused with what is commonly called the baby blues. The baby blues usually start about 72 hours after delivery and only last for a few days. These feelings of sadness and tearfulness are the result of the sudden change in hormone levels a woman experiences after giving birth.

Conversely, postpartum depression is usually more severe and lasts for longer than two weeks. Between 10-15% of all women suffer from it.

Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

While postpartum depression disorder shares many of the same symptoms of depression with non-postpartum depression such as:

 

  • Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness and/or low mood
  • Feeling overwhelmed and/or unconnected
  • Lack of energy and interest in activities that normally bring pleasure
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Lack of concentration and/or memory issues
  • Mood changes including irritability and feelings of anxiety

There are some symptoms that are specific to postpartum depression, most notably:

 

  • Negative feelings toward the baby
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Fear of being alone with the baby
  • Lack of interest in the baby

If you experience any of these signs of depression even months after childbirth it is important for both yourself and your baby that you contact your doctor or medical health care provider immediately! 

The seriousness of this disorder cannot be overstated. This disorder can grow more severe if treatment is not sought. Lack of treatment can also affect the bonding you do with your baby and that your baby needs.

Who is Most at Risk for Postnatal Depression

Although postnatal depression can happen to any woman the risks for depression increases based on certain factors.

Some of the major risk factors of postnatal depression include:

 

  • History of depression or bipolar disorder including having had postnatal depression with an earlier child
  • Feeding with formula instead of breastfeeding the baby
  • Suffered from prenatal depression during pregnancy
  • Younger than 20 years of age
  • Lower socio-economic class
  • Cigarette smoker
  • Lack of support from family or friends
  • Single
  • Stressful life event either during pregnancy or after childbirth such as death of a loved one, work stress, relationship or financial worries

Again, a woman may suffer from postnatal depression even if she does not have any of these major risk factors.

Postpartum depression can affect a mother of any age, social and economic class. For example, there is a long list of well-known celebrities who have suffered from postnatal depression. Some celebrities on that list include Courtney Cox, Brooke Shields, Elle Macpherson, Lisa Renna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amanda Peet, and Marie Osmond.

Postnatal Depression Treatment

If you think you may have postnatal depression it is VERY IMPORTANTthat you seek treatment immediately for both yourself and the sake of your baby. The faster you get treatment the better the prognosis is and the less effects the depression will have on your baby and your mother child relationship. It will also increase the chances of a better bonding experience with your baby.

There is no one size fits all cure for postpartum depression. Each woman will have a specific treatment plan that suits her individual needs and circumstance. Following are the most commonly used treatment options:

 

  • Psychotherapy – either one on one with a therapist or in a new mother support group
  • Medication – if breast feeding this option should be discussed with doctor or medical health care provider to determine if this is a good option
  • Nutrition change – improved diet that encourages healthy eating of certain foods such as those high in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein as well as certain vitamins
  • Childcare Assistance via increased home support and visitors

While these are the main treatment options there are other treatments that may work for a new mother’s individual circumstance better. It is important that with the help of your doctor you choose the best option for you and your baby.

Postpartum depression should be taken very seriously. If you or a loved one experiences depression after childbirth do not be afraid to get professional help. The sooner help is sought, the sooner treatment can begin. Successfully treating postnatal depression IS possible!

 

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