7 Things You Need To Know About Postpartum Depression
Studies have shown that 50-75% of new mothers will have baby blues soon after delivery. Of this number, about 10-20% will develop a more severe form of post-delivery depression, called postpartum depression.
These figures show that even as many as one in six mums could experience postpartum depression after childbirth. If you are one of them, remember that you are not alone and it's not as uncommon as you might think.
1. How can you tell if you have postpartum depression?
To begin with, it is good to know that there's no set list of symptoms which will provide you with a definite answer. Nonetheless, there are some signs to indicate it.
Unlike baby blues, postpartum depression comes with many other symptoms, including loss of appetite, insomnia, severe mood swings and even panic attacks. The main difference, though, is the time for which the symptoms last.
So if you feel down for more then two weeks after delivery, you should probably seek professional advice. Seeing your GP or public health nurse should be sufficient to start with.
2. Is postpartum depression a mental illness?
Postpartum depression is a mental health disorder that some women may experience after childbirth. It goes beyond baby blues, which are normal feelings of fatigue or moodiness that occur as you adjust to your new role as your hormones try to go back to what they used to be.
Postpartum depression takes things a step further and interferes with your quality of life as well as your ability to function normally.
3. How does postpartum depression affect your child?
Studies have shown that children with mothers suffering from severe postpartum depression that lasts 8 months or more are more likely to be adversely affected by it. In infants, it affects the quality of mother-child bonding, which can affect how your baby connects to people, making them passive and withdrawn.
It has also been shown to reduce cognitive development in babies as mothers with postpartum depression are less likely to provide the right range of engaged, positive stimulation that is necessary for learning and development in infants.
Long-term effects in children include behavioural problems, difficulty in grasping academic concepts, and a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues.
If you find it hard to bond with your baby it is important to understand that this does not mean you are a bad mother. It is probably caused by your condition, also forming a bond sometimes takes more time.
4. How long does postpartum depression last?
Unlike baby blues which usually go away on their own within a week or so, postpartum depression can last a long time without treatment. Some women experience it for several months or even years. Studies have shown that 30% of women who do not seek treatment for postpartum depression will still show some symptoms of depression up to 3 years after giving birth.
5. Can postpartum depression start before birth?
Although postpartum depression typically manifests itself after the birth of a child, some women may start experiencing it during pregnancy. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation may start to show up during the third trimester.
6. How can you deal with postpartum depression?
The most effective way to deal with postpartum depression is by consulting your GP about it. This is the only way to get a proper tailor-made treatment plan for you that will help you cope with this condition.
Once you're being diagnosed it is important to start treatment as soon as possible. Postpartum depression if left untreated, can last for several months, getting worse and worse with time. In severe cases, it may even lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
That being said there are a few more things you can do at home to deal with it:
- Get some exercise whenever you can.
- Something as simple as taking a walk with your little one can do you a lot of good.
- Eat healthy.
- Reach out to other people for help in taking care of your baby so you can get some time to take care of yourself.
- Take every opportunity you can get to rest. At night, your partner can take over one or two nightly feedings so you can get some sleep
- Talk to other people about what you are going through. There are many online parenting communities you can join, or you can reach out physically to friends and family. Social interaction is very important for mental health
7. Can a man get postpartum depression?
Men can also get postpartum depression. Just like its female counterpart, the symptoms may start to show two or three weeks after birth and can last up to three years or longer if left untreated.
Postpartum depression in men is similar to that in women. In both cases, feelings of severe depression, sadness, and emptiness, as well as feelings of anxiety and withdrawal from family and friends may be experienced.
If you think you may have postpartum depression symptoms, please talk to your GP about it. The good news is that with proper treatment, it is possible to start seeing positive results in as little as a few days. Many women see the symptoms completely subside within about six months. Plus, seeking treatment will allow you to be in the right state of mind to give your little one the perfect quality of care that she deserves.