Postpartum Depression

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After giving birth, many women experience a combination of mood swings, crying, irritability, exhaustion, anxiety, and insomnia known as baby blues. Baby blues usually begin within a few days after a woman gives birth, and continue for two or three weeks. However, baby blues don’t deprive the mothers of being happy about their babies and enjoying theme along with the negative impact of baby blues.

In some cases, the baby blues do not go within a month after birth and the symptoms of depression seem to get worse rather than better. Such a condition is considered to be postpartum depression (PPD). PPD develops in 10 to 20 per cent of new mothers. It also can happen after miscarriage and stillbirth and can last for months. 

Rarely, an extreme form of postpartum depression known as postpartum psychosis develops after childbirth. In postpartum psychosis, a new mother may act strangely, see or hear things that aren’t there, and be a danger to herself and her baby. This is an emergency, because it can quickly get worse and put her or others in danger.

When a new mother is depressed, the risk of depression in the baby’s father may also increase, especially that new fathers are already at increased risk of depression, whether or not their partner is affected. 

Causes and Risk factor

PPD is triggered by physical emotional and lifestyle factors.

Physical changes include:

  • A dramatic drop in hormones levels (estrogen and progesterone) after childbirth.
  • Other hormones produced by the thyroid gland may also drop sharply, causing a feeling of tiredness, sluggishness and depression.
  • Changes in blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can contribute to fatigue and mood swings. 

Emotional factors include: 

  • Sleep deprivation and fatigue may trigger feelings of helplessness, worthlessness and inability to handle minor problems. 
  • Anxiety about being able to care for a newborn. 
  •  Feeling less attractive.
  • A new mother could feel that she lost control over her life. 

Lifestyle influences include:

  • The baby or/and older siblings are demanding. 
  • Taking on too many other commitments along with dealing with a new born baby.

It is vitally important to seek help from your doctor if you experience:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual.
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much.
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy.

There is help for postpartum depression and you need not suffer alone.  Speak to your health care professional as soon as you feel symptoms outlined above that are above and beyond the first few days of parenthood when it is natural to feel emotional and overwhelmed, but this should pass.


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