What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression [PPD] is a complex makeup of physical, emotional and behavioral changes that occur in women after they’ve given birth. One recent study found that 1 in 7 women may experience PPD in the year after giving birth. With approximately 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States, this equates to almost 600,000 diagnoses. The chemical changes that occur in a woman after giving birth, involves a significant drop in hormones. As a result, severe depression can set in and is referred to as “the baby blues”. Unfortunately, there is a significant stigma around postpartum depression, where many are ashamed to admit there is something wrong and feel the birth of a child should be a joyful time.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
Although it’s normal to feel moody or fatigued after having a baby, postpartum depression goes well beyond that. In other words, its symptoms can interfere with your ability to function. In addition, the symptoms vary person to person and can be hard to detect. Many women experiencing ppd may have:
· Difficulty sleeping
· Appetite changes
· Excessive fatigue
· Decreased libido
· Frequent mood changes
· Loss of pleasure
· Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and helplessness
· Thoughts of death or suicide
· Thoughts of hurting someone else
These feelings are most likely to start within a few weeks of delivery, however sometimes they doesn’t surface until months later. Without treatment, symptoms may continue to worsen.
Treatment for postpartum
If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, contact your doctor as soon as possible so that you can get started on treatment. There are a couple of options for treatment depending upon the individual’s needs: medication and therapy. Either one can be used alone, but they may be more effective when used together. It may take a few tries to find out what treatment works for you. Several types of psychotherapy (sometimes called “talk therapy” or “counseling”) can help women with postpartum depression. In addition, two popular methods used to treat PPD during therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.
Above all, being open and sharing concerns about your mental health is important in order to take great care of yourself and your baby. If you find that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.
This blog was written by Sade Massiah, LCMHCA