What is Postpartum Depression? Symptoms & Treatments
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression falls under the general medical term ‘Perinatal Mental Health’.
This refers to the mental health of a woman during pregnancy and birth, as well as in the postpartum period after the baby is born.
Perinatal Mental Health covers mental illnesses such as:
- Postpartum Anxiety
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Depression is depression suffered by either the Mother or Father following childbirth.
In women it typically arises from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue.
PPD affects every 10-15 mothers out of 100. Postpartum Depression typically starts within the first 12 months after childbirth.
Postpartum Anxiety and Depression are common. 15-20% of new mothers will develop postnatal depression and or anxiety.
The mother usually has worrying thoughts about the health of their child and feels they are not ‘good enough‘ to be a mum.
Also you can feel that your baby would be better off without you. You can be over-whelmed with concern for your baby.
Postpartum Psychosis is thankfully rare. 1-2 out of every 1000 births with result in Postpartum Psychosis – 1%. The numbers may be small but it is extremely serious.
Usually it happens within a few days of giving birth. It is vital that the mother receives professional health as soon as possible. It can be treated very effectively but needs quick treatment.
Thankfully perinatal mental illnesses are very treatable and only temporary. You can and will recover with proper professional help.
I had a wonderful GP who gave me a great piece of advice. When describing to me what is postpartum depression she said :
“Postpartum Depression is the same as ‘normal’ depression, the fact that it says ‘Postpartum’ is just to show the time in your life you suffer from it – after your baby. It’s no reflection on your ability as a mother”
What are the Symptoms & Treatments Of Postpartum Depression?
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
The main symptoms that are common to postpartum depression are:
- feelings of unhappiness and low mood
- finding it difficult to bond with your baby
- poor appetite
- loss of libido
- low self-esteem
Other symptoms common to this condition are :
- feelings of guilt
- loss of interest in normal activities
- loss of enjoyment in normal activities
- not interacting with other people
You may also have the following:
- panic attacks
- aches and pains
- loss of concentration
- feelings of hopelessness
- feeling unable to cope
- frightening thoughts about self harm and or suicide
- frightening thoughts about harming the baby
You can read about how I personally felt here in My Postpartum Depression Recovery Story.
If you feel any of the above you may be suffering from postpartum depression – it is important to seek help from your GP / Health Visitor.
You can also take a test here to see if you may be suffering postpartum depression – it can be useful to take the results of the test with you to the doctors.
It’s normal for new mums to feel a bit anxious and tearful after birth.
This ‘Baby Blues’ should only last for two weeks, if you’ve had these symptoms longer it may be postpartum depression.
What Are The Treatments For Postpartum Depression?
- Talking Therapy
Talking through your thoughts and feeling with a councillor can help you understand and recover from what you are experiencing. It helps you to identify what is affecting your postpartum depression and how to improve these situations.
Your GP may also recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify the negative thoughts and helps you find a way to stop the negative thinking and helps you think in a more positive way. CBT can be given one-to one or in a group.
Your GP may recommend a course of antidepressants if you are suffering from moderate to severe postpartum depression. For postpartum depression most have a course for six to 9 months.
You should take them for a long as your GP advises as if you stop too soon it may return. Most people struggle with a few symptoms for the first 2 weeks – such as nausea.
After your body has got used to them they will start to work and you’ll feel much better. They take two to four weeks to kick so give them a chance.
Usually the first couple of weeks will suck but I promise you it’s gets so much better – just hang on in there. There have been major studies that show that antidepressants do work with treating depression so please do consider them as an option.
Eating a healthy diet and exercise can really help recovery from postpartum depression.
It’s also good to take a break from your childcare duties and have some you time. Practising self care for mums is a must.
Make time for yourself to rest and get a good nights sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping make an appointment with your GP.
During the day get out and about and get some fresh air and a brisk walk is also beneficial.
Talk with family and friends about your feelings and ways they can help and support you. Starting a journal or self care book can also be really useful – studies have shown that writing down your feelings are a great form of self help.
You can also get support and encouragement from other mums online who have been in a similar position to you – group support is very effective.
Where To Get Help For Postpartum Depression?
Your first points of contact should be your GP and Health Visitor.
They have seen mums in the same position as you and have helped them through it. They will start you off on your recovery.
Your GP may recommend some medication, and will also be able to offer alternative methods of recovery.
Remember having postpartum depression does not mean you are bad mother or that you are unable to cope – you may feel this way but it doesn’t make it true.
Are There Any Charities For Postpartum Depression?
If you want to read more about what is postpartum depression, symptoms and treatments, or if you’d like some help then these charities can offer you advice and support on Postpartum Illness. They also give you more information on what is postpartum depression and other maternal mental illnesses :