Beyond The Baby Blues: Postpartum Depression
For around 15 percent of women, giving birth can send them into a full-fledged depression, making it difficult to care for themselves and/or their families. You may feel extreme sadness and anxiety that begins anywhere from before you give birth to a month afterward. Other symptoms include:
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Feeling like you can’t take care of your baby
If you suspect you have postpartum depression, it’s crucial that you see your doctor for treatment, for both your sake and your baby’s sake.
Natural Ways To Treat Postpartum Depression
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If you are a newly postpartum mom who is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, here are tips on how to combat postpartum depression naturally.
This is a guest post by Rosie, a mom and a postpartum survivor. She blogs over at Solutions Mommy, which is a blog dedicated to helping first-time pregnant and postpartum moms feel confidant in their new roles as mothers.
Giving birth is one of the most amazing things a woman can go through. The last thing on your mind is developing postpartum depression after birth. After all, you waited 9 months to become a mom, Shouldnt you feel love pouring out from every pore for your baby?
Ill be going over signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and how to treat it naturally.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing addresses traumatic experiences involved in postpartum depression. This makes it a useful therapy for women with postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder , women who may have experienced traumatic childbirths or other circumstances.
Using brain stimulation techniques, the therapist helps reprocess traumatic memories in a way that alleviates the emotional attachment to the memories of the trauma.
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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.
Negative Effects Of Maternal Depression
The adverse impact of maternal depression on infant outcomes has also been studied. Depression has significant negative effects on a mothers ability to interact appropriately with her child. Depressed women have been found to have poorer responsiveness to infant cues and more negative, hostile or disengaged parenting behaviors. These disruptions in maternal-infant interactions have been associated with lower cognitive functioning and adverse emotional development in children, and they appear to be universal across cultural and economic divides., Other parenting behaviors are also affected, including problematic sleep habits, lower preventative health care utilization and undesirable safety practices. Chronic depression in mothers places children at higher risk for behavioral problems and later psychopathology, including anxiety, disruptive, and affective disorders conversely, remission of depression in mothers is associated with reduction or remission in the childrens psychiatric diagnoses. Maternal depression also increases the risk for negative infant feeding outcomes, including lower rates of initiating or maintaining breastfeeding, lower levels of breastfeeding self-efficacy, and more difficulties while breastfeeding. In low-income countries, maternal depression has been associated with both malnutrition and higher rates of diarrheal illness in children.
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Identifying Postpartum Anxiety Disorders
Although anywhere from about 6% to 28% of women may develop postpartum anxiety. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, your healthcare professional will probably recommend ruling out any physical problem first, such as hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism, before assuming anxiety is the cause.
In addition to good eating habits, rest and exercise, you can also benefit from relaxation exercises, support groups, counseling, and/or anti-depressants. Some of the support groups also offer referral services to mental health practitioners with a special interest in postpartum anxiety disorders.
What Are The First Symptoms Of Delayed Ppd
The symptoms of delayed PPD and regular PPD are the same. Its important to differentiate between PPD and the baby blues. The baby blues refers to feelings of sadness, worry, fatigue, and self-doubt which plague up to 80% of new mothers soon after birth. However, the baby blues only last a few days or weeks at most, and they resolve spontaneously.
These feelings are nothing more than a manifestation of the new responsibility that mothers take on for their babies, combined with physical fatigue and sleep deprivation. PPD, on the other hand, signals a more severe condition which is caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry.
In postpartum depression, hormones decrease significantly after delivery. Your levels of estrogen and progesterone, which were high during pregnancy, naturally go down once the baby arrives. In addition to the physical and emotional demands of new motherhood, these hormonal changes can affect the chemistry in your brain.
However, these hormonal changes arent the sole cause of PPD. Other factors, such as physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, feelings of unattractiveness, and having trouble adjusting to a new role in life also play a part in the development of delayed postpartum depression. In most cases, its a combination of these environmental and lifestyle factors along with an increased sensitivity to hormonal changes which cause of PPD.
- Loss of interest in usual activities.
- Weight gain or weight loss that isnt associated with dieting.
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What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression
Postpartum refers to the period following childbirth. Postpartum depression is a severe and long-lasting type of depression linked to this time.2, 10 While postpartum depression, or PPD, is frequently described as depression that starts within four weeks of babys birth, symptoms can arise at any time within the first year postpartum, and possibly even before delivery.2, 3, 10 Without treatment, theres no telling how long it will last, but it will not necessarily go away on its own or by wishing it would, and it can have serious consequences for mom and baby.3
Things You Can Do At Home To Help Ease Postpartum Depression
Symptoms of postpartum depression include unhappiness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and excessive anxiety about the babyâs health. 3 good sources of vitamin d include fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Studies have shown that positive and successful breastfeeding experiences reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression.
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How Can Family And Friends Help
It is important to understand that depression is a medical condition that impacts the mother, the child, and the family. Spouses, partners, family members, and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of perinatal depression in a new mother. Treatment is central to recovery. Family members can encourage the mother to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.
Support or advocacy groups can offer a good source of support and information. One example of this type of group is Postpartum Support International others can be found through online searches.
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.
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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.
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last
There’s no telling how long postpartum depression will last without treatment. It could persist for months or longer, and it can turn into a chronic depressive disorder. Even with treatment, there is no guarantee that PPD will resolve entirely, and there is always a risk of relapse. Some medications, such as antidepressants, can take several weeks to kick in.
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What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
- Your baby blues dont go away after 2 weeks
- Symptoms of depression get more and more intense
- Symptoms of depression begin within 1 year of delivery and last more than 2 weeks
- It is difficult to work or get things done at home
- You cannot care for yourself or your baby
- You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby
Ask your partner or a loved one to call for you if necessary. Your doctor, nurse, or midwife can ask you questions to test for depression. They can also refer you to a mental health professional for help and treatment.
Effectiveness Of Psychological And Pharmacological Treatments For Postpartum Depression
There is no difference in the effectiveness of psychological and pharmaceutical treatments for postpartum depression when measured by the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression . Researchers have provided evidence from randomized trials that suggest a better clinical outcome with pharmacological interventions versus psychological treatments. However, HRSD scores do not correlate well with functional outcomes such as work status and marital stability, suggesting that the decision to use pharmacotherapy should also be based on patient preference and informed by postpartum depression counseling. Psychological therapies have been shown to be as effective as pharmacological treatments for postpartum depression during a depressive episode. HRSD scores do not increase after treatment with certain psychotherapies until six months after childbirth. A Cochrane review has shown that interventions starting in the antenatal period were more effective in reducing maternal and infant morbidity, whereas early interventions during lactation had no benefit.
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Worried Someone You Love May Be Suffering From Ppd Or Ppa Watch For These Signs:
- Baby Blues dont improve after the first two weeks postpartum
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- She no longer has interest in things she used to enjoy
- She is either too tired or just doesnt care to make decisions
- She isnt engaging with the baby
- Her sleep patterns have changed, including frequent waking or having trouble sleeping, and not just due to having a newborn
- Constant or near-constant worrying
- Feelings of dread about what might happen
- Racing thoughts
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last And What Are The Risks Of Not Getting Treated
Theres no telling how long postpartum depression will last without treatment. It could persist for months or longer, and it can turn into a chronic depressive disorder. Postpartum depression is not something to be taken lightly, and new mothers should never feel like their depression is just a part of being a new mother. Suicidal and homicidal thoughts can sometimes arise in women with PPD and postpartum psychosis. Get emergency help if necessary.
Left untreated, PPD can have lasting effects on the baby as well as the mom. It can weaken the bond between mother and child and potentially hinder the childs healthy development.4 Specifically, it increases the childs risk for emotional and behavioral problems later on. Research indicates that the children of mothers with untreated PPD are more likely to cry excessively, experience delays in their language development, and have difficulty sleeping and eating.1
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Are There Natural Remedies For Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is serious and not something you should attempt to treat without a doctors input.
Along with medical treatment, natural remedies such as exercise and getting the right amount of sleep can help improve symptoms. Massage, meditation, and other mindfulness practices may help you feel better. Maintain a diet high in nutrients, but low in processed foods. If youre not getting the nutrients you need in your diet, ask your doctor to recommend the right dietary supplements.
How Can Delayed Ppd Be Treated
The best course of action to treat delayed PPD will depend on the severity of your symptoms. But in each case, the first and most important step is to talk to someone about your feelings. If you suspect that what youre dealing with is more than just the baby blues, discuss your feelings with your partner, a trusted friend or family member, or your doctor.
If youve ever thought about harming yourself or the baby, please go to the doctor as soon as possible, since this constitutes a medical emergency. Many women delay seeking help due to feelings of shame and guilt, but delayed PPD can be treated and its not the patients fault. The duration of postpartum depression will largely depend on how soon it is diagnosed and treated.
The most common treatment for delayed PPD includes some sort of psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are two of the most widely used forms of therapy to aid in the recovery of postpartum depression. These forms of therapy aim to help patients understand their emotions, understand themselves and their relationships, and regain control over their emotional state. Support groups can also be helpful, since they will allow you to come into contact with other women with their own postpartum depression stories, which will help with feelings of guilt and loneliness.
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Try Psychotherapy And Medication
If you have tried self-help, made lifestyle changes, and sought support but have experienced no improvement, your doctor may suggest that you try medication, psychotherapy, or both.
- Psychotherapy, also called mental health counseling or talk therapy, can help you to discuss your concerns and feelings, set goals that are manageable, and learn to respond to situations positively.
- Antidepressants may be recommended if your depression is severe or when other treatments have not improved your symptoms. Your doctor will take that into account if you are breast-feeding when prescribing your medication.
Research may be able to explain why a particular antidepressant is effective in treating postpartum depression. Researchers found that Citalopram from a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and sold under the brand name Celexa may restore connections between cells in the regions of the brain that are adversely affected by stress during pregnancy.
Other research indicates that if you are unable to cope with going to face-to-face talking therapy sessions, then Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy could your symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Remember: experiencing postpartum is nobodys fault. It is a medical condition that requires treatment.
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
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