Most women experience mood swings after childbirth, this is quite normal. However if these mood swings continue for more than two weeks ,then it may be time to seek medical assistance as this could mean that you are suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).
Though postpartum depression is often mistaken for baby blues, nothing could be further from the truth. While baby blues come and go, PPD describes the more severe or prolonged symptoms of clinical depression. This condition last for more than 2 weeks and usually interfere with the ability to deal with normal duties including looking after your baby.
In 1 out of 7 women, the stresses and emotional changes that accompany their postnatal experience is usually intense and may include anxiety, depressive mood swings, inability or loss of interest in usual activities and social withdrawal. Postnatal disorders can interfere with the bonding of mother and baby after birth. This may result in a strained relationship between parents and children as well as cause distress in women.
Basically there are 2 types of postnatal depression, these are:
This is the most common type of depression and is closely linked to psychosocial risk factors such as biological and genetic causes. These disorders do not have melancholic and biological features though depression can still be severe. Non-melancholic depression is more likely to respond to psychological therapies though medication may be used when the symptoms are very severe.
This condition is quite rare and occurs in about 1-2 percent adults in the course of their lifetime. When it occurs, the condition is severe and has more biological and distinct genetic basis. Symptoms of melancholic depression include slowing down of physical movements, poor concentration and slowed cognitive processes.
Studies show that postpartum depression is highly treatable using various approaches. If the cause of PPD is identified under social risk factors, therapy should be aimed at dealing with the root cause of the problem.
Approaches under this category include increasing partner support, cognitive therapy and additional help with childcare.
Part of the problem with treating postnatal depression is that this condition is rarely reported. This is due to the fact that some mothers prefer not to talk or confide about what they are experiencing to close friends, family or healthcare workers. In addition the people in whom a mother confides may not take her symptoms seriously. Family, friends and physicians may notice some changes in mothers experiencing postpartum depression that she may not notice or feel are real. Knowing that this condition is treatable using various approaches can make it easier for women to seek medical attention.
During treatment an experienced medical professional work with a postnatal mother to develop a plan that is right for her. This plan may include a combination of medical and social interventions. Women suffering from PPD can discuss various treatment options with their doctors to ensure that they get the best therapy that fits their needs.
According to National Institutes of Mental Health, women in the childbearing years are the most likely to suffer depression in their lifetime. Studies show that about 15 percent of all women will experience postnatal depression following the birth of a child. When the mental health of the mother is affected, the stability of the entire family is compromised.
When to consult a physician
If you are feeling depressed after childbirth, you may be embarrassed or reluctant to admit or seek medical intervention, however this is critical if you notice that the signs and symptoms of depression have these features:
- Involve thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Do not go away after 2 weeks
- Make it hard for you to take care of the baby
- Make it hard for you to complete daily tasks
Effective Psychological Treatments
These treatments are usually recommended as the first line of treatment for mild-to-moderate postpartum depression especially for women with no previous history of mental health complications.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
This is a type of therapy based on the concept that unrealistic and unhelpful thinking leads to negative behavior.CBT seeks to break this cycle and discover new ways of thinking that can help you behave in a more positive way.
Cognitive therapy assists PPD mothers to realize that there is no ideal motherly behavior. Since all mothers are human and they error in so many ways, it is not helpful or necessary to try to become a super mom.
Antidepressants work by helping to balance mood-altering chemicals in your brain. They ease symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, low mood and lack of concentration. These drugs allow you to function normally and help you cope better with the baby.
Unlike what most people believe, antidepressants are not addictive. A course usually lasts 6-9 months. From the moment they are administered, antidepressants may take 2-4 weeks to start taking effect. Since the drugs take time to take effect it is important to keep up with them even when you do not see instant improvement. In addition you should continue taking your medication for the full duration as recommended by your physician. If you stop taking your medication too early, the depression may recur.