What is postpartum depression, and how to deal with it, knows every 2 women who have given birth to a child. Previously, this term was almost never used. The condition of the young mother after childbirth was evaluated solely on specific physical grounds. Doctors were interested in uterine contractions and suture healing. Few people were interested in the psychological aspects of the new state. But this does not mean that they were not there.
The state system some 60-70 years ago was arranged in such a way that a few months after the birth of the baby, the woman had to give her baby in a nursery and go to work. In addition to the service, sometimes physically difficult, the young mother also had all household duties.
Washing, cleaning, ironing and cooking took our grandmothers much more energy, because at that time there weren’t so many household appliances, ready-made food sets and disposable diapers.
Women of the last century simply did not have time for postpartum depression. However, this did not abolish the borderline condition that the young mother might have had in connection with her new responsibility and increased responsibilities. Just the fairer sex were forced to become strong, not knowing what postpartum depression could lead to, and how to deal with it.
Attitude to postpartum syndrome today
In modern society, much has changed in relation to the woman who has given birth, and in medical practice. Aspects of the psychological state of the fairer sex are trying to pay more attention. However, despite the growing number of specialized trainings and seminars that are held with expectant mothers at family planning centers and antenatal clinics, the pathological condition called depression after childbirth is becoming more common.
It can manifest itself in different ways. Someone experiences this in a mild form and finds ways to overcome their condition. Others prefer to wait a little while for a pronounced manifestation of postpartum depression.
Only a few are able to assume that they are exposed to a serious illness that can cause irreparable harm to the health of not only the mother, but also the baby, especially if the depression is prolonged after childbirth. In these cases, self-medication or self-discipline will not help. The processes taking place in the body of a recently given birth woman are difficult to control by willpower. In difficult cases, you should not force the patient to look for a way to get rid of postpartum depression on her own, but timely professional help should be provided.
Do not underestimate this disease. Prolonged depression in itself is qualified by psychologists as a rather dangerous phenomenon. In some cases, it does not go away without medical attention. Postpartum depression in women is characterized not only by emotional problems. The whole body experiences extreme stress, which affects the nervous and other systems of internal organs.
Doctors have no exact answer to the question how long this condition can last. This is individual in each case. But the fact that a woman needs to help recover from depression that has dragged on for too long is a consensus among doctors. And in this struggle, young mother can not do without male support and care of loved ones.
Difficulties in making a diagnosis
The main difficulty in helping a woman in a difficult period is how to recognize postpartum depression. The fact is that during pregnancy and especially before the birth of a child, the body is rebuilt. A large number of certain hormones are produced that are specially created by nature so that the expectant mother is mentally and physically prepared for childbirth.
However, the natural mechanisms of regulation of the nervous system are not enough. Every woman is very stressed before giving birth. It is explained by physical fatigue and fear of an upcoming important event, which is accompanied not only by the joy of meeting a child, but also by severe physical pain.
During this period, a woman develops excessive anxiety, mood swings, tearfulness, and sometimes sleep disorders occur. However, stress before childbirth, which happens in all expectant mothers, does not mean that they all become depressed.
The manifested anxiety does not pass immediately after the birth of the child, it is a natural manifestation of the adoption of a new status. But this condition should not persist for a long time. Psychologists and obstetricians say that stress disappears after 3-4 weeks, sometimes after 2-3 months.
This time is enough for the mother to learn to confidently care for the baby and find a common language with him, as well as adapt to her new status in the family. Typically, stress does not require the advice of a physician and, under favorable conditions, passes quickly and easily.
Everything is much more complicated when postpartum depression begins, the reasons for which lie not only in hormonal changes in the body.
What is postpartum depression?
Hundreds of thousands of women immediately after the birth of a child experience unprecedented joy and a surge of strength. But after a couple of hours a strange feeling creeps into the soul, as if struggling with all the positive emotions.
A young mother begins to feel fatal fatigue, her mood is falling, irritability and anxiety are growing. The postpartum woman cannot find the strength in herself for elementary physical actions. These are the first signs of postpartum depression, which is described as an atypical psychological and physical condition, expressed in a certain complex of negative emotional messages and a decrease in activity in general.
Approximately 20% of women suffer from postpartum depression, only 2-3% receive treatment. At the same time, about 80-90% of young mothers have a mild to moderate form of the disease. In most cases, they manage to suppress its manifestations on their own or with the help of loved ones who are able to tell how to cope with depression, and what to do to restore harmony in the soul and head.
Doctors cannot accurately answer the question of why postpartum depression occurs. Previously, medicine attributed everything exclusively to the physiological processes taking place in the woman’s body. How to treat hormonal disruptions has long been known to science. However, such therapy is not always beneficial.
Even if we are struggling with barely beginning signs of an unstable psychological and physical condition using exclusively drugs aimed at restoring the ratio of hormones in the body, the patient may continue to feel fear, tiredness and be in a depressed state.
Observing dozens of families that have recently become parents, experts came to the conclusion that this problem concerns not only women. There are recorded cases when postpartum depression in men is diagnosed. This proves that such a condition cannot be caused only by hormonal disorders in the body. The causes of postpartum depression are much more complex than normal physiology.
What is the impetus for an atypical perception of reality?
Having a baby dramatically changes the life of a young couple. Especially if the first-born appears in the family, many familiar things become unavailable to spouses for some time. As a rule, it is impossible to fully prepare for what awaits new parents. After all, each child is individual.
Even when a woman in theory studies what postpartum depression is, her symptoms, and how to deal with this condition, events can actually happen that can ruin a positive attitude.
In addition to chronic lack of sleep, the notorious hormonal background and general physical fatigue, and sometimes health problems that arose during pregnancy and childbirth, a woman is forced to rebuild her entire daily schedule. It is difficult for some ladies to come to terms with this. When grandmothers or other relatives do not help young parents, not only responsibility and care for the baby is entrusted to the young mother, but also all homework, which becomes more with the advent of a new family member.
Various fears associated with raising a child are added to physical fatigue. Often, a newly-minted mother can not immediately find mutual understanding with the baby, adequately respond to his needs, correctly perform certain manipulations that require care for the baby.
In some families, after a woman goes on maternity leave, the standard of living is greatly reduced. Costs are rising and revenues are falling. Material difficulties have a great influence on the general psychological state of the mother and other family members.
Often, after the appearance of the baby, the relationship between the spouses deteriorates. On the one hand, a woman does not constantly get enough sleep and often experiences a lot of pressure from others, with whom she seeks to prove that she copes well with new responsibilities.
In addition, it changes externally and, as a rule, not for the better. It takes several months for a female body to get in shape. After childbirth, the vast majority of the fairer sex decreases libido. If there have been surgical interventions or injuries during obstetric care, restoration of sexual activity can occur after an indefinite amount of time.
On the other hand, against this background, a man who has double responsibility for the material well-being of the family does not receive the amount of attention that he could count on before. The lack of intimacy and changes in lifestyle sometimes contribute to increased excitability and even aggressiveness of the spouse.
As a result, conflicts and mutual disappointment occur in the couple, because each of the partners expects other help and advice on how to survive postpartum depression. And not finding support in a loved one, he experiences anger and closes himself even more. It is almost impossible to cure this severe psychophysical state without the participation of loved ones. After all, the atmosphere in the home plays a huge role in the adequate perception of each member of the family in a new status.
If a woman refers to a certain personality type, prone to mood swings, suspiciousness and isolation, then there is a high probability that the birth of the baby and the difficulties associated with it will only exacerbate these manifestations.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Like any other disease, the acute psychological state of a woman after childbirth has a number of features that manifest themselves to varying degrees. Symptoms of postpartum depression usually develop between 2 and 6 months of a child’s life.
However, these indicators can be individual and depend on the general state of the mother’s health, including mental and social conditions in which she is. Experts say that to restore a woman’s physical and moral balance, it takes about the same amount of time as carrying a child. This is a classic answer to the question of how long postpartum depression lasts.
The peak of its manifestations occurs in the middle of the 9-month period after the birth of the baby. During this time period, the signs of a psycho-physical disorder are no longer regarded as manifestations of ordinary stress. Behavioral changes in a young mother may qualify as symptoms of postpartum disorder. They are usually divided into classic and additional. The diagnosis is confirmed if the young mother clearly shows at least 2 main and up to 4 indirect symptoms.
The classic signs of depression are conventionally divided into 3 groups:
- General suppressed state. For several days, the woman does not change her mood. She is sad for no reason. Tearfulness and irritability are often observed.
- Lack of interest in activities that used to be fun. Reluctance to do what you love, even if you have free time. The state of apathy.
- Physical inhibition, slowness in movements, sometimes stupor. Indifference to everything that happens around.
Among the additional signals about the development of postpartum depressive syndrome, experts distinguish the following manifestations:
- guilt complex;
- low self-esteem;
- inability to make decisions;
- fears for the health of loved ones, turning into a phobia;
- pessimistic perception of reality;
- thoughts or actions that could harm yourself or your child ;
- suicide attempts.
It is clear even to a person without a medical education that in the last 2 cases the situation has gone too far, and the mother needs urgent help from specialists who will be able to suggest a way to get out of depression and prescribe adequate treatment.
But even the presence of a woman with several classic symptoms suggests that she needs special support and care. Indeed, if postpartum depression begins, how long this condition lasts depends on the atmosphere in the family.