Postpartum Depression: What Is It, What Causes It, And How Can It Be Treated?

postpartum depressionPostnatal depression (PND), also known as Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects some women after having a baby.  Typically, it develops within four to six weeks from giving birth, but can sometimes take several months to appear.  Often, there is no clear reason for the depression.  Some men also develop postnatal depression.  The patient may experience fatigue, sadness, reduced libido, episodes of crying, irritability, anxiety, and irregular sleeping patterns.

Causes of Postpartum Depression:

There’s no single cause of postpartum depression.  Physical, emotional and lifestyle factors may all play a role.

  • Physical changes.  After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression.  Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.  Changes in your blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can contribute to fatigue and mood swings.
  • Emotional factors.  When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn.  You may feel less attractive or struggle with your sense of identity.  You may feel that you’ve lost control over your life.  Any of these factors can contribute to postpartum depression.
  • Lifestyle influences.  Many lifestyle factors can lead to postpartum depression, including a demanding baby or older siblings, difficulty breast-feeding, financial problems, and lack of support from your partner or other loved ones.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:

  • Postpartum blues (baby blues). Very short in duration, may not require formal treatment but supportive care onlypostpartum depression
  • Postpartum depression. Lasts longer, is more debilitating, and requires medical care
  • Postpartum psychosis. Most severe form, requires aggressive psychiatric care

There are many possible symptoms of postpartum depression, including the following:

  • Inability to sleep or sleeping a lot
  • Change in appetite
  • Extreme concern and worry about the baby or a lack of interest or feelings for the baby
  • Feeling unable to love the baby or your family
  • Anger toward the baby, your partner, or other family members
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Fear of harming your baby; these thoughts may be obsessive, and you may be afraid to be left alone in the house with your baby.
  • Irritability
  • Sadness or excessive crying
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Feelings of doubt, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or restlessness
  • Lethargy or extreme fatigue
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other usual activities
  • Mood swings marked by exaggerated highs and lows
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
  • Hyperventilating
  • Frequent calls to the pediatrician with an inability to be reassured
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, which may include thinking about or even planning suicide
  • Obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are intrusive

Treatment Options For Postpartum Depression:

If, despite the self-help and the support of your family, you’re still struggling with postpartum depression, you may want to consider seeking professional treatment.  Postpartum depression responds to the same types of treatment as regular depression.  Therapy, medication, and support groups can all be helpful.postpartum depression

  • Individual therapy or marriage counseling – Therapy can be very effective in the treatment of postpartum depression.  A good therapist can help you successfully deal with the adjustments of motherhood.  If you are experiencing martial difficulties or are feeling unsupported at home, marriage counseling can also be very beneficial tool.
  • Hormone therapy – Estrogen replacement therapy sometimes helps with postpartum depression.  Estrogen is often used in combination with an antidepressant.  There are risks that go along with hormone therapy, so be sure to talk to your doctor about what is best—and safest—for you.
  • Antidepressants – For severe cases of postpartum depression where you’re unable to care for herself or her baby, antidepressants may be an option.  However, medication use should be accompanied by therapy, as well as close monitoring by a physician.
If your loved one is experiencing postpartum depression, the best thing you can do is to offer support.  Give her a break from her childcare duties, provide a listening ear, and try being patient and understanding.  You also need to make it appoint to take care of yourself.  Dealing with the needs of a new baby is hard for fathers as well as mothers.  If your significant other is suffering from postpartum depression, chip in, help out and do the best you can to make the transition a little smoother 🙂
Thanks for Reading!!!

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About the Author ()

Originally born and raised in Woburn Massachusetts (love my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins!) I made my trek northward to the beautiful state of Maine back in October 2003 after marrying my college sweetheart. We began a family in 2004 and I am happy to say that we have 4 happy, healthy, beautiful children that bring an amazing amount of joy to our lives! I am also a type 1 diabetic. Diagnosed back in 2006 (out of the blue), at a routine doctors visit. Diabetes has single handed-ly been the biggest obstacle that I have faced in my life. At the time I had no idea of what a roller coaster ride I would be in for, I mean really, what's a couple finger sticks a day and a couple shots of insulin for food...this will be easy, I got this! Well 2 ER visits later, I quickly found out that this was no joke, and if I wanted to see my little ones grow up, this was something that I needed to take seriously! Little by little as we began to digest all of the information that was being thrown at acting insulin, short acting insulin, lancets, test meters, test strips, ketone sticks, carb counting, food groups, glucagon emergency kits, insulin pumps, glucose monitors...OMG, my head was spinning like a top!! After a couple of crazy years, I can happily say that I am well controlled and feel absolutely amazing! Not to be lost in all of this either is the amazing support of my wife. She has been my rock! She has been with me every step of the way, from 2am finger sticks to helping me change out a failed pump in the middle of a crowded restaurant. She truly is an amazing wife and mom and I can't imaging my life without her love and support- love you babe!
  • Christopher Noftall

    Thanks!! I hope you enjoy reading my blogs, take care 🙂

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