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Postpartum Depression: Symptoms and Treatment

Up to 70% of women who give birth suffer from feelings of sadness after they have delivered. This is referred to as “Postpartum Blues”. Postpartum Blues last for 1to 10 days after giving birth and is said to be caused by the hormonal changes that a woman’s body undergoes. These feelings are considered to be a normal part of the postpartum stage. But, if intensify and last longer than 2 weeks, then a woman may be a candidate for being diagnosed as having Postpartum Depression.

Definition and Cause

Postpartum depression is defined as the state of depression that a woman enters after she has given birth. It is said to affect up to 10% of all pregnant women and is said to be caused by the traumatic event of giving birth. It is also said to be caused by the sudden drop and changes in hormone levels. Women who have suffered depression prior to pregnancy are also highly susceptible to developing postpartum depression once their baby is born.

It can also be caused by low self esteem and inadequate support system. Problems in the marriage or with the relationship of the mother and the father can also result in postpartum depression. This condition is often hard to diagnose because some women try to mask their true emotions because they feel ashamed about the unwanted feeling she has towards her new baby.

Signs and Symptoms

Postpartum Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, inadequacy, low self esteem. It is also characterized by extreme fatigue, inability to control crying, anxiety about hers and her baby’s health, feelings of negativity towards the infant to the extent of refusing to hold and feed the newborn and other depressive behavior. 

The condition can also manifest physically and the woman may suffer from symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. She can also shift between elation and depression from time to time. Family members must be wary of these symptoms and attempt to seek help for the woman involved as soon as they suspect postpartum depression.

Treatment


Although it has been controversially suggested that women use nothing but vitamins to cure their postpartum depression, it is certainly not so. Although the vitamin supplement may help the physical health of the woman, she still needs the proper treatment. Anti-depressant medications are often prescribed for women who are suffering from this disorder. The drugs should be coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

She should also undergo several therapy sessions in order for her to be able to voice out her deep seated issues and to help her integrate and accept her new infant into her current life. Group therapy may also be helpful as well as the recognition of a family support systems for her.

Postpartum depression is not to be confused with postpartum psychosis. Psychosis is a complete loss of touch with the real world. In this case the woman may start experiencing hallucinations, delusions, and may be deemed capable of hurting herself and others. Like Postpartum Blues and Postpartum Depression, it may also be caused by the hormonal changes a woman’s body undergoes.

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