Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression is a severe form of depression that affects 10-20% of new mothers and at times new fathers after the birth of their baby. It may not easily pass, and in some cases medical intervention may be necessary. It can normally be diagnosed as early as one month postpartum, after the baby blues should have faded. A woman’s doctor or midwife can prescribe medications if needed.
Causes of PPD
Not all causes of postpartum depression have been identified but there are some ideas and known facts in the medically community. Postpartum depression might be caused by the following things:
- Anti-natal depression
- Low self esteem
- Childcare stress
- Prenatal anxiety
- Life stress
- Low social support
- Poor marital relationship
- History of previous depression
- Infant temperament problems/colic
- Maternity blues
- Single parent
- Low socioeconomic status
- Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
There are other factors that may cause women to have postpartum depression. In many ways it is one of those situations where it is different for every woman.
Symptoms of PPD
Like the causes, the symptoms of postpartum depression vary widely. Some include:
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Persistent weepiness or sadness
These are similar to the symptoms of the baby blues, however they are much more intense when connected to postpartum depression. If a woman feels these symptoms strongly after her baby is born she should visit her doctor to see if he can help.
Extra severe cases of postpartum depression can be referred to as postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is very rare occurring in just 0.1-0.2% of women who have recently had a baby. Postpartum psychosis includes all of the severe symptoms of postpartum depression, but it can also often include the mother having hallucinations and delusions.
The good news is that there is treatment available for postpartum depression and even postpartum psychosis. There are medicine’s that can be prescribed, including medicine that is safe for breastfeeding women to use. Your doctor might also recommend counseling. If postpartum psychosis is diagnosed within the first couple of days it is often possible to reverse the effects within a few weeks with medicine vs. it taking several months to cure, even with medication, if not diagnosed right away.
If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression it is important to remember that you are not alone and that there is help out there. Be sure to make an appointment with your doctor to get help.
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