May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Mental Health Post a Day in May – May 14th – Post-Partum Depression

Happy Mother’s Day!

In honor of Mother’s Day I needed to make my “Mental Health Post a Day in May” be about Mothers and that is why my post today is specifically related to mothers and is about post-partum depression.

I had post-partum depression with each of my three children, but the symptoms were most dramatic and most severe after the birth of my first child. After being diagnosed with post-partum depression after the birth of my first child, I was soon diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few months later.


Definition By Mayo Clinic Staff

 Definition

The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.

Many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.

 But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms — and enjoy your baby.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary,  and they can range from mild to severe.

Postpartum baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Post Partum Depression

  • Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.
  • Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
  • 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
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis

With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.

When to see a doctor

If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis, get help immediately.

It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:

  • Don’t fade after two weeks
  • Are getting worse
  • Make it hard for you to care for your baby
  • Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If you have suicidal thoughts

If at any point you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby and call 911 or your local emergency assistance number to get help.

Also consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call your mental health specialist.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

Helping a friend or loved one

People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they’re depressed. They may not be aware of signs and symptoms of depression. If you suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement.

Causes

There’s no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical and emotional issues may 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.
  • Emotional issues. 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, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression.

Risk factors

Postpartum depression can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. The risk increases if:

  • You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
  • You have bipolar disorder
  • You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
  • You have family members who’ve had depression or other mood stability problems
  • You’ve experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
  • Your baby has health problems or other special needs
  • You have difficulty breast-feeding
  • You’re having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
  • You have a weak support system
  • You have financial problems
  • The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted

Complications

Left untreated, postpartum depression can interfere with mother-child bonding and cause family problems.

  • For mothers. Untreated postpartum depression can last for months or longer, sometimes becoming a chronic depressive disorder. Even when treated, postpartum depression increases a woman’s risk of future episodes of major depression.
  • For fathers. Postpartum depression can have a ripple effect, causing emotional strain for everyone close to a new baby. When a new mother is depressed, the risk of depression in the baby’s father may also increase. And new dads are already at increased risk of depression, whether or not their partner is affected.
  • For children. Children of mothers who have untreated postpartum depression are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, such as sleeping and eating difficulties, excessive crying, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Delays in language development are more common as well.

Treatments and drugs

Treatment and recovery time vary, depending on the severity of your depression and your individual needs. If you have an underactive thyroid or an underlying illness, your doctor may treat those conditions or refer you to the appropriate specialist. Your doctor also may refer you to a mental health provider.

Baby blues

The baby blues usually fade on their own within a few days to one to two weeks. In the meantime:

  • Get as much rest as you can
  • Accept help from family and friends
  • Connect with other new moms
  • Create time to take care of yourself
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can make mood swings worse

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is often treated with psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or mental health counseling), medication or both.

  • Psychotherapy. It may help to talk through your concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider. Through therapy, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.
  • Antidepressants. Your doctor may recommend an antidepressant. If you’re breast-feeding, any medication you take will enter your breast milk. However, some antidepressants can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects for your baby. Work with your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants.

With appropriate treatment, postpartum depression usually goes away within six months. In some cases, postpartum depression lasts much longer, becoming chronic depression. It’s important to continue treatment after you begin to feel better. Stopping treatment too early may lead to a relapse.

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis requires immediate treatment, often in the hospital. Treatment may include:

  • Medication. When your safety is assured, a combination of medications — such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers — may be used to control your signs and symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). If your postpartum depression is severe and does not respond to medication, ECT may be recommended. During ECT, a small amount of electrical current is applied to your brain to produce brain waves similar to those that occur during a seizure. The chemical changes triggered by the electrical currents can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and depression, especially when other treatments have failed.

Treatment for postpartum psychosis can challenge a mother’s ability to breast-feed. Separation from the baby makes breast-feeding difficult, and some medications used to treat postpartum psychosis aren’t recommended for women who are breast-feeding. If you’re experiencing postpartum psychosis, your doctor can help you work through these challenges.

Coping and support

The already stressful, exhausting period following a baby’s birth is more difficult when depression occurs. But remember, postpartum depression is never anyone’s fault. It’s a common medical condition that needs treatment.

So, if you’re having trouble coping with postpartum depression, talk with a therapist. Ask your doctor or therapist about local support groups for new moms or women who have postpartum depression.

The sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll be fully equipped to cope with depression and enjoy your new baby.

Prevention

If you have a history of depression — especially postpartum depression — tell your doctor if you’re planning on becoming pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.

  • During pregnancy, your doctor can monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of depression. He or she may have you complete a depression-screening questionnaire during your pregnancy and after delivery. Sometimes mild depression can be managed with support groups, counseling or other therapies. In other cases, antidepressants may be recommended — even during pregnancy.
  • After your baby is born, your doctor may recommend an early postpartum checkup to screen for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. The earlier it’s detected, the earlier treatment can begin. If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend antidepressant treatment or psychotherapy immediately after delivery.

Please keep visiting my blog My Loud Bipolar Whispers and look for statistics or other beneficial information related to mental illness to increase awareness, educate, reduce mental illness stigma and reduce suicides.

It is crucial and imperative for all of us to get involved and save lives.

So, please visit my blog every day, but especially every day throughout the month of May.

Thank you. Hugs and blessings to all of you always and forever.

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8 comments

  1. Reblogged this on J-Dubs Grin and Bear It and commented:
    How fitting that Sue posted this on Mother’s Day. Celebrities have written about their personal experience with postpartum depression. Brooke Shields for one. Hopefully this has reduced the stigma. Not trying to be a downer on this otherwise happy occasion. It’s just so important to be educated on the topic. With Pony I had baby blues. Likely just my perfectionist personality afraid I’d fail. My mom and others stayed with me daily. Definitely short lived. With Lulu, I didn’t have my mom. She passed away when Lulu was just 5 weeks old. Now that was hard. It wasn’t baby blues as much as the sadness of losing my mom. Important info contained within.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a very informative blog post, thank you for writing it. Dealing with depression myself I knew that I would be more prone to PPD when I had my daughter. I never had attachment issues, on the contrary I am very close to her and loved being near her. It just felt isolating at first.

    You are right meeting other mothers helped me for sure. Now, I can’t believe that she just turned 2 years old on May 12th! It’s amazing. I’m also working full-time now, when I was with her I was freelancing part-time but mostly home with her. So I wasn’t working much. I’m way better now. What I will say about PPD is that it passes, at least it did for me. I still have general depression, but have coped much better staying busy and working. 🙂

    Thanks again for the post! Really enjoyed it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading. Yes PPD does vary for everyone. Not everyone has all of these symptoms…thank goodness. I did write a post about when I gave birth. I should have linked it to this post… Oops. I didn’t think of that. I also didn’t have the symptom of not being close to my babies, it was the opposite after a few days where I became almost obsessed with my babies and loved them so much it was very hard for me to be away from them. Anxiety and depression did overcome me though. I always loved my babies but disliked myself with having my severe depression and then with my Bipolar. Thank you for your kind wonderful and very informative comment. I appreciate it and love having dialog with other bloggers and learning so much from you and others. You are an awesome mom and a survivor. Happy Mother’s Day to you. Hugs. Sue

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I didn’t have any detachment issues what so ever with my daughter either. But, similar to you, I didn’t like feeling down. I knew it was coming with my life long battle with depression. So, I was bracing myself for it. I waited for a full year before I got help and was placed back on meds.

        I am still on them and they help in conjunction to going back to work. My daughter is 2 years old and still breast feeds, can you believe it? LOL I don’t mind it at all, but many women I’ve spoken to that might have PPD couldn’t handle it at all. They hated breastfeeding and being close to their child. 😦 I never experienced that, thank God. You are also an amazing survivor and so glad that you write about your experiences with mental health.

        It’s such an important topic and more people need to come out of the “mental health closet” and share. If we can help others and get a dialogue going, we know that we’re not alone. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for replying back. I appreciate it greatly. I admire you being able to breast feed so long. I was not very good at it as it hurt too much for me for some reason. I think that PPD many times ends but continues on for most as depression… But not always. Mental illness of all types varies so much for everyone. Must be be one of the many reasons why it is so very difficult to treat. Thanks again for replying. Hugs. ❤❤❤. Sue

        Liked by 1 person

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