Educating New Moms & Dads about Postpartum Depression may save their life

Postpartum Depression (PPD): Causes, Treatment and everything you need to be aware about (with Infographic)

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What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is also known as Postnatal Depression, Post Delivery Depression and New Mom Depression.

New mom depression is an emotional health condition and serious mental status related to the mood disorder to the new mothers just after the child birth. 

Mood disorder may results in anxiety, depression and sadness on severe level. Women suffering with PPD found herself unable to take care of her child and herself as well.

Postpartum depression (PPD) info graphic
Postpartum depression (PPD) info graphic

Read also: Depression or Sadness? Are you just “feeling sad” or “depressed”?

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:

Generally, symptoms of PPD are related to disturbed mental status but it affects overall quality of life as well. Read the study here.

Mental symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Unable to focus
  • Lack of decisions making
  • Feeling low confidence
  • Unable to take care of baby
  • Trouble memorizing the things
  • Fear of failure

Physical symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Disturbance in hunger
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Restlessness
  • Morning sickness and fatigue
  • Body pain
  • Lack of energy
  • Stomach cramps

Behavioural symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Lack of interest with her partner
  • Loneliness
  • Unable to trust friends and relatives
  • Fear of harm for her baby
  • Unwilling to care for the baby out of fear of harming him or her
  • Panic attacks
  • Bipolar mood disorder

Types of PPD:

  1. Baby blues (Postpartum Blues)
  2. Postpartum Anxiety
  3. Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  4. Panic Depression (Postpartum Panic Disorder)
  5. Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  6. Postpartum Psychosis

1. Postpartum Blues (Baby Blues):

In starting a mother may have short term post partum depression which is generally known as baby blues.

Baby blues is most common and occurs in 75-80% of new mothers. The “Baby Blues” is a state of mild depression combined with happier feelings, or as some women state, it is “an emotional roller-coaster.”

Onset of baby blues is usually 2-3 days after child birth and have a peak around 7-10 days. Postpartum blues is the most common puerperal mood disturbance.

General Symptoms of “Baby Blues” include:

  • Anxiousness
  • Sadness and Crying
  • Feeling Irritated
  • Restlessness
  • Tiredness

Sometimes, these symptoms do not disappear but, worsen in coming three to four weeks of following pregnancy. 

Emotional symptoms of baby blues:

  • Illogical and uncontrollable crying
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Feeling helplessness and alone
  • Often mood swings
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Getting anger and rage
  • Easily frustrated
  • Feeling guilt and shame

2. Postpartum Psychosis:

As per data postpartum psychosis occurs in 1-2 women per 1,000 births. Onset of postpartum psychosis is usually occurs within the first two weeks to three months after delivery.

Postpartum psychosis symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations of imaginary things around her
  • Getting delusional with suspicious or irrational beliefs
  • Exhibiting extremely violent behaviour
  • Confused and unable to take decision
  • Obsessed with her baby
  • Showing completely different behaviours
  • Extreme and quick mood swings
  • Eating and sleeping difficulty
  • Prone to take self-harming actions
  • Suicidal thoughts and try to attempt the same
  • Thoughts of harming or killing her baby

3. Postpartum Anxiety:

Mother feels mood swings with anxious behaviour. A mother may suffer with continuous worries and tension during postpartum anxiety.

Symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

  • Fears and worries
  • Restlessness
  • Stress

4. Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

OCD affects around 3% to 5% of new mothers. A new mother feels very obsessed with random thoughts.

If Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder gets worsen then A thought of self harm and killing the baby may also come into the mind of new mother.

5. Postpartum Panic Disorder:

This is severe level of PPD occurs in around 1 % of women. A women may suffer with repeted panic attacks and feels shortness of breath, increased heart rate, angina pain etc.

6. Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

8 to 9% of new mother suffers with PTSD. A mother perceived threat to mother or her baby. This traumatic situation occurs during childbirth in different scenarios like any birth complications, unplanned operative procedure etc.

Diagnosis of Postpartum Disorder:

PPD in a mother can be diagnosed by a health care professional with the help of below methods:

  • Assessing the all type of signs and symptoms
  • Interviewing the affected mother
  • Psychological screenings
  • Other factors like medical conditions or physical ailments

To achieve a accurate diagnosis this is important to distinguish among different types of PPD. Sometimes it is a bit difficult and confusing. Every type of PPD requires different treatment style and process including tests. It depends upon risk factors, patient’s condition and other elements.

Causes of PPD:

Physical cause of PPD:

After child birth many physical changes occurs in the body of a mother. This included body shape, skin quality, sutures in case of operation, sleep imbalance and many more things. Drastic change in the hormone levels just after child birth is also supposed to be the main cause of PPD.

Emotional cause of PPD:

Estrogen and progesterone levels decrease suddenly which triggers emotional behaviour. A new mother may feel emotionally low or mood swings.

Risk Factors for PPD:

  1. Emotional Risk Factors
  2. Medical History Risk Factors
  3. Genetic Risk Factors
  4. Other Risk Factors: This include-
  • unplanned pregnancy
  • Early age pregnancy
  • Single mother
  • Family resistance
  • Sometimes gender of the new innocent child

Does PPD affect a marriage?

Any type of depression can affect people surrounding the patient. The most affected person is the husband or new father of the baby. Depression causes tension and stress in a relationship. If the situation gets worsen then the couple needs counselling and correct treatment.

Postnatal Depression Treatment:

Considering various risk factors mentioned above the treatment should be planned.

Self care for new mother:

A health care professional like psychiatrist or psychologist can treat these types of cases. But, our aim is to write this article is giving you an idea about the things which can be done by you. Certainly, If you or any of your friend or relative suffers from PPD then they should take care below things-

  1. Should be on a healthy diet
  2. Should get proper sleep
  3. Avoid alcohol, cigarette or other addictive substances
  4. Take time for meditation and walk
  5. Try to be happy and stress free

Postpartum Depression Counselling:

A health care professional may start a suitable therapy according to the type of the depression.

Postpartum Depression Counselling may include different counselling session, some activities, mental exercise, building some habits and many other things like that.

Postpartum Depression Medication:

Yes, medicines can also be used to treat PPD. Mostly antidepressant medicines are used to treat this condition. Medication classification, dose and duration can depend upon the severity, medical condition and previous history of the mother.

Antidepressant used to stabilize the mood of the patient.  Anti-psychotic drugs can also be used for psychotic PPD. These medicines change the concentration of different chemicals which regulates the mood. Serotonin is one of the main neuro transmitters responsible for mood change.

Similarly, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-Nor epinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are few example of drug classification which may be used to treat PPD.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

This therapy is widely used. During the discussion with the patient the therapist tries to know the thought process of the patient. According to the signals the treatment proceeds.

Prevention of PPD:

Precaution is always better than cure. You should be aware that if you had any episode of depression anytime in your life. If yes then you should inform this to your doctor since starting of our pregnancy.

Precaution for PPD can be taken in below situation:

While pregnancy is ongoing:

If your doctor is informed about your depressive state then they can go through depression screening. According to the result of your screening your doctor will take further steps. Your doctor may schedule counselling or therapy session during pregnancy. If required, medications may also be started.

After childbirth:

A mother may experience instant effect of drastic hormonal changes. This may result in mood swings. This can get worse if not treated properly. Depression after childbirth may last for few weeks to few months. Treatment will be required accordingly.

Does Postpartum Depression affect fathers as well?

Yes, this is surprising that a new father also suffers the PPD.

According to a study, during the time from 1993 to 2007, approximately 4% of fathers experience postpartum depression in the first year after their child’s birth. About 1 out of 5 fathers will have experienced one or more episodes of depression by a child’s 12th birthday.

Postpartum Depression Recovery:

In conclusion, Few important things must be considered while recovery from depression.

1. Don’t Compare Yourself with previous you:

Remembering your previous version always may gives you stress because after delivery or during pregnancy you loos your body shape. But, you should also aware that you can definitely get back your body shape. This might take time but it’s not impossible.

2. Develop good habits:

Good habits keep you busy with interested things. In addition, This gives you positive feeling and helps you recover soon.

3. Involve with your friends and family:

Sharing your thoughts with your loved ones always helps you to get rid of depression. Support from family and friends are much needed to recover fast from depression.

4. Follow your treatment gently:

Your treatment will work when followed properly. Any missed medication or session may result in delayed recovery.

5. Meditate and relax:

Depending only on medication may not help you every time. So, be relaxed and practice meditation because this will give you peace. Therefore, Your brain responds positively when relaxed.

Important facts about PPD:

  1. 10-20% of postpartum women will experience PPD.
  2. Onset of PPD can be anytime during the first year after delivery, with the highest incidence of onset between 4 and 8 weeks postpartum.
  3. PPD may last from 3 to 14 months or longer, if left untreated.
  4. Postpartum depression rates in Asian countries could be at 65% or more among new mothers.
  5. Approximately, 10% of new fathers experience symptoms of depression during the postpartum period.
  6. 50 % of men who have partners with postpartum depression will go on to develop depression themselves. Read here.
  7. Around 10% cases of mother suffering with postpartum psychosis result in suicide or infanticide.

Read here in detail.

I tried to provide all the information in detail, however you may interested to know more about it. If so, please comment and let us know. Share this article with your loved one because knowledge of postpartum depression may educate people and make their life easier.

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Vinay Dubey

A Health care professional and Pharmacologist with an aim of sharing my knowledge about health and lifestyle to everyone. Specially, I want to empower people from non medical background, with the knowledge that how daily lifestyle and medicines can affects their health. Also, to let them know how they can play an important role in the life cycle of a medicine.

2 Comments

  1. Best written
    Depression is due to suppression of emotions too for a longer period of time ,
    Also it is may be due to handling stressful conditions during life, inappropriate emotions and mental health specially thoughts are some of the blaming factors for it .

  2. Best written

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