Prior To The 19th Century
Western medical science’s understanding and construction of postpartum depression has evolved over the centuries. Ideas surrounding womenâs moods and states have been around for a long time, typically recorded by men. In 460 B.C., Hippocrates wrote about puerperal fever, agitation, delirium, and mania experienced by women after child birth. Hippocrates’ ideas still linger in how postpartum depression is seen today.
How Is It Treated
Postpartum depression is treated with counselling and antidepressant medicines. Women with milder depression may be able to get better with counselling alone. But many women need both. Moms can still breastfeed their babies while taking certain antidepressants.
To help yourself get better, make sure you eat well, get some exercise every day, and get as much sleep as possible. Get support from family and friends if you can.
Try not to feel bad about yourself for having this illness. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. Many women have postpartum depression. It may take time, but you can get better with treatment.
Listen To Her Feelings
If you know someone who needs some postpartum depression help, they probably are feeling alone, guilty, sad, and like they arent a good mother. They may even be feeling postpartum anxiety or anger. Dont ignore these feelings. Instead, you can offer ppd support by listening to her and showing her that you are there for her listen to her and show her that you are there for her. By being there for her and trying to understand what she is going through without judging or invalidating her feelings, she will feel more safe and supported.
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What’s The Difference Between Postpartum Depression And The Baby Blues
Though “postpartum depression” and “the baby blues” are sometimes used interchangeably, theyre two distinct conditions:
- The baby blues are very common, experienced by as many as an estimated 80 percent of new moms. After giving birth, women with the baby blues feel weepy, irritable, exhausted and anxious, and also have trouble sleeping. The baby blues usually begin within a few days postpartum and fade within two weeks.
- Postpartum depression symptoms are often similar to those of the baby blues which is why many women have trouble determining which one theyre experiencing. But while the baby blues last for only a short time and symptoms tend to be mild, postpartum depression symptoms can begin anytime within the first year after birth from right after birth to when you get your first period postpartum or wean your baby off breastfeeding. Postpartum depression symptoms tend to be both more pronounced and more enduring, lasting weeks, months or even a year or longer.
When Should A New Mom Seek Professional Medical Treatment For Symptoms Related To Postpartum Depression
A new mom should seek professional help when:
- Symptoms persist beyond two weeks.
- She is unable to function normally she cant cope with everyday situations.
- She has thoughts of harming herself or her baby.
- She is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.
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Does Postpartum Depression Qualify For A Disability
Women who need certain accommodations after pregnancy due to postpartum depression may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act . The individual affected with postpartum depression can be permitted certain accommodations with employers. Postpartum depression awareness month takes place in May.
Postpartum Depression: The Worst Kept Secret
- By Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor
Having a baby is one of the happiest times in life, but it can also be one of the saddest.
For most new mothers, the first several days after having a baby is an emotional roller coaster ride. Thrilling moments of happiness and joy are abruptly interrupted by a plunge into moments of depressive symptoms including weeping, anxiety, anger, and sadness. These baby blues usually peak in the first two to five days after delivery, and in most women, go away as quickly as they came.
Except sometimes they dont go away.
For some women, depressive symptoms continue well past those first two weeks or develop over the next several months after having a baby.
A recent article by Drs. Stewart and Vigod published in the New England Journal of Medicine explores postpartum depression, this potentially debilitating condition that affects between 6.5% and 12.9% of new mothers.
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Postpartum Depression By The Numbers
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 20% of new mothers experience one or more symptoms of postpartum depression, that number may be higher or lower based on where you live, your age, your risk factors, and your race/ethnicity.6
In some states, as many as one in five women experience PPD. You can view your states prevalence using the CDCs Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System .
- Asian women
- Women younger than 19 years old
What may be even more of a surprise is that men can develop postpartum depression, too . According to a study of several thousand people in the UK, and published in JAMA Pediatrics, one study, an estimated 4% of fathers experience depression in the first year after their child is born. Fathers who are young or have a history of depression may be more at risk. Both men and women need treatment to alleviate depression in the postpartum period, and the potential treatments are similar for both genders.
What Causes Postpartum Depression
More research is needed to determine the link between the rapid drop in hormones after delivery and depression. The levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increase tenfold during pregnancy but drop sharply after delivery. By three days postpartum, levels of these hormones drop back to pre-pregnant levels. In addition to these chemical changes, the social and psychological changes associated with having a baby create an increased risk of postpartum depression.
If you have had any of the following symptoms, please notify your healthcare provider right away:
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
- Depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day for the last two weeks.
- Feeling anxious, guilty, hopeless, scared, panicked or worthless.
- Difculty thinking, concentrating making decisions, or dealing with everyday situations.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most of the activities during the day nearly everyday for the last two weeks.
If you do have any of the previous symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you the following two questions:
If you answer yes to either one, your healthcare provider will administer a more in-depth depression screening.
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What Is Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a much rarer and more severe condition than PPD that may cause delusions and hallucinations. An estimated 4 out of every 1,000 new mothers experience it, and it usually begins in the first two weeks after childbirth.2
Symptoms may include:2
- Seeing or hearing things that arent there
- Feeling confused
- Trying to hurt yourself or your baby or having obsessions/ruminations about doing so
- Restlessness or agitation
- Behaving recklessly or abnormally
Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, usually in a hospital setting. Treatment may involve antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers. Electroconvulsive therapy , a procedure that sends small electrical currents through the brain, may also be recommended for severe psychosis and depression symptoms.1, 2
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better While Seeing A Doctor For Postpartum Depression
Here are some ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a health care professional:
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Dont try to do too much or to do everything by yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
- Talk with other mothers so that you can learn from their experiences.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor or nurse about groups in your area.
- Dont make any major life changes right after giving birth. More major life changes in addition to a new baby can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cant be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
It can also help to have a partner, a friend, or another caregiver who can help take care of the baby while you are depressed. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
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Complementary And Alternative Postpartum Depression Treatments
You may not want to take a prescription drug, especially if youâre breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about whether you should try any of these therapies, either instead of or along with standard medical treatment:
- Yoga. In one study of depressed new moms, more than three-quarters of them who did yoga twice a week for 8 weeks got better.
- Massage. It may have a positive effect on postpartum depression. Although more studies are needed, findings suggest that massage helps improve symptoms.
- Relaxation training. Techniques like deep breathing, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis can teach you to soothe yourself. More than a dozen studies have shown that relaxation training can help you recover from depression.
- Meditation. Learning to meditate lets you âexist in the moment.â You focus on your breathing and let go of your thoughts. It might help you with your depression.
Study results on herbal and dietary supplements like St. Johnâs wort are mixed. Acupuncture and light therapy have not been shown to be effective with postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression Is Different From The Baby Blues
Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby. Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than those of baby blues, a term used to describe the worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to symptoms of depression, but may also include:
- Crying more often than usual.
- Feelings of anger.
- Feeling distant from your baby.
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious.
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby.
- Doubting your ability to care for your baby.
If you think you have depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible.
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When Does Postpartum Depression Start
Postpartum depression can begin within days of giving birth or anytime within the first year after childbirth. Many women experience a milder condition called the baby blues in the first two weeks after giving birth, and it typically resolves on its own. Women who experience depression symptoms that last longer than two weeks postpartum should reach out to a medical professional for help.
What Are The Symptoms
A woman who has postpartum depression may:
- Feel very sad, hopeless, and empty. Some women also may feel anxious.
- Lose pleasure in everyday things.
- Not feel hungry and may lose weight. .
- Have trouble sleeping.
- Not be able to concentrate.
These symptoms can occur in the first day or two after the birth. Or they can follow the symptoms of the baby blues after a couple of weeks.
If you think you may have postpartum depression, take a short quiz to check your symptoms:
A woman who has postpartum psychosis may feel cut off from her baby. She may see and hear things that aren’t there. Any woman who has postpartum depression can have fleeting thoughts of suicide or of harming her baby. But a woman with postpartum psychosis may feel like she has to act on these thoughts.
If you think you can’t keep from hurting yourself, your baby, or someone else, see your doctor right away or call 911 for emergency medical care. For other resources, see:
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention:
- Check your local phone book or provincial website for resources on getting help in your area.
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British Columbia Specific Information
After delivery or adoption of a child, it is common to experience some symptoms of postpartum depression. There are a number of resources available to help you and your family cope with postpartum depression. Visit Healthy Families BC – Coping with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, or BC Womens Hospital and Health Centre Self-care Program for Women with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety .
You may also contact the Pacific Postpartum Support Society toll-free at 1-855-255-7999 or at 604-255-7999 in the lower mainland Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Support Society is also available by text at 604-256-8088 Wednesday to Friday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Visit Pacific Postpartum Support Society for additional information.
Psychotherapy And Postpartum Depression
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is commonly prescribed alone or with antidepressants to treat postpartum depression. Your doctor can refer you to a qualified mental health professional who specializes in treating postpartum depression.
Youâll meet with a counselor on a regular basis to talk. Theyâll ask about your life, and itâs important that you answer honestly. You wonât be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you.
Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better. There are two common types of therapy for women with postpartum depression:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. You and your counselor work together to identify, then change, thoughts and behaviors that are harmful to your mental health.
- Interpersonal therapy. Your therapist helps you better understand how you behave in your relationships and how to work through any problems.
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Postpartum Depression Causes And Risk Factors
If you have PPD, itâs not because you did anything wrong. Experts think it happens for many reasons, and those can be different for different people. Some things that can raise the chances of postpartum depression include:
- A history of depression prior to becoming pregnant, or during pregnancy
- Age at time of pregnancy
- Ambivalence about the pregnancy
- Family history of mood disorders
- Going through an extremely stressful event, like a job loss or health crisis
- Having a child with special needs or health problems
- Having twins or triplets
- Living alone
Thereâs no one cause of postpartum depression, but these physical and emotional issues may contribute:
- Hormones. The dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after you give birth may play a role. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply and make you feel tired, sluggish and depressed.
- Lack of sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
- Anxiety. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.
- Self-image. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity, or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression.
Prioritize Your Own Feelings
As a new parent, youre going to be laser-focused on the needs of your baby. Thats perfectly normal. But when youre dealing with postpartum depression, its critical that you spend more time on your own feelings and emotions.
At the end of the day, its perfectly okay to ask your partner, friends, or family if they wouldnt mind chipping in to help a bit while you focus on improving yourself. After all, when youre suffering postnatal depression, its impossible for you to be the best parent you can be.
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Offer To Help Out In Specific Ways
Even with professional treatment, your partner is still going to need your help to get better. The more support she receives, the better her chances of getting well even faster.
When someone is struggling with depression, they may find it harder to make decisions. And someone with anxiety may want to do everything themselves. So simply asking your partner, Can I help? may not do the trick.
Instead, make a plan and tell your partner specifically how youre going to help. Tell her, Im going to take the baby to the grocery store so you can take a nap. Or, Im going to pick up dinner for us tonight on my way home. This will make it easier for your partner to accept help. And it gives you the chance to take a real role in helping your whole family feel better.
Once someone starts treatment for postpartum depression or anxiety, they usually start to feel better in about six weeks. So focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. The steps you are taking to help your partner now are vital. Your partner will definitely appreciate your help when theyre back to feeling like their normal self!
Catching Postpartum Depression Quickly
Because postpartum depression affects the health of the woman, her infant, and her entire family, it is very important to screen for postpartum depression risk. Most obstetricians are now implementing some type of screening tool during the postpartum checkup. Screening is very important because studies have shown that many women with postpartum depression are ashamed of their symptoms and are afraid of the social stigma associated with the diagnosis.
Although symptoms of postpartum depression can vary, the typical symptoms include:
- sleep disturbances
- feeling overwhelmed
- preoccupation with babys health or feeding
Making the diagnosis of postpartum depression is based on more than just the presence of these symptoms. Some of these can be normal, especially after a difficult sleepless night caring for a newborn. It is the intensity of the symptoms and how they affect a womans ability to adjust and cope with life stressors that are key to making the diagnosis of postpartum depression.
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