What is postpartum depression?

About 20% of mothers suffer from postpartum depression within a month of the birth of the baby.

The birth of a child is a huge stress for the mother’s body

Postpartum depression is a mental health change that occurs a week or a month after giving birth.

What causes depression?

It is not possible to single out any single cause for this condition. It is characterized by a combination of various factors. It is believed that changes in hormones, neurotransmitters, and psychological awareness of changing roles in society in the compartment play a major role in the development of depression.

The risk of postpartum depression is higher in women with a family of people already suffering from some form of mental disorder (depression, manic-depressive psychosis, increased anxiety, etc.).

However, the condition is not inevitable. With the proper help of trained medical personnel, it is possible to avoid its development or to level symptoms as much as possible.

What role do hormones play?

Excessive emotional and physical stress (such as childbirth and pregnancy) can lead to impaired hormonal regulation.

As pregnancy progresses, estrogen and progesterone levels increase. After childbirth, their number drops sharply, which may cause various changes in the body, including and mental sphere. In women, mood swings begin, and possibly the development of the already mentioned depression and anxiety (similar symptoms are visible during menopause).

Can men suffer from postpartum depression?

Yes they can. From 4 to 10% of men, according to various sources, suffer from depression during the first year of a child’s life. What is also associated with a new stressful life experience for the father.

What is postpartum psychosis?

This is an extremely rare condition found in 1x per 1000 births. At the same time, mothers may experience delusions, hallucinations, and mood swings (from suicide attempts to feelings of happiness within a few hours or minutes). Most often, this condition is a predictor of subsequent schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive psychosis).

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

Symptoms vary from mother to mother, but there are a number of manifestations that occur more often than others:

  •                    Irritability and anger
  •                    Anxiety
  •                    Mood swings
  •                    Sleep problems, insomnia
  •                    Changes in appetite, refusal of food
  •                    Loss of interest in the baby, in life
  •                    Constant weakness, lethargy
  •                    Thoughts on hurting or getting rid of a newborn
  •                    Feeling of disaster, shame, guilt
  •                    Frightening or strange thoughts that are difficult to get rid of

These symptoms do not fit into the picture of classical depression and have elements of schizophrenia (last 3). If these elements are present, then there is a risk of schizophrenia in the future.

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A woman’s fatigue after childbirth and the associated bad mood are called postpartum depression. In fact, postpartum (postnatal) depression is a form of mental disorder that requires treatment. Psychotherapist Vera Yakupova lists ten signs of postpartum depression.

Specialists distinguish three conditions: baby blues, postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis.

Baby blues is a temporary decrease in mood immediately after childbirth against the background of hormonal changes. It occurs in 70–80% of women in labor. It is characterized by a feeling of sadness, longing, emotional instability, mood swings. It does not require treatment, passes on its own within a few weeks.

Postpartum depression is a more serious condition that occurs in 10-15% of women in labor. Although depression does not happen to everyone, she can make her debut immediately after the birth of the baby, and six months later. Women have a risk of postpartum depression, regardless of the number of children. Those who survive postpartum depression after the first birth and do not receive therapy are at great risk of experiencing it with a second child. 

Postpartum psychosis is a serious psychiatric diagnosis that occurs in 1% of women and is stopped only with medication. It is characterized by sleep disturbance, inappropriate behavior, motor and speech disinhibition, and sometimes hallucinations. Often, psychosis is associated with a psychiatric history, as hormonal changes can enhance the symptoms of a mental illness. 

The main signs of postpartum depression

  1. Complaints of sleep disturbance, inability to fall asleep, even when no one bothers. Insomnia is an important sign of a postpartum depression.
  2.                 A tired person can replenish his resources with rest. Resting does not help a woman in postpartum depression. 
  3.                 Lack of appetite, loss of interest in food, loss of taste of food – one of the signs of a pathological condition. 
  4.                 If a woman is not happy, does not give pleasure and a burst of energy even that which usually raised her mood, for example, a favorite dish or hobby, talking with friends, then this condition is called anhedonia. Anhedonia is a sign of postpartum depression. 
  5.                 A sense of hopelessness – “there is nothing good ahead”, longing, sadness, frequent tears.
  6.                 Constant and unreasonable guilt for any reason, intense anxiety corroding from the inside. Thoughts that the child would be better off with other people.
  7.                 Slow motion, loss of general tone, decreased cognitive activity, “fog” in the head.
  8.                  It is difficult to make even minor decisions and do routine tasks: wash in the morning, get dressed, go for a walk with a stroller.  
  9.                 Fear of being alone with a newborn baby, fear of harming him or not managing his care.
  10.             Suicidal thoughts and intentions. Perception of death as a way out of the situation and getting rid of torment.

How to recognize that you are in danger

Pay attention to such signs:

  •                    sleep less than six hours a day for a long time;
  •                    complicated pregnancy, serious somatic problems before and after childbirth;
  •                    physiologically traumatic birth;
  •                    psychologically difficult birth, that is, those accompanied by obstetric aggression and severe stress, fear for the child; 
  •                    high expectations from the mother in modern society. A whole gamut of heavy feelings can unleash anxiety, guilt, thoughts of a “bad mother”;
  •                    the presence of depression in the past, sensitivity to hormonal changes;
  •                    personality traits: perfectionism, broken contact with your body, a tendency to hush up your own desires and needs;
  •                    cognitive features: the tendency to focus on the negative and “get stuck” in this state; cognitive rigidity, that is, the difficulties of switching, finding solutions and adapting to new living conditions;
  •                    experience of attachment to one’s own mother, difficult and conflicting relationships with her;
  •                    the attitude of others and loved ones, the degree of their trust and faith in a woman. Often assistants do a disservice. Instead of “how to help you,” they devalue a woman in childbirth with the words: “Look, everything is falling from your hands, what a misfortune you are.” Sometimes such “helpers” only provoke a sense of worthlessness, insecurity, and confusion;
  •                    difficulties in relations with the spouse, lack of his support.

How to help if your relative or girlfriend is depressed

Postpartum depression requires psychotherapeutic help, and sometimes pharmacotherapy. If help is not provided in a timely manner, postpartum depression can last for months and even years, transform into a chronic depressive state. 

If you know that a neighbor or girlfriend just gave birth, do not hesitate to ask about well-being and affairs. Ask how you can support and make life easier. There are short self-test tests that help you not to miss the symptoms. Information is one of the important things that will help a woman to not be depressed and find a way out. Informing helps not to delay the period of a woman’s torment and realize her decision to turn to a specialist before suicidal thoughts appear, that is, she can speed up getting help. 

Postpartum Depression: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Remedies

Postpartum depression often occurs after the birth of the baby. The birth of a child is a bright emotional outburst, but a positive can quickly acquire a complex coloring. Due to the processes occurring in the mother’s body, as well as the family environment, in 10-15% of cases there is postpartum depression. This is a serious and dangerous condition, accompanied by increasing dejection, capable of radically changing the woman’s life in a negative direction. Therefore, it is extremely important to recognize the pathological process as soon as possible and take comprehensive measures to overcome the crisis. 

Anxiety Risk Factors

Postpartum depression is a complex psychopathological condition characterized by a general negative mood of a woman, a sharp emotional lability and a decrease in attraction to a man and a child. Despite the study of the problem, the exact causes leading to the disease have not been established. The most well-known theory of monoamines, according to which the number of mediators of positive emotions of serotonin and melatonin in the body of a woman in labor, is reduced. However, the theory cannot explain all the processes occurring in the nervous system. However, the factors provoking postnatal disorder are quite clearly defined.

These include:

  •                    violence in family;
  •                    excessive influence of relatives on the woman;
  •                    initial organic damage to the nervous system;
  •                    genetic determination – the presence of any psychopathological diseases in close relatives;
  •                    late formation of ovulation after childbirth;
  •                    negative attitude from a man;
  •                    inability to cope with accrued obligations;
  •                    low self-esteem.

More than 60% of all cases of postnatal mood decline are associated with previous depressive episodes throughout life. In the early years, it could be suicide attempts due to unhappy love or oppressive feelings due to low school performance. Depression during pregnancy, especially after a 30-week period, often provokes the development of such episodes after childbirth.

Clinical manifestations of a disease state

According to WHO, symptoms of postpartum depression occur within 7 weeks after giving birth. If the manifestations of the disease occur later, then this disorder does not apply to postnatal. Classic signs of postpartum depression include:

  •                    a sharp change in mood with a tendency to decrease the emotional background;
  •                    tearfulness;
  •                    reduced performance;
  •                    apathy towards a child and a man;
  •                    decreased appetite or even a complete aversion to food;
  •                    pathological taste in the mouth;
  •                    somatic complaints of constant discomfort in any part of the body, often headaches or dyspepsia;
  •                    depressed facial expressions.

In some women, the appetite is not only preserved, but also sharply increased. Eating is becoming more frequent, and food addiction is bulimic. This is a kind of substitution – getting the missing pleasures from food.

This form of depression is most favorable, since the deficiency of monoamines is relatively quickly compensated. But in the future, it is possible to form a usual nervous disorder due to dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance.

Initial signs of the disease

It is always important to know how the problem manifests itself at the very beginning of its development. The first sign of a painful condition is not at all sharp mood swings. Often a subtle symptom is a harbinger of a complex disorder. For postnatal depression, glycogeusia is characteristic. This is a sweet-sugary taste in the mouth. It can occur already in the first days after the appearance of the child. The likelihood of developing full postpartum depression in this case is more than 90%.

Another subtle symptom leading to a pathological nervous breakdown, spotting vaginal discharge. Normal lochia is typical for women in labor, however, a small daily loss of blood negatively affects the emotional sphere. Together with family troubles associated with a clear reluctance of intimacy, there is a feeling of hopelessness and uselessness, and future prospects seem vague. Only family support and drug compensation for iron deficiency will help protect against depression.

Features of the course of the disease state

It is hard to say how long postnatal depression lasts. With rational help, the disease can be avoided, and the duration of the reduced mood background will be minimal. The diagnosis is officially considered established if signs of anxiety disorder persist for more than seven days. The following factors affect the duration of depression:

  •                    family relationships;
  •                    early psychocorrection;
  •                    woman and child health;
  •                    the presence of delusions;
  •                    the severity of the existing organic lesions of the nervous system; 
  •                    lactation.

With insufficient family support, lack of sexual intercourse, poor health of the baby, the level of “happy” hormones decreases sharply. This provokes a long duration of depression and even a transition to a chronic form. The existing organic pathology of the brain and the associated delirium become equally negative. In these cases, even suicide attempts are possible, which are usually not characteristic of postpartum depressive episodes.

Non-drug methods of dealing with the problem

It is necessary to deal with a depressive mood. The question of how to get rid of the disease on your own always arises sharply in any family, since it is initially difficult to make a decision about contacting a specialist. The main condition is improving the quality of life and improving the family microclimate. The following will help in getting rid of depression:

  •                    warm conversations with her husband;
  •                    informal communication with relatives and friends – meetings, joint walks, even collective viewing of series;
  •                    regular sexual intercourse that brings pleasure to both partners; folk methods – soothing herbs, contrast shower;
  •                    prolongation of natural lactation.

The most important role in how to get out of postpartum depression is played by communication with loved ones. This is a kind of psychological training that helps to escape from the difficult postnatal life. If the mood continues to decline, the further prospect of non-drug treatment is exclusively with a specialist. It is necessary to contact a psychotherapist for individual or group sessions.

local_offerevent_note June 2, 2020

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