Having a child can be the most beautiful experience in a woman’s life. It is a moment many cherish forever. Unfortunately, a majority of women experience baby blues immediately or sometime after delivering their child. Some might even suffer from post-partum depression (PPD), a much worse condition, presenting harsh symptoms that last significantly longer than the baby blues.
The term “baby blues” refers to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that follow childbirth. This is a short-term condition that lasts for a few days up to two weeks. Symptoms can include high levels of anxiety, agitation, restlessness, and erratic and irrational crying episodes. The main differences between a case of the baby blues and PPD are the severity of the symptoms and the duration of their effects. In cases where PPD is present, the symptoms will typically worsen and last longer than the baby blues. As the symptoms become severe, mothers may feel guilty or ashamed.
PPD can begin in late pregnancy, lasting up to four weeks after giving birth. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of all new mothers experience this condition. Some symptoms of PPD include:
- Difficulty being close to or bonding with the baby
- Erratic sleeping behaviors such as sleeping too much or barely sleeping at all
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty paying attention
- Irrational crying
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in the baby or family
- Fear of self-harm or harming the baby
Women who have experienced previous episodes of PPD are at a much higher risk of experiencing the condition during or after another pregnancy. According to the literature provided by Massachusetts General Hospital, women who have experienced PPD previously are 40 percent more likely to experience it when giving birth to future children. Those who have a family history of depression and other mental health disorders and who are going through stressful life events are also at an increased risk of developing the condition.
In some of the more severe cases, women experience episodes of postpartum psychosis, a rare condition that usually develops during the initial weeks following childbirth. In these cases, the symptoms are much more severe and typically require medical intervention. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include extreme paranoia, audio and visual hallucinations, delusions, and disorientation.
What causes postpartum depression?
There is no definite, singular cause of PPD. Physical, emotional, and social factors can all play a role in the development of the condition:
- Physical changes: After a woman gives birth, she will experience a huge decrease in her levels of progesterone and estrogen. Other hormones produced by the thyroid gland also see a sharp decrease. This dramatic drop in hormone levels leaves the woman feeling fatigued and depressed. Changes in blood pressure, blood volume, immune system, and metabolism can all play a role in the development of PPD.
- Environmental factors: Influencers such as financial insecurity and lack of support from partner, friends, and family also have a dramatic influence on a woman’s mental state following her pregnancy. An adverse environment may act as a trigger leading to the development of PPD.
- Emotional stress: Having a child is hard work, sometimes leading to lack of self-care and sleep deprivation. When a person is undergoing emotional and physical fatigue and feels overwhelmed, she might have trouble handling even the smallest of problems. Moms can feel worried about their ability to care for a new life. All of the serious emotional changes and feelings of stress that take place following childbirth can contribute to the development of depressive symptoms.
Getting over PPD
PPD can be a severe condition for some and deprive the women affected from enjoying the initial stages of motherhood. It is important to be vigilant of its symptoms and seek help if they continue or worsen.
If you or a loved one is battling a mental health disorder, get in touch with Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member of our admissions team as we have mental health partners located across Southern California. You can also chat online to a representative for more information on mental health services.