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Postpartum Mood Disorder, previously maintained as Postpartum Depression, can be devastating to a family in what would be one of the happiest times in their lives. 80% of women feel some sort of emotional disturbance, often called baby blues, after pregnancy due to hormones and the significant body changes that bounce back after birth, and baby blues seem to go away soon enough without the need of treatment. However, only 10-20% of those women deal with disabling form of depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression is defined by the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia as a moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. Postpartum Mood Disorder typically occurs between birth and 3 months, but as the body takes about a year to recover from a pregnancy and child birth, it can appear as late as one year after the birth.
Who is at risk for Postpartum Mood Disorders?
Those who are at serious risk for a Postpartum Mood Disorder include women who:
- Have children under the age of 20
- Abuse alcohol, use illegal drugs or smoke are at higher risk as well
- Are abused by their significant other
- Have feelings of having an unwanted or unsure pregnancy
- Have a history or anxiety or depression
- Have financial problems
This list is not limited to the only risk factors that postpartum mood disorders can play a role in. Fathers who feel stressed and overwhelmed due to the new addition in the family and responsibilities may also develop postpartum depression.
Symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorder
Symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders can be subtle and mild. If you feel like you or a loved one may have postpartum depression or another postpartum mood disorder, look out for these signs:
- Loss of appetite
- Agitation (irritability)
- Energy Loss
- Negative feelings toward your baby or self
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of concentration
- Inability to enjoy anything
There are other, more serious symptoms of postpartum mood disorders and should not be ignored at any cost. These symptoms include:
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Thoughts of wanting to hurt the newborn baby
- Significant anxiety that causes difficulty performing normal day to day tasks
- Inability to care or care to take care of baby
- Fear of being left alone with baby
If these feelings are experienced, a visit to the doctor or hospital is imperative.
Treatment for Postpartum Mood Disorders
There are many ways to treat postpartum mood disorders. For some milder forms, talking with a counselor or a trusted loved one can release the feelings and thoughts that have built up. For more serious postpartum depression, treatments include:
- Counseling – talking with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional can help find ways to cope with feelings.
- Hormone Therapy – Estrogen replacement can help counterbalance the loss of estrogen that occurs during child birth.
- Anti-depressants – the most common treatment for Postpartum Depression is taking anti-depressants. Remember that if you are breastfeeding anything you put into your body will also exit with your breast milk, so talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking an anti-depressant.
With proper treatment, postpartum mood disorders can go away easily and soon. In some cases, the depression can last up to a year.
Postpartum mood disorder isn’t anyone’s fault. Sometimes depression or anxiety is simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, getting adequate treatment can help you manage your symptoms and enjoy your new baby. You’re not alone, don’t be afraid to tell someone you need help.