Having a baby brings bundles of joy and excitement to more than just the parents of a child. Even stranger will coo and maybe even grasp at the feet or hands of your little one as they coddle over your precious newborn.
Yet, in the midst of all this delight, some women do experience postpartum disorders that affect their mental health. Often referenced as “baby blues” or PPD, post-partum depression and similar mood swings can take place as the hormones attempt to regulate to your new environment and responsibilities.
From physical demands like sleep deprivation and nursing to emotional demands like a mother’s guilt and perpetual states of worry, there isn’t any shame in sharing your mental health concerns with a professional.
Beyond PPD, there are also conditions known as birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as, a serious but rare condition called postpartum psychosis.
Clinical depression occurs in approximately 15 to 25 percent of the population, and women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. What’s more, women are more inclined to experience depression during the ages of 25-45, making this demographic more susceptible to depression during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Postpartum or baby blues are not uncommon at all. In fact, up to 80 percent of new mothers express issues with mood swings and an overall feeling of “blues” post-delivery. Studies have shown that women report postpartum symptoms arriving within the first week of postpartum delivery. Ideally, they will decrease within the first two weeks as hormones begin to regulate. If they do not subside, it may be sign that there is something more serious taking place.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a major form of depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue. It can begin any time after delivery and can last up to a year. PPD is estimated to affect approximately 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.
Symptoms of PPD can range from an almost-obsessive and extreme fixation with the child’s health to disturbing thoughts of injuring the baby. As caring for a newborn can be incredibly stressful, it is common for new moms to deal with fatigue, irritability and fret.
There are options for treatment including prescription medications (like antidepressants) as well as therapeutic options like one-on-one counseling or group sessions with other new mothers.
As mentioned above, however slight, there are unique cases where women may experience postpartum psychosis (PPP). This only affects about 1/10th of 1% of new mothers. Within 2-3 weeks post delivery, women suffering from PPP can experience hallucinations and delusions, while also struggling with the ability to settle or eat.
When a mother is dealing with PPP, it is safest for her to be hospitalized until proven she is no longer a threat to herself or her child. Those who are diagnosed with PPP have a much greater likelihood of experiencing it again with additional pregnancies and childbirth.
If you or someone you know may be dealing with any of the above conditions, be sure to discuss as soon as possible with your healthcare provider. There isn’t any shame whatsoever in acknowledging how pregnancy and post partum hormones are affecting your quality of life. Have more helpful feedback? Comment below!