It is hard to imagine a parent that would become extremely sorrowful after the incredible, beautiful, and miraculous birth of their child. However, this behavior is not uncommon for many new mothers. In fact, nearly ten to twenty percent of these women will experience a prolonged period of sadness and hopelessness after giving birth, frequently referred to as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a psychological mood disorder that mainly affects mothers after the birth of their child, but it can occasionally affect women who miscarried, or women who recently weaned their child off breastfeeding (“Facts about postpartum”). In addition, recent research has also shown that this type of depression can have a dramatic impact on men (Mann, “Out of the Blue”). Postpartum depression has the ability to evoke anxiety, severe sadness, and mental and physical exhaustion. These effects interfere with daily routines and hinder people’s capability to take care of themselves and others(“Postpartum depression facts”).
There are many different and contributing factors that can lead to the development of postpartum depression; therefore, there is not a single cause. The interaction of physical and emotional factors often are responsible for the development of this disorder. A few possible contributing factors are sleep deprivation, changing hormone levels after childbirth, mood swings, or other lifestyle factors (“Postpartum depression facts”). Moreover, some women are genetically predisposed to depression or have a history of depression in their family. This could increase somebody’s likelihood of developing this disorder (“Facts about postpartum”).
Postpartum depression usually starts out with a common and milder depression known as the Baby Blues. In fact, nearly fifty percent of new mothers experience the Baby Blues. This condition contains intense and sudden mood swings, often characterized by emotions of euphoria and extreme sadness. People who experience the Baby Blues are at an increased risk of eventually developing postpartum depression. However, postpartum depression is distinguished by more severe feelings of anxiety, sadness, and despair. In addition, it is more prolonged than the Baby Blues. Symptoms are expected to worsen without medical attention (“Facts about Postpartum”).
Besides the aforementioned symptoms of despair, anxiety, and sadness, there are many other symptoms that also characterize postpartum depression. For example, losing interest in activities, experiencing feelings of irritability, and withdrawing from friends and family (“Postpartum depression”). Furthermore, people may notice trouble focusing, trouble sleeping, headaches, chest pains, or a change in their eating patterns. In extreme cases, mothers may experience recurring thoughts of harming themselves or their baby (“Facts about Postpartum”).
Although postpartum depression is a serious disorder, it is temporary and can be treated with medications and therapy. The two most common types of therapy that can be used to treat this disorder are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on helping people recognize and alter their negative thoughts, actions, behaviors, and ways of thinking. Interpersonal therapy concentrates on helping patients navigate and solve problems in their personal relationships with other people that could be causing or playing a significant role in their postpartum depression (“Postpartum depression facts”) .
In addition to therapy, medications can also be prescribed to treat this disorder. Antidepressants are the most effective medications because they affect the chemicals in the brain that are involved in regulating moods. Most antidepressants require continued use for a few weeks before they are greatly effective. The majority of medications for postpartum depression are safe to use while breastfeeding, but people should always consult their doctor about possible risks before using the medication (“Facts about Postpartum”).
Along with therapy and medications, individuals can make some lifestyle changes that may help reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. For example, getting sufficient sleep, exercising, eating healthy and regular meals, and relying on friends and family for support are all essential in overcoming this disorder. Yoga and meditation have also been shown to reduce stress and ease symptoms. It is especially important to take time off sometimes to relax and destress if somebody is suffering with this disorder (“Postpartum depression”).
In conclusion, postpartum depression is a mental disorder that is most common in women after childbirth and is characterized by extreme and prolonged feeling of sadness. However, this disorder can be treated through a combination of therapy, medication, and individual lifestyle changes. Treatment plans usually differ with each patient and are adjusted to meet the specific needs of the client. The treatment also depends on the severity of the depression. Although postpartum depression can seem like a scary thing, it is imperative that people take the necessary steps to make positive changes in their life to restore their health and well-being.
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