Postpartum Depression – Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

What is Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects some women shortly after giving birth. It is common for women to experience temporary mood disorders or melancholy after giving birth. However, if the disorder lasts more than a few days, it is called postpartum depression.

Causes of Postpartum Depression

The cause of postpartum depression is unclear. The cause may be related to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery. Untreated thyroid conditions may also be associated with postpartum depression.

Risk factors of Postpartum Depression

The following factors increase the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following risk factors:

  1. Previous episode of depression or postpartum depression
  2. Relatives with depression
  3. History of severe premenstrual syndrome
  4. Lack of support and / or tense relationship with the couple
  5. History of anxiety disorder

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Symptoms usually manifest within 6 months after delivery, although they may begin during pregnancy and last from a few weeks to a few months. Symptoms can range from mild depression to severe psychosis (in very rare cases). Postpartum depression is different from what is known as “nostalgia for the baby,” a type of moderate depression that occurs a few days after delivery and lasts up to a week.

Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Episodes of crying or sadness
  • Little concentration, loss of memory, difficulty in making decisions
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Irritability, anxiety or panic
  • Restlessness
  • Fear of hurting or killing the child or herself
  • Feelings of despair or guilt
  • Obsessive thoughts, especially irrational, recurrent fears about the child’s health and care
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Loss or weight gain without explanation

Among the most serious symptoms associated with postpartum depression that may require medical attention are:

  • Lack of interest in your child
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations or illusions
  • Loss of contact with reality
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Diagnosis of Postpartum Depression

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination. Your doctor may perform blood tests to see if any undiagnosed physical problems (such as a thyroid condition) may be causing the symptoms. You can be referred to a mental health professional.

Treatment of Postpartum Depression

Treatment for postpartum depression may include therapy, medications, or both.

  • Medications may include:
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiolytic drugs
  • Antipsychotic medications (for severe cases)

Consult your doctor about the potential side effects of the medication and how they can affect the health of your baby while breastfeeding.

Support groups for mothers who suffer from postpartum depression can help you get in touch with other people who struggle with depression and succeed.

Prevention of Postpartum Depression

Because postpartum depression is aggravated by stress, after childbirth you should minimize stressful activities. The following can help you prevent postpartum depression:

Before delivery

  • Education classes on the delivery
  • Realistic expectations about the postpartum experience

After delivery

  • Help for child care and household chores
  • Rest enough
  • Some women feel better when the number of visitors is limited; others feel isolated without company and recognize that they feel better when they have other people around them
  • Help that allows you to have your own time to enjoy (eg, go for a walk)
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