What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth. PPD is a form of major depression that usually begins within 4 weeks of delivery. The diagnosis is not based on only the length of time between delivery and onset but also on the severity of the depression.

Postpartum Depression is linked to the chemical, social and psychological changes that happen when having a baby. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience. The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after delivery. The actual link between this drop and depression is still not too clear. But what we do know is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone, increase tenfold during pregnancy, then they drop sharply after delivery.

In addition to these chemical changes, the social and psychological changes of having a baby create an increased risk of depression.

Dads aren’t immune. Research also shows about 1 in 10 new fathers get depression during the year their child is born.

Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can be hard to detect, but these are the most common systems following childbirth:
• Trouble Sleeping
• Appetite Changes
• Severe Fatigue
• Lower Libido
• Frequent Mood Changes

These symptoms aren’t typical after childbirth and appear alongside major depression:
• Being uninterested in your baby or feeling like you are not bonding with them
• Crying all the time, often for no reason
• Depressed mood
• Severe anger and crankiness
• Loss of pleasure
• Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Thought of hurting someone else
• Trouble concentrating or making decisions

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 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 can’t function normally
• They can’t cope with everyday situations
• They have thought of harming themselves or their baby
• They are feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day

Postpartum Depression Causes and Risk Factors

If you have PPD, it is not because you did anything wrong. Experts think it happens for many reasons, and can be different for different people.

Some things that can raise the chances of postpartum depression include:
• A history of depression prior to becoming pregnant or during pregnancy
• Age at the time of pregnancy (the younger you are, the higher the chances)
• Ambivalence about pregnancy
• Children (the more you have, the more likely you are to be depressed in later pregnancy)
• Family history of mood disorders
• Having a child with special needs or health problems
• Having twins or triplets
• Having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
• Limited social support
• Living alone
• Marital conflict

There is no one cause of postpartum depression, but these physical and emotional issues may contribute:
• Hormones. The dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone after you give birth may play a role. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply and make you feel tired, sluggish, and depressed.
• Lack of Sleep. When you are sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems.
• Anxiety. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.
• Self-Image. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity, or feel that you have lost control over your life.

In the next article, we will explore more on the typed of Postpartum Depression, Prevention, and Treatment