Whether or not a woman plans on having a child or not, it’s important to understand what postpartum depression is and how it works. It can affect many women, including yourself and the women you care about. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding postpartum, which is why it’s imperative to know the facts from myth to better help the women who are affected by it.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Not to be confused with “mommy blues”, which can last two to three days, postpartum depression affects women who have just gone through childbirth and are experiencing an emotional emptiness longer than two weeks. This kind of depression can make it harder for mothers to care for their children and not feel connected to them. It should not be taken lightly and is a very serious mental illness that involves the brain, affects your behavior, and physical health. Whether mild or severe, postpartum depression affects one in nine new mothers.
The Causes of Postpartum Depression
The biggest trigger for postpartum may be hormonal changes. Levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest when a woman is pregnant. These hormone levels drop significantly back to normal within the first 24 hours of giving birth, which can lead to depression. Women who have a history of depression are also at risk for postpartum.
Symptoms to Be Aware Of
There are many symptoms a woman can display that are signs of postpartum depression. Although symptoms vary from one woman to another, common symptoms are sadness, loss of hope, despair, frequent crying, feeling unable to care for the baby, loss of ability to do basic chores, inability to bond with the baby, loss of memory, and trouble focusing. When a woman is showing the symptoms of postpartum, only a doctor is able to give a diagnosis.
When diagnosed with postpartum depression, there are two main treatment options available. The first is taking medication to cope with postpartum. Antidepressants directly affect the brain by altering the chemicals that regulate mood. A doctor may also suggest hormone therapy to help regulate estrogen levels. The second treatment option is going to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health professional for counseling. This option helps women suffering from postpartum depression make sense of toxic thoughts and give them the strategies they need to cope.