What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Depression
Someone with postpartum depression may experience:
- Sadness, anxiety, or anger that doesnt go away
- Feeling worthless, helpless, guilty, hopeless, or irritable
- Feeling distant from your baby
- Crying more than usual
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Appetite changes
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Constant doubts about your ability to raise your baby
- Thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby
Postpartum Depression Timeline In Dads
Around 5 to 10 percent of fathers experience postpartum depression, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Pediatrics. It can be caused by sleep deprivation and many other factors”but obviously not by reproductive hormones, as it often does in women,” says Bennettand may result in anger, withdrawal, and feelings of overwhelm or neglect.
“PPD is very relational in how it impacts couples,” says Brandon Eddy, Ph.D., marriage and family therapist and assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Research from the National Institutes of Health shows that men whose partners have PPD are more likely to suffer from PPD themselves, experiencing it at an increased rate of between 24 to 50 percent.
The postpartum timeline for dads can be very similar to that of moms. “The first few weeks are a difficult adjustment for both parents, but if people find themselves still really struggling and depressed after that then they should seek treatment immediately,” says Dr. Eddy. “PPD is only going to get worse without treatment.”
Help And Support For Postnatal Depression
Many kinds of support are available for women experiencing postnatal depression.
Support and patience from family and friends are perhaps the most important factor in a womans recovery from PND. Talking about her feelings, particularly with other women in support groups or with a professional counsellor for example, through the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia national helpline can be helpful. In more severe cases, seeing a GP or perinatal psychiatrist to consider anti-depressants and other medications might be used to help bring about a change in mood.
Its important to remember that PND is a temporary condition that will improve with time.
Recommended Reading: Does Depression Go Away Completely
Other Psychotropic Medications And Breastfeeding
Some women with PPD may be administered an adjunctive benzodiazepine for anxiety or insomnia. Sedation and poor feeding have been reported in breast-feeding infants who are exposed to benzodiazepines, and divided low doses has been advised.101 Other psychotropic medication may be used by breastfeeding women with bipolar or psychotic illness or severe depression. Even though it was reported recently that lithium could be used during breastfeeding with careful infant serum level monitoring,110 lithium generally has not been recommended during breastfeeding because of reports of hypothermia, hypotonia, cyanosis, T-wave inversion, and lethargy reported in infants.61,101,111 There is a paucity of data about the safety of the newer antiepileptic drugs and atypical antipsy-chotics.105 Valproate and carbamazepine have been used safely during breastfeeding. It was reported recently that infant serum levels of lamotrigine are variable and sometimes high after breastfeeding.112 Preliminary data have suggested that oxcarbazepine, topiramate, gabapentin, and levetiracetam are not associated with adverse effects.61,105,111 Sporadic adverse effects have been reported with olanzapine, clozapine, and traditional antipsychotics.113 Infant monitoring should match the monitoring of potential adverse events that is used in adults.105 Studies that evaluate the long-term effect on child development after breastfeeding exposure to anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics are needed.
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.
Also Check: How To Deal With Depression Quotes
What Are The Types Of Postpartum Depression
There are three different types of postpartum mood disorders:
Postpartum blues or baby blues
The baby blues affect between 50% and 75% of people after delivery. If you’re experiencing the baby blues, you will have frequent, prolonged bouts of crying for no apparent reason, sadness and anxiety. The condition usually begins in the first week after delivery. Although the experience is unpleasant, the condition usually subsides within two weeks without treatment. The best thing you can do is find support and ask for help from friends, family or your partner.
Postpartum depression is a far more serious condition than the baby blues, affecting about 1 in 7 new parents. If you’ve had postpartum depression before, your risk increases to 30% each pregnancy. You may experience alternating highs and lows, frequent crying, irritability and fatigue, as well as feelings of guilt, anxiety and inability to care for your baby or yourself. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may appear within a week of delivery or gradually, even up to a year later. Although symptoms can last several months, treatment with psychotherapy or antidepressants is very effective.
Who Gets Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can affect any woman but some may be more at risk for developing it. Women who have had any kind of depression in the past or who have a family history of depression are more likely to get postpartum depression.
Other things that might increase the chance of postpartum depression include serious stress during the pregnancy, medical problems during the pregnancy or after birth, and lack of support at home.
Recommended Reading: Can Weed Make You Depressed
Postpartum Depression Signs And Symptoms
Symptoms of postpartum depression can be hard to detect. Many women have these symptoms following childbirth:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Thoughts of hurting someone else
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder that are new rarely occur in the postpartum period . The obsessions are usually related to concerns about the baby’s health or irrational fears of harming the baby. Panic disorder may also happen. You can have these conditions and depression at the same time.
Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous for new moms and their children. A new mom should seek professional help when:
- Symptoms persist beyond 2 weeks
- They canât function normally
- They can’t cope with everyday situations
- They have thoughts of harming themselves or their baby
- They’re feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day
Frequently Asked Questions Expand All
- What are the baby blues?
About 23 days after childbirth, some women begin to feel depressed, anxious, and upset. They may feel angry with the new baby, their partners, or their other children. They also may:
Cry for no clear reason
Have trouble sleeping, eating, and making choices
Question whether they can handle caring for a baby
These feelings, often called the baby blues, may come and go in the first few days after childbirth.
The baby blues usually get better within a few days or 12 weeks without any treatment.
Women with postpartum depression have intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair that prevent them from being able to do their daily tasks.
Postpartum depression can occur up to 1 year after having a baby, but it most commonly starts about 13 weeks after childbirth.
Postpartum depression probably is caused by a combination of factors. These factors include the following:
Changes in hormone levelsLevels of estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply in the hours after childbirth. These changes may trigger depression in the same way that smaller changes in hormone levels trigger mood swings and tension before menstrual periods.
National Womens Health Information Center
Also Check: Is My Depression Ruining My Relationship
Who Can Get Postpartum Depression
According to the CDC, postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 8 American women after childbirth. Some states may have PPD rates as high as 1 in 5 new mothers. Any woman who has just given birth can experience PPD, and even some new fathers experience it, too.
Some individuals may be more at-risk for developing PPD than others. According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for PPD include:
- A personal or family history of depression or other mental illness, such as bipolar disorder
- Having already experienced postpartum depression after the birth of a previous child
- Having a multiple birth
- Experiencing pregnancy or childbirth complications
- Having a child with special needs and/or health problems
- Financial issues
- Lack of personal support / relationship issues with spouse or partner
- Difficulty breastfeeding
Do you think that you might be at risk for postpartum depression? Click here to learn more about symptoms and treatment methods.
How Ppd Can Affect Your Life
You already know that PPD is causing you some difficult symptoms, and unfortunately, it could also affect your relationships. This isnt your fault. Thats why its a good reason to get treatment and shorten the duration of your depression.
Asking for help is good for both you and your relationships, including those with:
- Your partner. If youve become withdrawn or isolated, your relationship with your partner could be affected. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics , when a person has PPD, their partner becomes twice as likely to develop it, too.
- Your family and friends. Other loved ones may suspect that something is wrong or notice you arent acting like yourself, but they may not know how to help or communicate with you. This distance can cause increased feelings of loneliness for you.
- Your child. PPD can affect your growing relationship with your baby. Aside from affecting the way you physically care for your baby, PPD can affect the way you bond with your baby after birth. It may also cause damage to your existing relationships with older children.
Some researchers even believe that PPD may have long-term effects on a childs social and emotional development. A
You May Like: Mixing Depressants With Alcohol Can Cause
Why Postpartum Treatment Is So Important
If you think you have postpartum depression, it’s critical that you talk about it with your practitioner and your partner and/or other loved ones.
Left untreated, PPD can last for several months or sometimes even longer, and affect your relationship with your baby and others.
Experts believe that untreated postpartum depression may increase the chance of a baby having language delays, increased crying and behavior problems. And the possible long-term complications of untreated PPD are the same as in major depression which includes being at risk of harming yourself or your baby.
For all these reasons, its extremely important to seek help rather than try to wait it out or deal with it on your own. If youre having serious symptoms for more than a few weeks, chances are they wont go away without professional attention, so dont wait to see if they do.
The good news is that once postpartum depression is diagnosed, there are many safe and effective treatment options.
Get A Support System In Place
Before your babys birth, get your support system in place so you can reach out when you need help. Friends and family want to pitch in, so let them. Dont be shy about asking your partner, family member or friend to hold the baby while you take a shower or letting your mother do a load of laundry. Even five minutes of venting to a pal about how sore your nipples are can make things more bearable.
You May Like: Best Depression Meds For Anxiety
Factors That Impact The Ppd Timeline
There are a number of factors that can determine the postpartum depression timeline towards recovery.
These timeline factors include:
- When the initial symptoms start
- The severity of the symptoms and whether they persist chronically
- How soon a diagnosis is reached after symptoms present themselves
- Which type of postpartum depression the woman is diagnosed with
- How soon treatment begins after a diagnosis
- The types of treatments pursued
- How effective the treatment is at controlling and managing symptoms
- Whether or not the affected woman has adequate social and family support
- A womans history of anxiety and depression prior to pregnancy
- Other life circumstances, such as financial or relationship stress
These factors can help determine how soon a woman will recover from her PPD symptoms. Adhering to a postpartum depression treatment plan and implementing regular self-care practices are critical factors in achieving full recovery as quickly as possible.
How To Get Relief
Dont feel as though you need to power through PPD on your own. Receiving help means youll be able to continue loving and caring for your baby to the best of your ability.
There are several options for PPD treatment, and you may need to utilize more than one strategy. There are also lifestyle changes that may make recovery go faster.
Dont stop until you find a combination of treatments that works for you. Relief from PPD is possible with the right interventions.
Here are some options:
- Antidepressants. Your doctor may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor to treat your depression. There are several SSRIs available. Your doctor will work with you to find one that best treats your symptoms with the fewest side effects. Many SSRIs are compatible with breastfeeding or chestfeeding, but make sure your provider knows if youre nursing so they can choose the appropriate medication and dosage.
- Counseling.Cognitive behavioral therapy is a frontline strategy for treating depression, including symptoms of PPD. If you need help locating a provider in your area, you can search for one here.
- Group therapy. It may be helpful for you to share your experiences with other parents who have had PPD. Finding a support group, either in person or online, can be a valuable lifeline. To locate a PPD support group in your area, try searching by state here.
Don’t Miss: Online Support Groups For Teenage Depression
Role Of Obstetricians And Pediatricians
Numerous studies have reported on the low rates of screening, diagnosis, and treatment of perinatal depression in medical settings. Clinician discomfort with psychiatric disorders, time constraints, low belief in maternal mental health having an important effect on child development, and lack of knowledge about resources are some of the barriers to clinician screening for psychiatric disorders in medical settings.3032 However, the postpartum obstetric visit and pediatric well-baby visits are opportunities for the clinician to assess the mothers clinical status.31,33 Although women with PPD are often hesitant to divulge their mood and anxiety symptoms to their clinician because of guilt about having symptoms when motherhood is expected to be joyful, there may be indicators that further evaluation is needed. For example, PPD may lead to negative maternal perceptions of infant temperament and behavioral patterns such complaints should be addressed in the context of the infants behavior and how well the mother is coping with these difficulties.34 PPD has been associated with frequent nonroutine visits to the pediatrician such visits and telephone contacts may be warranted but could also be an indicator for further assessment of maternal mood and family functioning.35 Follow-up with the woman who is referred for treatment within the practice or to a mental health clinician reinforces the importance of treatment recommendations.
Suggestions For Family And Friends
Ways you can help a loved one who has PND include:
- Find out as much information as you can about PND.
- Be patient, empathetic and understanding.
- Ask the parent how you can help.
- Offer to babysit.
- Offer to help around the house.
- Let the mother know you are there for her, even if she doesnt feel like talking.
- Appreciate that the father may also be emotionally affected by the demands and challenges of new parenthood.
Read Also: Ways To Feel Happy When Depressed
What Is Postpartum Depression Or Postnatal Depression
Postpartum depression or postnatal depression is different from the baby blues. It usually occurs two to eight weeks after giving birth but can happen up to a year after the baby is born. One of the important things about postpartum depression is it’s not just feeling sad, Dr. Stuebe explains. Feelings of intense anxiety are also a common feature of postpartum depression.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression to look out for include feeling overwhelmed, persistent crying, lack of bonding with your baby and doubting your ability to care for yourself and your baby.
We all worry about our kids, but are so worried that it impedes their ability to enjoy their baby and to enjoy their life. Postpartum depression can make it difficult to care for yourself and your baby, too. I think it’s important for folks to understand that this is not just feeling sad or crying. It also can be feeling almost paralyzed by fear about something bad potentially happening to your child, and that is incredibly painful for the parent.
Another warning sign for postpartum depression is not being able to sleep, even when your baby is sleeping. If youre exhausted, but you are lying awake because your mind is racing, your brain is not being your friend, Dr. Stuebe says.