Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Post-Partum Depression
Postpartum depression is a feeling of extreme sadness and psychological disturbance which occurs during the first few weeks or months after childbirth. The causes of sadness and depression after delivery is unclear but depression or any other psychological disorder present before or during pregnancy may be a contributing factor. A family history of depression may also be a cause. Sometimes, physical changes such as change in hormonal levels and the stress of having to take care of a newborn may be a cause for this disorder. Bearing a child can cause fatigue, loss of freedom, feelings of isolation and incompetency. Marital discord, lack of social support and other life stressors such as financial difficulties may contribute to the emotional disturbance.
The most common symptoms of post-partum depression are frequent crying, irritability and mood swings. Feelings of extreme sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, fatigue, change in appetite, loss of interest and feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness are other prevalent symptoms. Post-partum depression may last for months or years without treatment and this may cause long term distress as women may be unable to bond with the newborn and disrupt marital relationships. This may cause problems for the child who may develop emotional, social or cognitive problems later in life.
Early diagnosis for post-partum depression is very important for both the woman and the baby. If women continue to feel sad or depressed, it is vital that they talk to their doctor about their emotions and feelings and if needed they should consult a mental health professional to seek help. This is treatable and is treated the same way as depression. It is important to get extra support for oneself and for the baby. It is important for one to understand that it is important to get better for oneself and for the baby. One should not bottle up their emotions instead one should talk to people close to them. One should not blame oneself for feelings these symptoms, as it is very common and can affect anyone anywhere. Most mothers feel incompetent and feel that they are poor or bad mothers. Some also fear that if they talk about this then their baby might be taken away from them. This is not true. Instead, treatment and seeking support will help the person deal well with the stress of motherhood.
Various treatment options are available for women with post-partum depression. A combination of anti-depressant medications and counseling sessions provide the best possible support. In some severe cases, if post-partum psychosis occurs, which is, depression combined with suicidal thought, violent feelings, hallucinations or bizarre behavior; hospitalization may be required. In such cases, the psychiatric help provided makes available a supervised unit where the baby is also allowed to remain with the mother. Antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants are both prescribed by the mental health professional. A consultation with the doctor will determine whether mothers can breastfeed the newborn as some drugs may be harmful for the child.
Having a baby can be stressful irrespective of how much a mother has looked forward to it or how much she loves the child. Baby blues are perfectly normal and can be treated with appropriate and timely care, medications, counseling and social support. With such help, one can get back successfully on the road to a happy motherhood and lead a happy stress free life.