Understanding postpartum depression

Understanding Postpartum Depression

           Postpartum Depression (PPD): depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood and fatigue. There are varied forms of PPD that range from moderate to severe, these include: Baby Blues, Postpartum Major Depression, and Postpartum Psychosis.

          Baby Blues is the mild version of PPD, mother’s suffering from Baby Blues will most likely not have to be medicated unless the Baby Blues transforms into Postpartum Major Depression or Postpartum Psychosis. Baby Blues effects 30-80% of new mothers and will begin 3-10 days after childbirth and will usually end within two weeks. The exact cause of the Baby Blues is unknown but the changes a woman’s body goes through after childbirth and the hormones racing throughout her entire body is thought to be related to the cause. The hormonal changes may produce chemical changes in the brain resulting in depression. The symptoms which occur with Baby Blues include mood swings, crying spells, insomnia, and irritability. The treatments said to help mother’s cope with the Baby Blues includes, ask for help from friends, family and your partner, engage in light exercise each day, and visit the birth center for information on new mother’s groups. Help a mother suffering from Baby Blues by reassuring her it is okay to have the feelings she has, be there to listen any way you can, and give her permission to take care of herself even if that is taking a few minutes away for a shower.

         Unlike the Baby Blues, Postpartum Major Depression is more serious and should be diagnosed by a doctor. Postpartum Major Depression can disguise itself as Baby Blues and they actually share many of the same symptoms: mood swings, crying spells, insomnia, and irritability. The main difference between the two is the severity of the symptoms and the duration. Mothers suffering from this form of depression may experience suicidal thoughts, inability to care for her newborn, and withdrawing from her partner. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a tool doctors use to detect the level of PPD the mother is battling. A score of over 13 suggests the need for a more thorough assessment to accurately diagnose. Postpartum Major Depression makes it very difficult for mothers to interact with their baby and most mothers suffering from PPD will not breastfeed their child and will be inconsistent with the way they care for their newborn. PPD can last up to a year after the birth of the baby and in some cases mothers have felt depressed up to three years after giving birth. Teen mothers and Mothers who have miscarried/had a stillbirth are at increased risk of developing PPD. Treatment for PPD varies from woman to woman however there is Professional Treatment and things mothers can do from home that can aid in her recovery. It is important for mother’s suffering from PPD to reach out to someone and ask for help whether that be your partner, family members, or a trusted medical professional.

          Postpartum Psychosis is very rare and extremely dangerous disorder and is characterized by loss of contact with reality. Postpartum Psychosis effects .2% of mothers after child birth and comes on suddenly within two weeks after birth. The symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis are hallucinations, delusional thoughts, rapid mood swings, paranoia, and the inability to sleep. There is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infant mortality rate. Women experiencing Postpartum Psychosis experience a break from reality which causes them to do things irrationally. Delusions can take many different forms and not all of them are destructive, in fact most mothers experiencing Postpartum Psychosis do not harm themselves or anyone else. Women battling this illness must be quickly assessed, treated, and carefully monitored by a medical professional for the safety of the mother and her child. Women not in an emergency situation are urged to contact Michele Davidson (703-729-4462, michelerdavisdon@gmail.com) who is a Postpartum Psychosis Coordinator and can provide resources to new mothers experiencing the early warning signs of Postpartum Psychosis. There is also an emergency crisis hotline (1-800-279-8255) which is available 24/7 for suicidal mothers to speak to a counselor.

         PPD and its many forms is a debilitating disease effecting new mother’s every single day around the world. Being such a taboo topic most mothers find it hard to reach out in fear of failing themselves and their baby. As we grow the ARB Foundation, our mission reaches new individuals every single day and we cannot let one form of depression slip through the cracks. From Baby Blues to Postpartum Psychosis the ARB Foundation will be an outlet to new mothers to find resources and be a shoulder to cry on whenever the mother is in need. Our purpose is to help and restore individual’s lives who battle depression every single day. Depression is a disease that can be fought with proper help and medical professionals.

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