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What you need to know about postpartum depression

There’s no doubt that parenting a new-born is challenging, especially if you’re a first-time mom. A lack of sleep and expressing breast milk are just two physical challenges that you’ll need to overcome.

It’s probable that you’ll also experience emotional pain called ‘baby blues’ which according to the Mayo Clinic includes, ‘mood swings, crying spells and anxiety’ – this usually subsides within two weeks. However, many women experience severe emotional pain called postpartum depression which requires treatment. Here’s what you need to know about the condition.

What is postpartum depression?

It’s essentially a form of clinical depression. If you feel so overwhelmed by motherhood to the extent that you have no interest in caring for your child at all, you are likely to be diagnosed with this mental condition if your ‘baby blues’ feelings become more intense after two weeks of giving birth.

Causes of postpartum depression

Medical professionals have cited hormonal changes as a possible cause for postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, your hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, are at their highest levels; once you give birth, they drop back into their normal range. Office on Women’s Health explains that ‘Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression. This is similar to hormone changes before a woman’s period but involves much more extreme swings in hormone levels.’

Symptoms of postpartum depression

The respected Mayo Clinic says that the following symptoms are characteristic of a mother suffering from postpartum depression. As mentioned above, signs and symptoms usually occur within the first few weeks after giving birth. However, with postpartum depression, they can manifest during pregnancy or even up to a year after the baby is born.

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother

Treatment of postpartum depression

Mothers need to receive treatment because if left untouched, it may become a chronic depressive disorder. The following methods are available.

Medication for postpartum depression

According to Medical News Today, ‘Antidepressants may help with irritability, hopelessness, a feeling of not being able to cope, concentration, and sleeplessness. These medications can help with coping also bonding with the baby but can take a few weeks to become effective.’

Therapy

Please remember that postpartum depression is not your fault, and there is no shame in seeing a therapist to support you. If you’re feeling nervous, it’s worth asking a family member or close family friend to join you at your appointment.

Before you speak to a therapist make a list of the symptoms, you’re experiencing as well as any other medical (physical and mental) conditions you may have. This is to ensure that the therapist has as much knowledge about you as possible – it will give him/her context and can help make the session more effective.

How Marie Stopes can help you

Marie Stopes offers Women’s Wellness services which include taking a medical history. All the staff members are trained professionals and will be able to ask the right questions to help you document your medical history if you’re having trouble doing so in preparation for your therapy session.

Schedule an appointment at your nearest centre today.

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