Did you recently become a mom? Are you aware that labor may bring more than just a happy addition to a family? Childbearing creates biological and physiological changes that may cause depression.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as much as one out of five women suffer from postpartum depression symptoms.
The post will help you learn how to recognize when persistent sadness might be a sign of a more serious condition, such as postpartum depression. We will review postpartum depression risk factors, symptoms, risks untreated PPD, screening tools and what you can do next.
Postpartum Depression Risk Factors
Even though postpartum depression causes are poorly researched and poorly understood, but scientists uncovered certain life events that serve as risk factors, increasing the probability of the illness:
- Previous history of depression or family history of depression
- Difficulty getting pregnant (Credit: Mayo Clinic)
- Stressful life event: job loss, domestic violence, death in the family, or personal illness
- Complicated labor: premature labor, multiples, a baby with medical issues)
- Mixed feelings about the pregnancy (planned or unplanned)
- Social isolation, lacking emotional support from her spouse, partner, family, or friends
- Alcohol or other drug abuse problems (Credit: National Institute of Mental Health)
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Please keep in mind, sometimes the only person who will notice something is wrong is your friend, parent or your spouse. Symptoms of PPD may include any of the following:
- Sadness that does not go away within two weeks after birth
- Severe mood swings, irritability, anger, excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy (I am not a good mom)
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Restlessness, severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, suicide thoughts (Credit: Mayo Clinic)
Risks of Untreated Postpartum Depression
According to Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Mental Health PPD carries the following risks:
- Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for years
- PPD affects your health, and your ability to connect with and care for the baby.
- It may cause sleeping, eating, and behavioral issues for the baby
One of the most common screening tools for PPD is the Edinburgh Depression Scale. If you wonder whether you may have postpartum depression use the link below to find out your score.
What To Do Next
Consider making an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as you can and discuss the results of your Edinburg Scale Test. If you don`t feel like seeing your doctor, talk to your spouse, a friend, church pastor or anyone else you trust.
Seek professional help if you have the following symptoms:
- Sadness and symptoms don’t fade after two weeks. You are getting worse.
- It is hard for you to care for your baby and to complete everyday tasks
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby Call National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (Credit: Mayo Clinic)
Diagnosis. I started developing symptoms soon after the birth of my daughter but was diagnosed by a doctor with postpartum depression almost two years later. I denied the diagnosis. My spouse and I did not know what diagnosis meant or what to do.
Symptoms. My family also was skeptical. They did not believe that a young, active, vibrant, driven woman I used to be was gone. I was a big pile of mess. I had insomnia, crying spells, anxiety and many fears about the baby.
Causes. What bothered me most is doctors could not explain what caused my condition. Eventually, I figured out that my post-delivery hormone changes, brain chemistry, B vitamin malabsorption, immigration, lack of sleep, and social isolation were to blame.
Treatment. Some people were saying I should just snap out of it. I tried many times, and It did not work! My doctor recommended meds and therapy. I try antidepressants for a very short time, but the side effects were awful. Another concern about meds was the impact on my daughter’s health since I still was nursing. I also explored therapy but could not find a good counselor I could trust. Eventually, my symptoms faded away, but my illness returned after the birth of my second and third child. It took me almost ten years to figure out how to regulate my mood and brain functions naturally.
Postpartum is a devastating, common and treatable condition affecting millions of women worldwide. You can make a difference by knowing facts, understanding its symptoms and supporting women to get the help they need.
P.S. In the next post I will share Five Steps to a Improve Your Mood Naturally that worked for me.
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