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.
Postpartum Blues Vs Postpartum Depression
It is estimated that 50% to 80% of new mothers experience postpartum blues after having a baby. But postpartum blues are not the same thing as postpartum depression.
Although the symptoms of postpartum bluesmoodiness, trouble sleeping, weepiness, feelings of anxiety, and changes in appetiteare similar to the symptoms of postpartum depression, its important to understand what distinguishes postpartum blues from postpartum depression:
- Mothers who experience postpartum blues generally have less severe symptoms that dont interfere with their ability to function or care for themselves or their babies.
- Postpartum blues usually last for a few days and are intermittent.
- Postpartum blues are limited to the first two weeks postpartum.
Who Does It Affect
Postpartum depression is more common than you may think, affecting 812% of mothers. First-time mothers arent the only ones who experience this depression. It can also affect mothers who have already had children as well as adoptive mothers. Some studies have shown that partners can also experience postpartum depression
While postpartum depression can affect anyone, there are some factors that may put you at higher risk:
- History of mood or anxiety problems
- Family history of major depression or mental illness
- Hormonal changes
- Medical complications for you or your baby
Other stresses may increase these risks such as:
- Emotional stress: After giving birth, women may feel overwhelmed with responsibility, less attractive physically and sexually, anxious from changes in routine or lifestyle, and guilty because of social pressures to be a perfect mother
- Physical stress: In addition to hormonal changes, common physical changes after labour include weight changes, exhaustion and soreness
Stressors such as tension in a marriage, loss of a job or a lack of support system can also play a role. Even though adoptive mothers, partners and fathers can experience postpartum depression, hormonal changes during pregnancy and after birth are thought to contribute to postpartum depression in some women.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Because of the high morbidity of postpartum depression, the focus today is now on prevention. Unlike the psychiatrist, the nurse is in a primary position to identify women at high risk for postpartum mood disorders before delivery. During the admission, the nurse may identify the female with a prior history of depression or postpartum blues. Further, any female who develops depression during pregnancy should be identified and closely followed by the postpartum nurse or primary care provider. These women need education and support on available treatments. Some of these women may benefit from a consult with a therapist and others may need a referral to a psychiatrist for treatment with an antidepressant after delivery. Both pharmacological and nonpharmacological prophylaxis has been used in such settings with variable success. There is also a large body of evidence that postpartum women with depression who are treated have a much better mother-infant bonding experience than those women who forego treatment. More important, infants of mothers who are depressed may also develop a variety of mood and behavior problems, as well as obesity later in life. Despite awareness of postpartum depression, many women miss out on treatment because they are simply not followed after pregnancy. Thus, the role of the postpartum visiting nurse is critical.
Reducing The Risk Of Postpartum Psychosis
If you’re at high risk of developing postpartum psychosis, you should have specialist care during pregnancy and be seen by a perinatal psychiatrist.
You should have a pre-birth planning meeting at around 32 weeks of pregnancy with everyone involved in your care. This includes your partner, family or friends, mental health professionals, your midwife, obstetrician, health visitor and GP.
This is to make sure that everyone is aware of your risk of postpartum psychosis. You should all agree on a plan for your care during pregnancy and after you’ve given birth.
You’ll get a written copy of your care plan explaining how you and your family can get help quickly if you become ill, as well as strategies you can use to reduce your risk of becoming ill.
In the first few weeks after your baby is born, you should have regular home visits from a midwife, health visitor and mental health nurse.
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Psychiatric Disorders In The Postpartum Period
Pregnant women and their families expect the postpartum period to be a happy time, characterized by the joyful arrival of a new baby. Unfortunately, women in the postpartum period can be vulnerable to psychiatric disorders such as postpartum blues, depression, and psychosis. Because untreated postpartum psychiatric disorders can have long-term and serious consequences for both the mother and her infant, screening for these disorders must be considered part of standard postpartum care.
Postpartum mood disorders and psychoses must be identified to prevent negative long-term consequences for both mothers and infants.
The three psychiatric disorders most common after the birth of a baby are postpartum blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. Depression and psychosis present risks to both the mother and her infant, making early diagnosis and treatment important.
Several key risk factors have been identified as major contributors to the development of PPD, including:
A history of postpartum depression. A history of depression before conception. A family history of depression, particularly PPD.
Symptoms of PPD are similar to the symptoms of a major depressive episode experienced at any other time . There are, however, subtle differences, including:
Several major risk factors have been identified in relation to postpartum psychosis:
Related Conditions During Pregnancy And After Childbirth
Peripartum anxiety Although estimates vary, a 2013 study found that about 16% of women experience an anxiety disorder during pregnancy and about 17% experience it during the postpartum period.7 After giving birth, some women develop intense anxiety, with rapid heart rate, a sense of impending doom and irrational fears and obsessions. Feeling guilty and blaming oneself when things go wrong, and worrying and feeling panicky for no good reason are signs of anxiety in the peripartum period.8
Treatment may include medication and therapy, alone or in combination.
Peripartum bipolar disorder Bipolar disorder has two phases, the depression phase and the manic phase . When the lows and highs happen at the same time, it is considered a mixed episode. Bipolar illness can emerge during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Risk factors include a previous mood disorder and family history of mood disorders.
Symptoms of depression and mania:
- Severe sadness and irritability
- Rapid speech and racing thoughts
- Little or no sleep and high energy
- Impulsive decisions and poor judgment
- Delusions that can be grandiose or paranoid
- Hallucinations seeing or hearing things that are not present
Treatment can include mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications9 along with therapy.
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Diagnosis According To Current Systems Of Classification
The current psychiatric nosology has not classified postpartum psychosis as a distinct entity. Classification of puerperal illnesses as discrete nosological entities has been debatable for more than 30 years. Some school of thought regard PP as the postpartum presentation of an underlying disorder within the bipolar spectrum while others consider it purely as a distinct nosological entity.
When You Should Contact A Doctor
If its been 2 weeks postpartum and youre still experiencing intense feelings of sadness, its probably not the baby blues. But this doesnt have to be bad news: You can absolutely do something about the way you feel. You dont have to wait it out.
When you do decide to ask for help, be as honest as possible. It can be difficult to talk about the negative emotions associated with new parenthood, and it can be scary to reveal just how much of a hard time youre having.
However, the more open you are about your PPD, the better and faster a healthcare professional will be able to help you.
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What Are Perinatal Mental Health Problems
A ‘perinatal’ mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth.
Having a baby is a big life event. It’s natural to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy and after giving birth. But if any difficult feelings start to have a big effect on your day-to-day life, you might be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem.
This may be new mental health problem, or an episode of a problem you’ve experienced in the past.
‘Perinatal’ means the time from the start of your pregnancy up to roughly one year after giving birth. The word has two parts:
- peri meaning ‘around’
- natal meaning ‘birth’.
You might also hear other terms used to describe the times before or after giving birth:
- Antenatal or prenatal meaning ‘before birth’. This refers to the time when you are pregnant.
- Postnatal or postpartum meaning ‘after birth’. This refers to the first year after giving birth.
There’s no right or wrong word to describe the period of time around pregnancy and after giving birth. You might hear your doctor or midwife use any of these terms.
Information for partners
If your partner is pregnant or recently gave birth, you may also experience mental health problems around this time.
See our page on partners’ mental health, including ways to find help and support.
Causes & Risk Factors
There is no single cause of depression . Physical, hormonal, social, psychological and emotional factors may all play a part in triggering the illness. This is known as the biopsychosocial model of depression, and is accepted by most researchers and clinicians. The factor or factors that trigger PPD vary from one woman to another. For example, sleep deprivation resulting from having a new baby can make a woman vulnerable to other factors that trigger depression.
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How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last
Postpartum depression can last until one year after your child is born. However, this doesn’t mean you should feel “cured” in one year. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and treatment. Be honest about how you feel. Think carefully about if you feel better than you did at the beginning of your diagnosis. Then, they can recommend ongoing treatment for your symptoms.
Is Postpartum Ptsd The Same Thing
Hanson explains that PTSD refers to any physical, sexual, emotional, or developmental trauma. Postpartum PTSD refers to trauma acquired during or right after birth.
If the birthing person, their baby, or both face a real or perceived threat of injury or death, the postpartum individual may experience symptoms, such as:
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Can Ppd Affect Your Baby
Yes. PPD can make it hard for you to care for yourself and your baby. This is why its important to treat PPD as soon as possible. If PPD is untreated:
- You may skip your postpartum checkups and not follow instructions from your health care provider.
- You may find it hard to bond with your baby.
- Your baby may not breastfeed long. PPD may make it hard for you and your baby to get used to breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food for your baby through the first year of life.
- Your baby may not get medical care he needs. PPD may make it hard for you to take care of your baby if shes sick. You may not see health problems in your baby that need quick attention and care. It may be hard for you to get your baby regular well-baby care, like vaccinations. Vaccinations help protect your baby from harmful infections.
- Your baby may have learning, behavior and development problems and mental health conditions later in life.
Getting treatment for PPD can help you feel better and be able to care for your baby. If you think you have PPD, tell your provider.
How To Get Help
If you think you have postpartum depression, the best thing you can do is seek help right away. Postpartum depression can be diagnosed and treated anytime during the first year after childbirth, but the earlier you seek treatment, the betterand the sooner you will feel like yourself again.
Your healthcare provider will likely ask you questions about your mood during a postpartum check-up and have you take a postpartum depression survey to ascertain whether you have symptoms of postpartum depression or have a risk of developing it. Sometimes this is how you will begin the process of getting a formal diagnosis of postpartum depression.
But sometimes the symptoms of postpartum depression present themselves before or after these check-ups.
Postpartum Depression Guide
Even if you have been screened for postpartum depression previously, dont hesitate to reach out if you think you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression right now. Not all cases of postpartum depression happen within the first six weeks postpartum when most mothers are screened. Plus, each case of postpartum depression is unique.
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Understand What Postpartum Depression Is And Isnt
The baby blues is a normal occurrence, and even when youre overwhelmed, you feel like you want to be with the baby and bond with the baby, said Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and creator of the parent video guide, Pediatrician in Your Pocket.
Even though youre really tired and may not be thinking as clearly, you want to do things and be around other people, said Dr. Trachtenberg. There is still pleasure in moments.
But postpartum depression is different. When a new mom is crying on a daily basis, when she cannot find joy with her baby, when she isnt sleeping even if baby is asleep because of unyielding anxiety, or when she has intrusive thoughts consistently or if she has any thoughts of suicide, said Dr. Carly Snyder, M.D., a reproductive psychiatrist in New York City, then she is suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
Dr. Trachtenberg added that women also can develop other mental health conditions postpartum, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress syndrome if their birth experience was traumatic. Postpartum anxiety can also occur alongside postpartum depression and might include symptoms such as panic attacks, insomnia, obsessive fears about your babys health and safety, an inability to sit still or physical pain or discomfort, such as frequent headaches or stomachaches.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Postpartum Depression
Hormonal fluctuations that occur after birth can play a big role in a new mothers mood changes. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels increase to fortify both the uterus and the placenta. But delivery alters the levels of those and other hormones.
After giving birth, hormone concentrations drop by 100-fold within a matter of days, says Katherine Wisner, MD, the director of the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. The sudden plunge may create disturbances in mood, particularly in women who have prior histories of depression or anxiety, as noted above.
Periods of hormonal fluctuation, such as menstrual cycles and perimenopause, are associated with major depressive episodes, says Dr. Wisner. It could be that the fluctuations that occur during and after pregnancy may affect certain neurotransmitters or brain function in other ways.
This massive drop in hormones, along with the initiation of breastfeeding, disrupted sleep, and adapting to motherhood all contribute to the risk for developing depression, she adds.
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What Is Postpartum Depression Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Pregnancy and giving birth are intensely emotional experiences. And while these life-changing events can bring joy, they can also present challenges that make you feel sad, tired, and anxious.
Maternal Child and Health JournalFrontiers in NeuroendocrinologyDepression & Anxiety,
What Causes Postpartum Depression
The postpartum period is characterized by a rapid shift in the hormonal environment. Within the first 48 hours after delivery, estrogen and progesterone concentrations fall dramatically. As these gonadal steroids modulate neurotransmitter systems involved in the regulation of mood, many investigators have proposed a role for these hormonal shirts in the emergence of postpartum affective illness. While it appears that there is no consistent correlation between serum levels of estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, or thyroid hormones and the occurrence of postpartum mood disturbance, some investigators hypothesize that there is a subgroup of women who are particularly sensitive to the hormonal changes that take place after delivery. This population of women may be more vulnerable to PPD and to other hormonally driven mood disturbances, such as those occurring during the premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle or during the perimenopause.
Other factors may play a role in the etiology of PPD. One of the most consistent findings is that among women who report marital dissatisfaction and/or inadequate social supports, postpartum depressive illness is more common. Several investigators have also demonstrated that stressful life events occurring either during pregnancy or near the time of delivery appear to increase the likelihood of postpartum depression.
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