The word depression conjures up an array of negative opinions and thoughts. However, the simple fact is that depression is an accumulation of negative feelings. These feelings are experienced by most humans in the course of their lives. The difference is that, in most cases, the feelings are simply part of the ups and downs of daily life. When dealing with any type of depression the negative feelings seem to be overwhelming and long-lasting.
Experts say you can’t appreciate the highs if you don’t experience the lows. However, Post-Partum depression is more than just a low. It’s a medically recognized condition that needs to be dealt with.
Most Mothers Experience Postpartum Depression
What may surprise you is that most mothers actually experience postpartum depression. It usually starts a few days after giving birth and lasts for two to three weeks. This type of depression is generally referred to as the baby blues.
It’s directly related to hormonal changes. After the hormonal boost and euphoria of giving birth, the pregnancy-related hormones stop being produced. This, and the knowledge that the new mother now has a baby to look after, can make them concerned and anxious. After all, it’s a large responsibility and a huge lifestyle change.
The result is sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings, and sudden spells of crying for no apparent reason.
However, after a few weeks, these symptoms subside and life continues.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all parents. If the feelings of anxiety and sleeplessness continue then the new mother is likely to be suffering from postpartum depression. At this point, it’s essential that new mothers visit a reputable obstetrician Sydney and tell them about the issues. It will help them to get the treatment and support they need to deal with the problem.
Unfortunately, despite this condition affecting approximately 20% of mothers, there is still a stigma attached to it. New mothers fear they will be seen as unable to cope, their issues will be overlooked, and that their new baby may even be taken away. This is a sad state of affairs when the new mother simply needs some support and understanding to help them through a difficult patch.
New mothers need to feel safe talking about their issues and recognize that postpartum depression is a real condition that can be resolved with treatment. That’s why expecting mums, dads, and the general public should be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression. This will help it to be accepted and for those who need help to get it.
It should be noted, the early the treatment the easier it is to deal with the issue and allow you to bond with your baby.
Everyone experiences mood swings but when you’re suffering from postpartum depression the swings are sudden and severe. You can move from contentment and happiness to being completely depressed in seconds. Equally, depression can seem impossible to overcome, no matter how positive you try to make your thoughts.
It’s the sustained feeling of depression that can make it difficult to deal with everyday tasks.
Being anxious about looking after a new baby is normal. After all, it’s a big change in your lifestyle and everyone needs time to adjust. But, when you start to be anxious about everything in your life, including things that are unaffected by the baby and shouldn’t be any different after the birth, you have a bigger problem.
This is a sign of postpartum depression. The feeling of anxiety in all situations can make it very difficult to live a normal life.
Anxiety is also like to make you worry that you won’t be a good mother, that you’re not adequate or capable of being a mother, and that everything is hopeless.
One of the biggest differences between the baby blues and postpartum depression is harmful thoughts. When suffering from postpartum depression you are likely to think about harming yourself or your baby.
This doesn’t mean you’re actually going to harm the baby but it does illustrate you have an issue that you need help with.
In some cases, this can lead to thoughts of death or suicide.
Sadness & Excessive Crying
Depression means feeling sad and perhaps crying for no reason. Having postpartum depression means you feel sad all the time and can struggle to stop crying. This symptom can be particularly hard to deal with as you’ll want to stop crying but feel unable to do so. At the same time, it can be difficult for your partner to deal with as they may feel powerless to help.
The feeling of Being Overwhelmed
A consequence of depression is that you feel unable to return to normal life. The weight of the depression, your new responsibilities, and the concern over talking about your issues can make it seem like there is no way forward.
This is often an overwhelming process. The more overwhelmed you feel the harder it will be to find a path out of the depression by yourself, compounding the issue.
New mothers, and fathers, will suffer from less sleep than normal. The baby needs to be fed through the night and may wake up for a variety of reasons. Even when parents take it in turn your sleep will be disrupted.
But, if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep then you probably have postpartum depression. Most new parents crave the opportunity to catch a few minutes of sleep, if you’re unable to do this it’s the depression and anxiety preventing it.
Getting help quickly is important as sleep is an essential part of a healthy life.
Lack of Ability To Concentrate
When you have postpartum depression your thoughts will be dwelling on concerns, worries, your baby, how you appear to others, and hundreds of other matters. In other words, there will be so many other things going through your brain that you’ll struggle to focus or concentrate on any one thing for an extended period of time.
This lack of concentration and focus may make it difficult to complete tasks that would usually be straightforward.
Feeling irritable is normal after giving birth. Your hormones have changed, you’re getting less sleep and you have an array of new responsibilities to deal with. But, when you are constantly irritable and get annoyed at the simplest of things, you are likely to be showing symptoms of postpartum depression.
Reduced Interest In Food
Food is an essential part of life and, although you’re no longer feeding for two, you still need to eat. In fact, your taste buds may have changed during pregnancy, making it a relief for them to return to normal.
Unfortunately, if you’re suffering from postpartum depression you’ll have lost interest in food and will struggle to eat anything. That is obviously harmful to you and your baby if you’re breastfeeding.
In rare cases, postpartum depression is complemented by postpartum psychosis. This usually starts to display symptoms in the first week after the baby is born.
The most common signs of this issue are:
- Attempts to harm your baby
- Obsessing about your baby
- Increased energy levels
- Excessive anxiety
- Easily agitated
Postpartum psychosis is a more serious condition that is thankfully rare. But, if you have these symptoms you need immediate help.
Men Can Get It Too!
You may be surprised to learn that postpartum depression isn’t just a female condition. Although it is mainly diagnosed in women it is possible for me to have the condition.
While men haven’t gone through the delivery process or the hormonal changes, they can experience the same feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, and an inability to cope. This can lead to depression and even harmful thoughts.
Fathers experiencing postpartum depression need the same level of care and treatment as mothers.
Treating Postpartum Depression
This type of depression can last for months or even years, the key to resolving the issue is to get it diagnosed and get help as soon as possible.
The first sign is usually depression continuing after the first couple of weeks. At this point, it is highly likely that you have postpartum depression and need to seek professional help.
Of course, if you have suicidal thoughts it’s important to see a doctor straight away. It is best not to wait in the hope that the thoughts will simply pass.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above and they continue past two weeks after the birth, you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Most importantly, you need to be ready to talk about your feelings. This can be hard. But, you should remember that your conversations with a doctor are confidential.
This means you can speak without fear of reprisal and get the help you need to offer your child the best support and be the best mother, you can be.
By Jesse Huges