What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is sometimes referred to as postnatal depression. It is a form of depression that affects approximately one in every seven mothers after their baby is born. It usually occurs about four to six weeks after the child’s birth. Typical symptoms of this condition include fatigue, a feeling of sadness, decreased sex drive, crying, irritability, anxiety, and inability to sleep. The cause of postpartum depression is unknown.
If I am experiencing postpartum depression, does it mean I am a bad mother?
Absolutely not. This is a clinical illness, and not an indication of how you feel about your child, or your ability to be a good parent. Because it is an illness, you need to talk to your doctor right away to seek treatment. Many women fail to get the help they need. A 2011 study conducted by 4Children, a British non-profit, found that half of all women in the United Kingdom with postpartum depression did not seek treatment either because they didn’t know they were suffering from it, they felt their symptoms weren’t severe enough to require treatment, or they were afraid of what would happen to themselves or their babies.
Is Postpartum Depression Only Experienced by Women?
No. In a 2010 study conducted by the Eastern Virginia Medical School, researchers found that approximately 10 percent of fathers experience postpartum depression, usually within three to six months after the birth of their child.
Even though the cause is unknown, are there any possible explanations for why someone develops postpartum depression?
The following are considered contributing factors:
- Being overly worried about the responsibilities of being a parent
- A difficult labor and childbirth
- Lack of family support
- Concern about possible strain on the relationship caused by having a baby
- Money troubles
- Not having friends and family nearby
- A history of depression, or a previous episode of postpartum depression
- Health issues that emerge following childbirth
- Drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after giving birth
- Lack of sleep
- Breastfeeding difficulties
Is there a way to prevent getting postpartum depression?
- According to the U.K. National Health Service, these may help:
- Exercise regularly – exercising is believe to alleviate the symptoms of this condition
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Use omega-3 fatty acid supplements – research shows a possible link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that allows serotonin, a mood stabilizer, to be released into the brain
- Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night
- Don’t let your blood sugar levels drop too low by not eating for long periods
- Make lists and get organized
- Talk to friends and family members about your feelings
- Join a local support group
What kind of treatment exists for postpartum depression?
In cases of moderate or extreme postpartum depression an antidepressant may be prescribed. These types of medication balance the chemicals in the brain that control mood. Antidepressants usually alleviate the feelings of irritability, hopelessness and the inability to cope; and help restore concentration.
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