Coping With Postpartum Depression Tip : Create A Secure Attachment With Your Baby
The emotional bonding process between mother and child, known as attachment, is the most important task of infancy. The success of this wordless relationship enables a child to feel secure enough to develop fully, and affects how he or she will interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life.
A secure attachment is formed when you as the mother respond warmly and consistently to your babys physical and emotional needs. When your baby cries, you quickly soothe him or her. If your baby laughs or smiles, you respond in kind. In essence, you and your child are in sync. You recognize and respond to each others emotional signals.
Postpartum depression can interrupt this bonding. Depressed mothers can be loving and attentive at times, but at other times may react negatively or not respond at all. Mothers with postpartum depression tend to interact less with their babies, and are less likely to breastfeed, play with, and read to their children. They may also be inconsistent in the way they care for their newborns.
However, learning to bond with your baby not only benefits your child, it also benefits you by releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more confident as a mom.
Prognosis Of Postpartum Psychosis
With timely diagnosis and treatment, women with postpartum psychosis usually recover completely and are able to live a normal life.
Recovery may take a few weeks to several months and the journey can be difficult. The condition may be shocking, as well as frightening, for both the woman and her family.
Fortunately, the occurrence of postpartum psychosis in the mother has not been shown to affect the long-term growth and development of the child.
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.
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Other Postpartum Depression Treatments
Your doctor may also recommend one or more of the following postpartum depression treatments:
- Psychotherapy . Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are often effective in pregnant and postpartum women. Youll meet one-on-one with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or other mental health provider who can help you to solve problems and cope with your feelings.
- Light therapy. Bright light therapy has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, though experts say some results are conflicting and more research needs to be done. During light therapy, youll sit with your eyes open in front of a light box that mimics daylight, which can cause a positive biochemical change that can help ease symptoms.
- Acupuncture. Some research suggests that acupuncture can help reduce symptoms of depression.
- Support groups. There are plenty of postpartum depression support groups . Talking with others who are experiencing the same thing may help you feel less alone, and you may pick up tips that can help you better handle your symptoms and feelings. But although PPD support groups can be helpful, they shouldnt replace medication or talk therapy.
When You Should Contact A Doctor
If youre not feeling better 2 weeks postpartum, get in touch with your doctor. While youll be screened for PPD at your 6-week postpartum appointment, you dont have to wait that long. In fact, doing so can make it take longer for your PPD to get better.
After 2 weeks, if youre still experiencing intense feelings, its probably not the baby blues. In some ways, thats good news: It means you can do something about the way you feel. You dont have to wait it out.
When you do ask for help, be as honest as possible. We know its difficult to talk about the negative emotions associated with new parenthood, and it can be scary to reveal just how much youre struggling. However, the more open you are about your PPD, the better and faster your provider will be able to help you.
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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.”
Icipating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials uncovered years ago. Be part of tomorrows medical breakthroughs. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information webpage.
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Postpartum Psychosis Risk Factors
The factors increasing the risk of postpartum psychosis include:
- First pregnancy
- History of postpartum psychosis in one or more previous pregnancies
- History of bipolar disorder
- History of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder
- History of a traumatic pregnancy
- Depression during pregnancy
- Recent stressful or adverse life events
- Inadequate social supports
- Family history of bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis
- Discontinuation of psychiatric medications during pregnancy
How Is Postpartum Depression Screening Performed
There are a number of different ways to screen for postpartum depression. Postpartum depression screening tools include tests, questionnaires and other screening methods. Postpartum depression screening can be performed in the hospital, at the doctors office, at a psychiatrists office or at home online.
Today, many medical experts recommend that postpartum depression screening be performed within the first week after delivery on all women. This helps medical professionals to recognize early signs so that treatment can be implemented before symptoms get worse.
However, postpartum depression screening is still not a standard practice in many hospitals and therefore, symptoms can go largely unrecognized for weeks or months. Despite the lack of standardized PPD screening, there are many hospitals today who are making postpartum depression screening part of routine postpartum care which presents hope for the future of health care for new mothers.
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Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Who Performs Postpartum Depression Screening
In an official capacity, postpartum depression screening is performed typically by the womans obstetrician-gynecologist . Postpartum depression screening can also be performed by the family physician, a labor and delivery nurse or another type of health care provider working with the mother.
Because postpartum depression screening tools are widely available online, the woman herself or her family can also help to perform a postpartum depression screening test in an unofficial capacity. Taking postpartum depression screening tests yourself can help clarify the symptoms and timeframe which will be important information to physicians or psychiatrists who will make the eventual diagnosis.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a rare, but extremely serious disorder that can develop after childbirth, characterized by loss of contact with reality. Because of the high risk for suicide or infanticide, hospitalization is usually required to keep the mother and the baby safe.
Postpartum psychosis develops suddenly, usually within the first two weeks after delivery, and sometimes within 48 hours. Symptoms include:
- Extreme agitation and anxiety
- Inability or refusal to eat or sleep
- Thoughts of harming or killing your baby
Postpartum psychosis should be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention.
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
What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Depression
A parent with postnatal depression will often start to experience symptoms within the first month of having a child. However, symptoms can develop any time in the first 12 months, e.g. after four or six months. Symptoms of depression may also develop during the pregnancy itself, before delivery. Signs of postpartum depression are generally present for more than two weeks.
While they may vary from person to person, as well as differ in form and severity, some of the more common signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, like other types of depression, include:
- Persistent low mood this may take the form of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, irritability, frustration, anger, a feeling of being overwhelmed, or other negative emotions
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable, including sex
- Strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Tiredness and lack of energy and motivation
- Trouble concentrating and making decisions
- Memory problems
- Disrupted sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite
- Persistent headaches, other pains, or digestive trouble without a clear physical trigger
It is important to keep in mind that some of the symptoms listed above, e.g. tiredness, disrupted sleep patterns and low sex drive, are normal after having a baby â and not necessarily indicators of PPD. If any symptoms are troubling you, try using the Ada app for a free assessment.
Why It Might Last Longer For You
The timeline for PPD is different for everyone. If you have certain risk factors, you might find your PPD lasting longer even with treatment. The severity of your symptoms and how long you had symptoms before beginning treatment can affect how long your PPD lasts.
Risk factors include:
- a history of depression or other mental illness
- breastfeeding difficulties
- a complicated pregnancy or delivery
- a lack of support from your partner or family members and friends
- other major life changes occurring during the postpartum period, like a move or loss of employment
- a history of PPD after a previous pregnancy
Theres no formula to determine who will experience PPD and who wont, or for how long itll last. But with the right treatment, especially when its received early, you can find relief even if you have one of these risk factors.
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If Medication Is Prescribed Will It Affect My Breastmilk
Most antidepressants are considered safe to take while breastfeeding, with little risk of side effects for the baby. Your doctor can explain which medications are safe to take while breastfeeding and which may not be.9
Its important to remember that having untreated PPD can potentially put your baby at risk of behavioral and developmental delays. Breastfeeding should not inhibit you from seeking treatment for PPD, just as getting treatment for PPD should not stop you from breastfeeding.
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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Screening For Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a severe condition that has a number of different risk factors associated with developing it. Postpartum depression can affect different women differently and at different points during the postpartum period.
With as many as 20 percent of women experiencing mild to severe forms of clinically diagnosed postpartum depression, it is vital that postpartum depression screening tools be used to assess a womans risk of developing this condition. This is an especially urgent health concern as it is estimated that the real rate of postpartum depression is possibly double what is actually reported and diagnosed.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
Symptoms of postpartum depression can vary from woman to woman. But common signs include:
- feeling sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
- feeling worried, scared, or panicked
- blaming yourself unnecessarily
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- trouble concentrating
- not feeling attached to the baby
- not wanting to do things that usually are enjoyable
Although it is very rare, some women have very serious symptoms such as:
- thoughts of hurting the baby or themselves
- hearing voices, seeing things that are not there, or feeling paranoid
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How Long Does Postpartum Psychosis Last
The most severe symptoms of postpartum psychosis usually last about 2 to 12 weeks. However, it may take 6 to 12 months, or even more, for some women to recover completely.
That being said, with proper treatment, most patients are able to make a complete recovery within a shorter duration.
In some cases, an episode of postpartum psychosis may be followed by a period of severe anxiety, depression, and low confidence. And it may take a while to come to terms with these changes in moods, behaviors, and actions.
Some mothers may have difficulty bonding with their baby even after an episode of postpartum psychosis has passed, while some may feel sad or guilty about missing the opportunity to care for their baby.
However, with support from their partner, family members, friends, and healthcare team, they can overcome these feelings.
Signs Of Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression can have a broad range of symptoms. These can vary in how severe they are.
You may be feeling sad, anxious and alone. You may be feeling guilty, irritable and angry. You may be experiencing panic attacks. You may not enjoy being with people, even your baby.
Other symptoms of postnatal depression include:
- loss of appetite
Feelings and thoughts you might experience include:
- feeling inadequate
- feeling rejected by your baby
- worrying a lot about your baby
Obsessive behaviour may be another sign of postnatal depression. You may have overwhelming fears, for example about your baby dying. Some mothers have recurring thoughts about harming their baby. Very few mothers ever act on this.
Get help from your GP or public health nurse if these feelings or symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Do not let worrying thoughts you may have about your baby stop you from seeking help. Effective treatment is available. The vast majority of women with postnatal depression are treated at home with their baby.
Your family and friends may notice that you have postnatal depression before you do. If they mention this to you, take it seriously and seek help from your GP or public health nurse.
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