Depression is a mood disorder that affects a person’s everyday emotional state. Some of the symptoms are feeling low energy and motivation, irritability, sleeping too much or too little, diminish interest in doing pleasurable things, changes in appetite, significant weight loss or gain, feeling worthless, inappropriate guilt, psychomotor agitation, or retardation. In some severe cases, recurrent suicidal thoughts. These symptoms cause impairment in daily functioning (APA, 2013). The treatment for depression includes medication, psychotherapy, or both (NIH, 2015). The cause of the postpartum depression is linked to hormonal changes
Science has proven that women with pre or peri depression have higher changes to develop postpartum depression. According to Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (2013, online) the Postpartum mood disorder are:
- Baby blues: Mood swings and mild feelings of sadness develop between 3 to 5 days after childbirth, then the symptoms disappear in a couple of weeks.
- Postpartum Depression: It usually develops within three months or any time during the first year. They affect 20% of postpartum women and the symptoms associated are: low mood, sleep disturbance, and poor functioning.
- Postpartum Psychosis: It develops within the first few weeks after childbirth. The symptoms include: Hallucinations, delusions, and other psychotic symptoms. It affects at 1-3 per 100 postpartum women.
- Postpartum Anxiety: The onset could be sudden or gradual and affect 5% to 20% of the new mothers. They can experience excessive worry, high anxiety, agitation, irritability, and sadness.
- Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Usually new mothers, between 3% to 5% experience intrusive thoughts and repetitive mental pictures, often about harming their babies, as well as targeted behaviors to reduce anxiety.
If a partner, friend, family member, or health practitioners observe any of the behaviors mentioned above, they need to seek for help, it is important for both the mother and the baby to prevent further and potential consequences.
As mentioned before, women who suffer pre or peri depression have higher changes to develop postpartum depression, but it is not always the case. It depends on a lot of factors such as environment, support, pre and post medical care, other mental or medical disorder, among others.
It is important:
- Seek for professional help such as individual and group therapy
- Medical follow ups and medication compliance, if the case
- Support from loved ones, partner, friends, family
- Keep in mind that experiencing Postpartum depression symptoms can be overcome
- Identify negative thoughts and responses
- Increase awareness of mood swings, triggers, behaviors to reduce symptoms
- Learn and acquire new techniques to help you deal with it such as: Look for the opposite emotion, thought stopping, behavior change, distractions, meaningful activities, take some time, even a few minutes, for yourself, engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation, praying, listening to music
- Be flexible and reasonable, do not judge yourself
- Be open to talk and share your symptoms with partner, family, doctors, nurses, and friends
American Psychiatric Association – DSM-5 (2013)
Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention, The 1-2-3’s of Treatment Planning (2018)