Excitation, joy, fear, and other strong emotions can all be brought on by the birth of a child. But it can also lead to depression, which you might not expect.
The day after my son was born, I woke up with a severe case of postpartum depression. The first thing that came into my mind was how I had not been prepared for this. My husband and I had not taken the time to prepare ourselves mentally or physically for parenthood along with Chinese confinement nanny. We were both young, in our twenties, and we thought we would have an easy pregnancy.
I was very surprised when I experienced extreme fatigue, mood swings, lack of interest in sex, a sense of hopelessness and despair. It took me about two weeks to realize what was happening. When I did, it felt like I was having a nervous breakdown. I tried everything from antidepressants to therapy to exercise. Nothing worked. Finally, a doctor told me that I had postpartum depression. He said that some women experience this as early as one month after giving birth, but most of them experience it between four to eight weeks.
I didn’t believe him. I knew it wasn’t possible that I could be depressed so soon after having a baby. So, I kept telling myself that he must have made a mistake. But then, I began to notice other mothers talking about their experiences. Their stories sounded just like mine — they had been diagnosed with postpartum depression at around three weeks post-birth. I became more concerned.
So, I decided to do some research on postpartum depression. I read articles about what triggers it, its symptoms, and treatment options. I found out that there is no cure for postpartum depression, but there are methods to manage it. I also learned that many women who suffer from this condition never recover from it. This is because the symptoms of postpartum depression can last long after childbirth. Some women may even experience them years later.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), postpartum depression affects approximately 15 million women each year worldwide. Women who give birth to their first child are twice as likely to develop postpartum depression than those who experience a subsequent delivery. Researchers have found that the risk increases if the mother has a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder before she conceives her first child.
Women who have given birth to one or more children are also more likely to get postpartum depression than women who have not. For example, studies conducted by University of North Carolina researchers showed that women who had undergone cesarean section deliveries were almost three times more likely to have postpartum depression than those who gave birth vaginally.
In addition, women who had not received adequate prenatal care were more likely to experience postpartum depression than those who had. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, women who had a high level of stress during pregnancy were also more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
There are five main types of postpartum depression:
– Depressed Mood –
Most people associate depression with feelings of sadness or unhappiness. However, postpartum depression causes women to feel “down” for reasons that are quite different from the usual sadness associated with depression. Many moms say that they feel anxious all the time. They feel tired and irritable. Others feel guilty for being unable to take care of themselves properly. There is also a loss of interest in activities that used to make them happy.
– Anhedonia –
Anhedonia is the inability to enjoy pleasures such as food, sex, music, art, sports, and physical activity. People suffering from anhedonia tend to feel apathetic, sad, and worthless.
– Lack of Interest –
Some women find that they feel indifferent toward people, places, things, and activities that used to be enjoyable.
– Suicidal Thoughts –
Women who suffer from postpartum depression tend to think about suicide frequently. The thoughts usually come out of nowhere. They don’t necessarily mean that the person wants to die. Instead, they mean that the women feel overwhelmed by life’s problems and feel that there is no way out of them.
– Loss of Weight and Appetite –
Women who suffer from postpartum depression often lose weight and have trouble maintaining their appetite.
If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. A good rule of thumb is to see your family physician immediately if you feel down, feel unusually tired, or feel that you need to talk to someone.
Treatment Options for Postpartum Depression
There are several medications and psychotherapy that can be used to treat postpartum depression. One of the best treatment options is antidepressant medication. These drugs can effectively reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression.
Antidepressants work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit messages between neurons. These chemicals are responsible for regulating sleep, energy, and mood. Antidepressant medication decreases the production of serotonin, which reduces anxiety and panic attacks. The drug also helps increase dopamine levels in the brain, thus reducing depression.
Other treatment options include counseling and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves talking to a mental health professional who specializes in treating patients with severe psychological issues. Counseling is especially helpful for moms who have low self-esteem, a tendency to blame others, or feelings of guilt or shame.
You should know that postpartum depression is nothing to laugh about. It can cause serious damage to your relationships and personal life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, seek medical attention immediately. You could end up losing the love of your life forever.