An Overview on Postpartum Depression

After giving birth, many women experience mood swings. They may feel happy at one moment, then sad the next moment. Some women may also lose their appetite, suffer problems sleeping, and may feel a little depression. But, these symptoms are often a result of the "baby blues" – a short-lasting condition that appears in 50-80% of women after childbirth. Fortunately, baby blues often disappear after 7-10 days and don't require the person to seek medical intervention. But if symptoms persist, women are advised to seek medical attention to check for postpartum depression.


What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression affects about 10-15 % of women after giving birth. The illness can strike women anytime from a month to a year after the birth of their child.

The symptoms associated with postpartum depression may include:


  • Restlessness
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Lack of Energy
  • Weight loss/ gain
  • Difficulties Sleeping

However, in more severe cases – less than 1% - women develop a condition called postpartum psychosis. Women with postpartum psychosis will suffer from recurring thoughts of hurting their baby or themselves, paranoia, frantic energy, and sleep disturbance. This rare condition requires hospitalization.


Causes of Postpartum Depression

Researchers are not certain what causes postpartum depression, but speculate that drastic changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and following childbirth may cause chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes result in postpartum depression. Also, some other factors that may contribute to the cause of postpartum depression include:


  • Ongoing Stress
  • List of new responsibilities taking care of the infant
  • Fatigue
  • Poor martial relationship

Luckily, postpartum depression is an illness that can be treated successfully with antidepressant medicines and/or talk therapy. If you suspect that someone you know may be suffering from postpartum depression, you should do your best to be understanding and show your support. Since new moms may fear the negative stigma associated with postpartum depression and may delay seeking medical attention.


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