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Postpartum Depression

Published on Mar 25, 2019 and last reviewed on Mar 10, 2023   -  5 min read


Postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression is a kind of depression that affects a new mother. 80 % of all new moms experience baby blues, but if the symptoms are severe and it starts affecting your ability to care for your baby, then it is a sign of postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression is a kind of depression that affects a new mother. 80 % of all new moms experience baby blues, but if the symptoms are severe and it starts affecting your ability to care for your baby, then it is a sign of postpartum depression. The symptoms usually start within the first week of giving birth, but some women show signs during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth.

It is normal to have mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and sleep problems in the first few weeks after delivery, but if you are depressed for a longer time, then prompt treatment is needed. Early identification and treatment of such depression will help manage the symptoms and help the mother bond with her baby better. It is a psychological illness that can be effectively treated with the help of medications and counseling.

Is Postpartum Depression Common?

It is a very common problem, and 1 in 9 new mothers suffer from this depression.

What is Baby Blues and What are its Symptoms?

The symptoms of baby blues last only for a couple of days to weeks after childbirth. These symptoms include.

  • Feeling sad.
  • Feeling worried.
  • Crying.
  • Reduced concentration.
  • Sleep troubles.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood swings.

What are the Causes of Postpartum Depression?

Physical and emotional causes seem to play a role in PPD. These factors are:

Physical Factors

The sudden drop of hormones estrogen and progesterone after childbirth.

  • Low levels of thyroid hormone.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • No free time.
  • Underlying medical condition.
  • Tiredness after labor and delivery.

Emotional Factors

  • Doubting their ability to be a good mother.
  • Feeling less attractive.
  • Stress due to changes in daily routine.
  • Financial Burdens.
  • No family support.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

If not detected early and treated, symptoms of PPD might last for many months or longer. Some of the commonly seen symptoms are:

  • Severe mood swings.
  • Restlessness.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Eating more or less.
  • Increased or decreased sleep.
  • Problems bonding with the baby.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Feeling of being a bad mother.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thoughts of harming the baby.

Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression

The risk of PPD increases with the following conditions:

  • History of depression.
  • PPD in the past pregnancies.
  • History of bipolar disorder.
  • Family history of depression or other psychological disorders.
  • Having a special needs baby.
  • Stressful events during the last year.
  • Having twins or triplets.
  • Financial problems.
  • No family support.
  • Relationship problems.

How is PPD Diagnosed?

Seek medical help if you feel

  • that your symptoms are lasting for more than a couple of weeks.
  • that the symptoms are getting worse.
  • that it is getting hard to care for your baby.
  • that it is interfering with your daily activity.
  • or if you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming your baby.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose the condition after talking to you about your feelings and thoughts and evaluating your overall mental health. He or she might tell you to fill a questionnaire, which is part of the depression screening. Blood test might be required to check the levels of thyroid and to rule out other conditions that might cause depression.

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a rare psychological disorder that develops after a few weeks after delivery. These symptoms lead to life-threatening thoughts and behavior, thus early recognition of this condition is crucial. The signs and symptoms are:

  • Disorientation.
  • Confusion.
  • Agitation.
  • Paranoia.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Attempts to harm the baby.

What to do if you have Baby Blues?

If you feel you are suffering from baby blues, try the following things:

  • Rest as much as you can.
  • Get help and support from friends and family.
  • Talk to other new mothers.
  • Avoid taking alcohol.
  • Spend time on yourself.

Your symptoms might go away within 2 weeks, if not, then it might be postpartum depression.

How is Postpartum Depression Treated?

Usually, PPD is treated with the help of psychotherapy or antidepressants or a combination of both. The following antidepressants are used:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Atypical antidepressants.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

Sometimes, hormone therapy is given if the estrogen levels are very low.

Home Remedies for Postpartum Depression:

  • Go for a walk with your baby.
  • Get as much rest as you can.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol.
  • Do not isolate yourself.
  • If you see symptoms, do not be ashamed and try to hide it. Get help as soon as possible.
  • Join a support group.
  • Get help to take care of the baby.

How is Postpartum Psychosis Managed?

Postpartum psychosis is treated in the hospital with the help of drugs like antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and benzodiazepines. In severe cases, ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), which is a procedure where small electrical currents are passed through the brain to trigger brief seizures, is used. This causes changes in brain chemistry and reduces the symptoms of psychosis.

Is PPD seen in Fathers?

Yes, PPD can be seen in fathers too, and it is called paternal postpartum depression. They have the same symptoms as mothers. Young fathers or fathers who have a relationship and financial problems are at risk. Treatment is the same as that for mothers.

PPD is a very common condition seen after childbirth. It creates negative thoughts and feelings about yourself, people around you, your situation, and also your future. With proper care and treatment, this can be changed. If you want to know more about postpartum depression and how it can affect your life, consult a psychiatrist online.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Causes of Postpartum Depression?

There are varied causes of postpartum depression. The most significant among the list is the immediate decrease in many hormones. This occurs in a woman following childbirth. Other causes are:
- Depression during pregnancy.
- Previous history of depression.
- Family history of mood disorders.
- Complications during pregnancy.


How Can You Prevent Postpartum Depression?

The preventive measures that can be taken to prevent postpartum depression are as follows:
- Joining support groups that involve new mothers.
- Exercise.
- Patient education.
- Seeking support from maternal and baby related health care providers.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

The duration of postpartum depression varies from one person to another. The regulation of hormones might differ from one person to another. The symptoms of postpartum depression last from a range of periods between six months to one year. In rare cases, it exceeds more than a year. If your depressive state lasts for a longer duration, you should consult your physician immediately.


What Is the Difference Between Postpartum and Postnatal?

Postnatal depression is usually referred to as “BABY BLUES,” which is a depression that begins in childbirth but does not last more than two weeks, but postpartum depression extends to a longer period than postnatal. It might be for about six months to one year.


How Long Can a Woman Have Postpartum?

It is not that all the women have postpartum depression. Postpartum is usually referred to as the period a mother takes to recover from childbirth, which is usually said to be 48 days from the date of childbirth. If it is for a short period of time, it is not that harmful. If it exists for a prolonged duration, then you should consult your doctor.


How Do You Take Care of Postpartum?

The important tips in taking care of a mother undergoing postpartum period are as follows:
- Adequate rest.
- Good care of the wound should be ensured. This is done to prevent
- infections if it was a C-section.
- Good nutritious food.
- Get some good sunlight exposure.
- Try to sleep whenever the baby sleeps.
- If any abnormal or uncomfortable symptoms are seen, rush to the doctor.


How Do I Get Rid of Postpartum Hemorrhoids?

Consulting the health care provider is important. The most common solution would be corticosteroids like Hydrocortisone. It is necessary to soak the anal region with warm water. Consuming stool softeners and smoothies to prevent pain during defecation is also helpful. High fiber diet and increased hydration are also essential.


What Do Postpartum Hemorrhoids Feel Like?

Postpartum hemorrhoids are more common with women who underwent vaginal delivery. The symptoms seen in women are rectal itching, pain on defecation, a swelling near the anus, and severe fresh red bleeding after defecation.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Postpartum depression usually resolves by itself with good care and treatment. It might take six months to one year. But if left untreated, it might even prolong to so many years. So, adequate medical care and patient education are important.


How Common Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum hemorrhage is very common, about 10% of new mothers face postpartum depression. Even the condition is very common still, patient education and awareness are less common, which is very important to reduce the prevalence of the condition. If you feel hard to cope up with it, you should visit your doctor.


How to Help Someone With Postpartum Depression?

Being supportive and understanding is one of the major ways that will help a postpartum mother overcome her depression. If symptoms progress and are affecting the mom, informing the health care provider for essential treatment is warranted.


When Can Postpartum Depression Start?

If symptoms of depression even continue after two weeks on a daily basis and are persistent, it confirms the diagnosis of postpartum depression. It might even start during pregnancy, but diagnosis can be confirmed only after the second week of childbirth.


How to Overcome Postpartum Depression?

Adequate medical treatment, counseling, nutritious food, good rest, and the support of family and loved ones are the different ways to overcome postpartum depression. Psychotherapy and talk therapy might help.


How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last If Untreated?

With poor or no medical treatment, postpartum depression might even prolong up to many years that might even affect the health and development of the baby due to the poor psychosocial bonding between mother and baby.


How Late Can Postpartum Depression Start?

Postpartum depression might start anywhere from the second week to the twelfth week. However, there is no accurate time about how soon it might resolve. It might be different for each mother. But once it occurs, the changes might be notable for the family members.


How to Deal With Postpartum Depression Without Medication?

Natural remedies might be used to treat postpartum depression-like as follows:
- Vitamin foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, salmon can be consumed.
- Herbal supplements.

Last reviewed at:
10 Mar 2023  -  5 min read




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