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Facts that Can Help Family Members
Many of us may have personally known someone who suffered from postpartum depression but may not be familiar with the causes or symptoms of this problem. If you are a pregnant woman, soon to have your baby, or a family member of someone who is about to give birth, chances you will want to know more about this affliction.
It is believed by the medical profession that postpartum depression is caused by a sudden hormonal change and by a variety of psychological and environmental factors.
According to the book, “The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine,” psychological stress is a major cause for this sudden attack.
Postpartum depression ranges from being rather mild to a state known as depressive psychosis.
In the mild form of this disturbance, it will last just a short while. This is a common type of attack, and is sometimes known as the “baby blues.”
It is estimated that probably more than two thirds of mothers have this type of “blues.” This mild form of the blues usually starts about four to five days after childbirth. This type of depression can cause the woman to be discouraged, irritable and sometimes mentally confused. The family, expecting to see a very happy mother, upon visiting her at the hospital, may be quite surprised to see this mother in this condition if they are not familiar with postpartum depression. They may especially be surprised if they see her crying. This is supposed to be a happy time, they may think
Besides hormonal changes that can cause even minor depression, as mentioned earlier, psychological factors can play a role. This is when a sense of reality can set in. At this time, especially if this is the first baby, the mother can feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility. She suddenly realizes that she has the responsibility of having to take care of this new born baby. This can especially be true if the mother is very young and has not had the responsibility of taking care of another child in her family while growing up. With the reassurance of her family members and friends, this mild form of depression can disappear within a few days.
With the more severe type of depression, which can hit 10 – 15% of women who have just given birth, their depression is much stronger than in the mild form and can last for several weeks. The symptoms of the severe form of depression can be feelings of tiredness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and restlessness.
This type of depression seems to be more likely to occur if the woman has a strained relationship with her partner, no support from her family, financial or other worries, or if she has a personality disorder. She can also have this severe case of depression if she had a great deal of anxiety during pregnancy. It is not uncommon for single mothers and first time mothers to go through a certain degree of severe depression. Severe depression usually clears up eventually or taking antidepressant for a little while.
The most severe form of postpartum depression is known as Depressive psychosis. This type of depression usually starts about two to three weeks after childbirth. The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine states that since psychosis runs in families, it is believed that latent emotional conflicts is the cause of this type of depression. Depressive psychosis is marked by severe mental confusion, feelings of worthlessness, threats of suicide or of harm to the baby. Sometimes the mother suffers from delusions. The woman’s moods may change rapidly.
Treatment for depressive psychosis requires counseling and family therapy. Antidepressant may also be required.