Postpartum depression (PPD), also known as Postnatal depression (PND), is a type of depression that affects some women after having a baby. Typically, it develops within four to six weeks after giving birth, but it can sometimes take several months to appear. Researchers from Northwestern Medicine reported in JAMA Psychiatry that postpartum depression affects 1 in every 7 new mothers.
PPD may appear as the baby blues at first, but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, often interfering with the ability to care for your baby and manage other daily tasks.
Symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in actives you used to enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Persistent feeling of fatigue
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Headaches, stomach aches or backaches
- Irritability or hypersensitivity
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
Experts believe that there is no single cause of postpartum depression but possibly a result of multiple factors. Researchers suggest that emotional and stressful events may contribute as well as the possibility of biological factors, which leads to an imbalance of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).
The following potentially stressful events have been linked to the contribution of Postpartum Depression:
- Perinatal depression
- Complications or a difficult labour and childbirth
- Lack of family support & loneliness
- Excessive worry about the baby and the responsibilities of being a parent
- Life adjustments
- A history of depression or previous postpartum depression
- A history of difficulty regulating emotions
- Lack of sleep
- Breastfeeding difficulties
Left untreated, postpartum depression can interfere with the health and of mother and child and their attachment bond.
Untreated postpartum depression increases a woman’s risk of future episodes of major depression. Research has also found that children of mothers who have untreated postpartum depression are more likely to have behavioural problems.
Acknowledgement of the problem is the first important step to recovery. Unfortunately, a barrier to accessing treatment can often be the fear of being judged which elicits shame and guilt. However, it is important to access treatment for support and recovery.
Psychological Therapy: Studies have found that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) has a success rate of between 50% to 70% for patients with moderate postpartum depression – a similar rate to medication. For those with severe depression, where motivation is low, talking therapies alone are much less effective. Interpersonal therapy is also an effective therapy for treating PDD. It is time limited and the main goal is symptom relief.
Antidepressants are a proven treatment for postpartum depression. If you’re breast-feeding, it’s important to know that any medication you take will enter your breast milk. The long-term risks for the baby are unclear currently. According to some small studies, TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants), such as imipramine and nortriptyline are most likely the safest to take while breastfeeding a baby. Work with your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants.
If you notice the symptoms of postpartum depression, don’t be afraid to seek support. It is important not to leave postpartum depression untreated.
If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and would like to book an appointment for therapy, you can contact the practice by telephone on 01 6859261 or book online by email or using the contact form on the website.
© The Consulting Clinic 2015