Post-partum Depression Is Severe Depression In A Woman After She Has Given Birth

A moderate to severe depression in women after giving birth is termed postpartum depression. This depression can occur in a woman soon after the delivery or up to a year later. Usually, it occurs within the first four weeks after delivery. During pregnancy, a woman suffers from mood changes due to changes in the hormone levels. As having a baby leads to several changes in one's lifestyle, certain mood changes are quite normal and expected. Most women suffer from depression for a short period of time in the first few weeks of pregnancy. One feels irritated, anxious, tearful and restless. This goes away without any treatment.

It is postpartum depression which is a more serious condition. This can affect eight to 20 per cent women after they deliver a baby. The causes that lead to it can be varied: becoming pregnant before reaching the age of 20, due to alcohol or drug abuse, not planning for or wanting the pregnancy, suffering from a mood anxiety disorder before becoming pregnant, due to stress, poor relationship, financial problems, and disturbed childhood. Postpartum depression needs treatment.



The symptoms of post partum depression are the same as in any other depression. Apart from feeling sad nearly every day, one feels agitated or irritated. Appetite gets reduced, it becomes difficult to concentrate, a feeling of worthlessness sets in. Apart from experiencing loss of energy, one feels socially isolated. The woman starts having trouble with sleeping. Suicidal tendencies develop along with the development of a negative feeling towards the baby.

No single test can diagnose postpartum depression. A doctor may need to ask many questions so as to find the exact signs of mood problems. Postpartum depression can also be due to certain medical conditions like hypothyroidism. The hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease sharply after childbirth. This and the tension before a menstrual period can trigger a mood swing. The feeling of tiredness after a delivery can also cause depression. New mothers seldom get the required amount of rest. Fatigue and lack of sleep for months can invariably lead to mood swings.

A premature baby and a sense of loss of many things like freedom, identity, figure and sex appeal are also major causes for depression. The treatment includes medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Several types of antidepressants like nortriptyline, paroxetine and sertraline can be given to breastfeeding mothers. Postpartum depression needs to be monitored for at least six months. Treatment though professional counseling helps to reduce or eliminate most symptoms.

A good social support from family, friends and colleagues can help to reduce the depression. If left untreated, this kind of depression can last for months or years. The risk of trying to commit suicide or hurting the baby gets increased. Postpartum depression is not related to the number of children a woman has. Some mothers can develop a severe mental illness called postpartum psychosis. Those who have had manic depression or bipolar disorder or are schizophrenic are more vulnerable to this. A woman who can cope with the demand and stress of everyday life can also fall prey to postpartum depression.