The fatigue and emotional roller coaster a woman experiences during her pregnancy can all be forgotten once a mother holds her newborn in her arms. The feeling of seeing the child that you’ve carried in your womb for nine months is powerful enough to make you forget all the sleepless nights and pain.
However, between the jumble of powerful emotions that a mother feels as she gives birth, anxiety and depression can also take place. It is quite common for a woman to experience the “baby blues”, feeling anxious, depressed, empty and emotionless.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of emotional, physical and behavioral changes that a woman experiences upon giving birth.
With all the emotional changes that the body experiences during and after pregnancy, it is common to develop feelings of rejection of one’s own baby; this condition is called postpartum depression.
According to OASH(Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health), 1 in 9 women has experienced postpartum depression. It is a serious mental illness that can last more than two weeks. The experience tends to be severely difficult for women, as the illness involves the brain which in turn affects physical health and behavior.
Postpartum depression can worsen as the mother feels extremely guilty while struggling to connect with her baby, or even failing to form any emotional bond with them.
The diagnosis of PPD is based on the length and the severity of depression. It is important to be aware of this condition, and any mother who struggles with this illness should seek psychological or medical help.
What causes postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is the result of chemical, psychological and social changes that occur after giving birth.
The sudden drop of the hormonal level in estrogen and progesterone can create serious mental and physical distress. While pregnant, the hormonal level is at its highest, which then drops 24 hours after giving birth and goes back to its pre-pregnancy level.
Besides the hormonal changes, the new lifestyle that a woman experiences can also contribute to the development of PPD. Having a newborn comes with new responsibilities, sleep deprivation, physical and emotional tiredness, and even stress. The thought of having a human being totally depending on you can be really exhausting and draining, which often leads to PPD.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Giving birth is not easy, and it causes a myriad of emotions and changes, and it is totally normal for a mother to feel overwhelmed when her baby is finally born. However, it is crucial to seek medical help if one of these symptoms appears:
- Feeling sad, helpless or hopeless.
- Feeling extremely moody.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Having eating disorders.
- Having sleep disorders.
- Having low to no energy.
- Having thoughts of hurting the baby.
- Having thoughts of self-harm.
- Having no interest in the baby, or feeling as if the baby is not yours.
- Being unable to concentrate or make decisions.
- Experiencing constant pain and aches, especially stomach aches.
- Experiencing anger management issues.
- Losing interest in your previous lifestyle, and withdrawing from friends and family.
- Constant crying.
How to treat postpartum depression?
Just like any other illness, PPD can be treated.
Seeking therapy can help with the healing process. Talking to your doctor about your feelings can alleviate the emotional burden you’re experiencing. The psychologist or therapist can guide you through the strategies and techniques that would eventually treat your condition.
Besides therapy, some medications are often prescribed by the doctor or the nurse that can help with postpartum depression. The most common type of medicine to be used in this case is antidepressants. They can relieve the tension and help you get back to normal. However, not all antidepressants are safe for use while breastfeeding. For that reason the medical advice is highly recommended.
Remember to be kind to yourself !
Postpartum depression is a common medical condition; it does not define who you are or how good of a mother you will be. With the right treatment, you will form that special bond with your child and become the mother you have always wanted to become.
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