At Garden OB/GYN, we believe that women’s wellness is not just physical, but also emotional and mental. With the increasing incidences of mental health issues occurring in our society, we believe it is important to bring awareness to certain emotional, mental and behavioral conditions that are very much related to the changes women may experience in their bodies.
After giving birth, many women experience a mood disorder known as Postpartum depression or PPD. When PPD exists, the woman has strong feelings of sadness and anxiety, which hinder her daily activities and ability to care for herself and family. This form of major depression emerges within four weeks after giving birth. Most women feel mild depression or “baby blues" following delivery, however about 1 out of every 10 new mothers experience this more severe, persisting depression, known as PPD.
The exact mechanism behind the condition is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a consequence of many factors, including the dynamic physical, emotional and behavioral changes that a woman experiences following childbirth. Following birth, drastic hormonal changes occur in a mother’s body. Specifically estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones that gradually increased ten-fold over the course of the pregnancy, drop suddenly back to normal levels following delivery. These sudden hormonal changes, along with the psychological changes related to being responsible for a newborn baby, are believed to be associated with PPD. These changes can initiate chemical changes in the brain that lead to mood swings.
Treatment & Symptoms
The good news is that PPD can be treated with counseling, support groups, and sometimes anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. It is important that a healthcare provider is consulted is post-pregnancy depression emerges as only a medical professional can diagnose Postpartum depression. It is also important that appropriate treatment is engaged in as soon as possible if a new mother is showing signs of postpartum depression. This is because symptoms can not only feel difficult for the mother to experience, but may also feel unbearable and have detrimental consequences, if symptoms are severe. If you or a loved one is experiencing the following symptoms after delivery, it is highly encouraged to get treatment immediately. Your OB/GYN Provider or Mental Health Professional can be a helpful resource for finding the best course of treatment.
- Moderate symptoms of PPD (these may be similar to typical post-childbirth sentiments)
- Sleeping issues
- Appetite changes
- Extreme fatigue
- Decreased sexual drive/Libido
- Mood changes.
- However, severe symptoms which are not normal after delivery include
- Thoughts of suicide, death or hurting others.
- History of depression before/during pregnancy or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Age during pregnancy (higher risk in younger mothers)
- Number of children (the more children you have, the higher your risk of developing PPD; PPD can occur after the birth of any one of your children)
- Limited Social Support
- Living Alone
- Marital Conflict
Degrees Of Postpartum Depression
- “Baby Blues”
- Normalcy: Common; most women experience immediately after childbirth
- Symptoms: mood swings, inexplicable crying, impatient, irritation, restless, anxious, lonely, sad
- Duration: Few hours, up to 1-2weeks post-delivery
- Treatment: Support group or social support; Medical treatment/consultation usually not needed
- Post Partum Depression
- Normalcy: Occurs in 1 in 10 women following childbirth
- Symptoms: Similar symptoms to “Baby Blues” but they are more intense, inhibits/hinders daily functioning
- Duration: Few days to months after childbirth; onset typically occurs within first 4 weeks post-delivery
- Treatment: Consultation by her OB/GYN is needed and/or a Mental Health Care Professional; Counseling and sometimes medication
- Post Partum Psychosis
- Normalcy: 1 in 1000 women develop this serious condition
- Symptoms: Lost touch with reality, auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, agitation, anger, pacing, restlessness, strange feelings/behaviors
- Duration: Onset occurs quickly, within the first 3 months post-delivery
- Treatment: Medication and sometimes hospitalizations; Care by a healthcare profession is necessary