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When a baby comes into a person’s life, it triggers a lot of emotions for them as a mother. These include joy, excitement, anxiety, as well as fear. Beside these emotions, the birth of your baby may also lead to very negative feelings – a phenomenon known as baby blues or even postpartum depression. What’s the difference? What are the postpartum depression symptoms? Well, read on.
Baby blues usually afflict new moms and often starts within the first two to three days after delivery, generally lasting for up to 2 -3 weeks. Some moms experience a more long-lasting and severe form of depression; this is an extreme mood disorder that requires treatment and proper care.
Postnatal or postpartum depression is a complex mix of behavioral, emotional, and physical changes associated with having a baby. The diagnosis of depression after childbirth is based not only on the time period between delivery and onset, but also the severity of the depression.
Almost every new mother suffers from baby blues. This does not require medication and normally subsides with education and support. However, follow up is essential because around 20% of these mothers are prone to progressing from baby blues to postpartum depression, an adverse consequence which can affect the cognitive growth of the child.
It’s impossible to know the exact reason behind postnatal depression, but several factors such as relationship conflicts, economic conditions, sociocultural factors, and hormonal changes may be associated.
The early identification of baby blues will allow the healthcare practitioner to prevent it from developing into postpartum depression. The symptoms of baby blues are:
At first, postpartum depression can be mistaken for baby blues. However, if the symptoms and signs last longer, are more intense, and interfere with your ability to take care of yourself, your baby, and handle day-to-day tasks, then it may be postpartum depression. Usually symptoms develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but it may begin earlier or later in some mothers. For example, this could be during pregnancy and up to a year after birth.
(Read about postpartum depression for males here)
There are a lot of causes for postpartum depression. However, emotional and physical problems play a vital role in triggering depression:
There are numerous factors that elevate the risk of postnatal depression and make signs evident. These include:
Mostly, depression affects around 10% to 20% of mothers within the first year after giving birth. However, just 50% of women who experience major postpartum depression symptoms are diagnosed with the condition. One of the most useful screening tools used extensively in the medical field to diagnose postpartum depression is The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).
It is a 10-item questionnaire that helps in assessing the mental condition of a woman. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is available in roughly all languages. If you score ten or greater than ten on this scale, or get an affirmative answer of the questions concerning suicidal thoughts, it suggests that you are suffering from postpartum depression.
Both the treatment and the recovery time depends on the severity of the depression and the patient’s individual needs. If, say, your thyroid is underactive or you have an underlying disease, your doctor will pay attention to such a health condition so that the root causes can be catered to. You may be required to see an appropriate specialist to treat your mental and physical problems as a whole.
Seeking professional help is always the best course of treatment for the management of postpartum depression. But to help make it easier for you and your new baby there are certain things you can incorporate in your treatment plan to help have a speedier recovery.
Even something as simple as taking a walk with your baby can be a great addition to your daily routine. If walking is not something you enjoy, you can partake in any other form of physical exercise. Apart from that try to take adequate rest, eat healthy and avoid alcohol.
You need to understand that things cannot be the same as they were before the new baby. So, do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself to run the perfect household. Do what you can and do not fret about the rest.
It is important that you make some time for yourself as well. This means that you need to either ask your partner to take care of the baby or arrange for a babysitter to do so. Take this free time to do something that makes you happy. It can be a hobby you enjoy or even just some time with your friends, family or partner.
When the feelings of postpartum depression do come in, it can get a little scary to figure them out. The important thing to do at this point is to talk to as many people as you can. Reach out to other mothers who have experienced something similar.
Reach out. If people offer to babysit, take them up on the offer. It can often be tough to detach yourself from your baby but you need to understand that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of the baby.
Postpartum blues or baby blues generally fade with time – maybe within one to two weeks. During the early postpartum period you should:
The treatment of postnatal depression symptoms begin with psychotherapy (counseling mental health or talk therapy), medication, or using both the options.
It is important to be prepared when you make your way to the doctor’s for the treatment and management of your postpartum depression. Chances are that at the end of your appointment, your doctor will refer you to a mental health profession for a better understanding of the problem at hand.
With proper treatment, in time, postpartum depression symptoms can be improved. If left untreated, the depression can be further aggravated and become chronic depression. Therefore, it is essential that you treat the condition appropriately and effectively; do not stop until you get the desired results.
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