Causes and manifestations of postpartum depression
Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Adele, Courtney Cox, Princess Diana, Marie Osmond – what do you think brings together all these women? Of course, you would be right to say that all of them are famous and successful women who were able to fulfill themselves in show business or became government officials. But it would be too easy and that’s not the issue here.
Once, these women experienced terrible emotions, feelings, and states that changed their perception of the world. It would seem what can happen in the life of these successful women who have everything: fame, money, recognition? The thing is that one day their expectations were not met and all this was connected with the birth of a child, or to be more precise, with the period that came after the birth of the little man.
Postpartum depression is the condition that killed them from the inside; it is what made them think that they are bad mothers and that motherhood is suffering, gloom, and everyday pain. These women didn’t understand and were afraid of themselves and of what they were going through at the moment. Until one moment, they contacted a specialist in time to inform them of their diagnosis of “post-pregnant depression”.
What is depression after pregnancy? How do you recognize signs of postpartum depression and what if your life is divided into “before” and “after” with the birth of a child? Today we will try to find out the postpartum depression definition and answer the most common questions.
What is postpartum depression?
We want to give you a good example so that you can distinguish between ordinary autumn depression and postpartum anxiety. Imagine that you are walking near an unfamiliar house and seeing a terrible picture: two black bags lying under the balconies of one apartment building. One bag is larger and the other smaller. These are two bodies – a mother and a child who is one and a half years old. According to the closest people, the woman had been showing postpartum depression symptoms (ppd). The woman gave birth to a second child. She had no support and plus she had problems with breastfeeding. Thus, a person in despair didn’t find a way out of the situation under the influence of these postpartum depression risk factors. And unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. The situation is shocking and terrible, if a person had been heard and helped, it was possible to avoid such grief. Do you think that the woman is to blame for choosing this path? In any case, it is not for us to judge her.
When does postpartum depression start?
Everything starts with a misunderstanding. When the closest people (husbands, mother-in-law, or other relatives) don’t understand the woman’s condition and feelings. They refuse to accept the fact that a person needs the support and advice of a specialist. All symptoms, complaints, fatigue, and illnesses are perceived as laziness and a manifestation of their own ambitions. A young mother has just invented something for herself! In the past, women raised their children in terrible conditions and no one complained.
A young mother starts to suggest that this is a problem in her and most likely she has really come up with something. And then begins a period of self-beating and endless reflections.
After all, everyone is used to the fact that the newborn is the center of the universe, and only it needs maximum attention and care after birth. But it doesn’t. A woman who gave birth to a child needs these appearances of love and cares no less than a small and vulnerable person.
What causes postpartum depression?
The body of any person is a coherent and thoughtful system. The body of a woman who gave birth to a new life is an even more complex case. Postpartum depression is a colossal physiological and hormonal change that affects the psyche and moral state of a person. All these disorders and ailments can occur suddenly after the birth of a child and affect women’s calmness, comfort, and psychological health.
The main psychological and moral reasons for postpartum depression
- mismatch of expectations and reality (the woman thought she would give birth naturally, but it turned out that she had a C-section);
- the woman was taught that she should only breastfeed but it turned out that she would not be able to do so for certain reasons;
- the birth of a child that doesn’t meet the expectations of the expectant mother (wrong sex, looks like an unloved relative, a child with health problems and deviations);
- lack of support from relatives and closest people (it happens that these people expect heirs from a woman and don’t provide help, attention, and support after the child is born);
- a woman thinks she will be the happiest woman when she sees her child for the first time and is filled with love after the birth but she has not experienced such feelings;
- a young mother doesn’t have time for herself and dedicates all her time only to housework, newborn baby and husband;
- stressful circumstances within the family (relocation/emigration to another country, divorce or loss of a husband, father of the child);
- childbirth until the age of 25;
- insufficiently stable financial situation (lack of material support);
- complication before or after pregnancy;
- loss of family members and close relatives;
- a woman is not satisfied with her physical appearance before and after childbirth;
- negative circumstances and stress associated with unsatisfactory behavior or character of the child (hysteria, frequent crying, and whims).
And this is not the whole list.
How long does postpartum depression last?
There is another concept, which is called “baby blues” or “mother blues”. Most often it lasts up to one week and goes by itself. Feelings that a woman experiences may resemble conditions during the third trimester of pregnancy such as mood swings, irritability, and hypersensitivity. Such maternal blues may be associated with hormonal changes in the body of a young mother or with unreasonable expectations.
It is normal when a woman experiences anxiety for her baby and for herself, mood swings, crying, loss of strength and energy, insomnia (sleep problems), loss of appetite after giving birth for two weeks.
These symptoms (most or some of them) occur in 90% of women. In itself, childbirth is a very energy-consuming process (a woman loses about 5 000 kcal during childbirth) and these sicknesses are fully justified.
We cannot guess or predict how long the postpartum depression will last. It can take different periods for each woman. Usually, it can take 3-6 months after birth, and in some cases, a woman can suffer from 1.5 to 2 years.
Some and common postpartum depression signs
- bad mood (mood swings), sadness, and desolation that last most of the day (for several consecutive days)
- close ones (or a young mother) may notice that the woman (she) has no joy or interest in things she loved before
- fluctuations (no or excessive appetite), weight loss or gain of more than 5% per month
- a young mother has sleep disorders. A woman often wants to sleep (or can’t sleep normally) and she has no desire to get out of bed and do anything
- a woman may think about death or suicide.
How common is postpartum depression?
Approximately 13% of women around the world experience postpartum depression according to the World Health Organization.
You can feel similar symptoms that we mentioned above but you should understand that only a qualified specialist (not a psychologist but a psychotherapist) can diagnose “postpartum depression”. In order to assess your condition, you can find materials presented in the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).