Postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression, is a form of mood disorder that occurs up to one year after childbirth. Postpartum depression can occur in parents of both genders, with around 10% of new fathers being affected.
Often confused with postpartum depression, is the Baby blues. This is a type of depression with stress-like symptoms, that occurs in 50% to 80% of new mothers. Symptoms are mild and last a few days to a week after childbirth. During this period, individuals should:
- Rest as much as possible
- Accept help from family and friends
- Connect with other new parents
- Take time for themselves
If baby blues symptoms become more intense and long lasting, affecting a parents’ ability to care for their baby and handle daily tasks, they may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- 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
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Causes of postpartum depression
The onset of Postpartum disorder may be caused by factors such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Personal stressors (such as lack of social support, change in identity or change in weight)
- Life Stressors (such as financial stress or lack of sleep)
There are several treatment options available when it comes to treating Postpartum depression. Typical treatments include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
Psychotherapy involves talking to a mental health professional and from this, gaining ways that one can deal more effectively with certain feelings and stressors.
Medications, such as antidepressants, may help to stabilise fluctuating hormones. Although medications usually have little risk involved with breastfeeding, it is usually best to discuss options with a health practitioner beforehand.
Other than professional treatment, self care tips to help with recovery include avoiding isolation and setting realistic goals, as well as getting rest and taking time out for oneself.