PRE AND POST PREGNANCY DEPRESSION
The feeling of bringing life into the world is one that can never be quantified. There is always all forms positive vibes that come with it. Yes! Pregnancy and safe delivery are good, but in some cases, the new mother could go into a state of depression and might not even be aware of it. Therefore it becomes essential to educate women about depression during and after pregnancy and how it could be managed or prevented. Some of these post-pregnancy experiences are normal, but it is essential that we see a doctor to control or manage them effectively.
What is depression?
Depression has its history from several years ago and is an adverse medical condition or illness that dictates the way you feel, act and think. Fortunately, this medical condition can be treated when diagnosed. If depression is not treated early, it could lead to death some studies have shown. The symptoms of depression are usually diagnosed two weeks after. Mood swings are always familiar with depressed people and probability of making irrational decisions are quite high.
Depression happens to anybody, but more common in women than men. Although there are no precise figures that show the number of depressed women presently, research has shown that it is common in pregnant women too.
What causes depression and how do I know when I am depressed?
There is an active number of possible triggers of depression, but in most cases, the death of a loved one, stressful way of living and science has taught us that it could also be hereditary. All these events could cause an imbalance in the chemical reactions that take place in the brain. This could cause the death of the child in the early or later stages of the pregnancy.
You should experience some of these symptoms if you are depressed or you suspect someone that could be suffering from depression. Usually, depression is not diagnosed until after two weeks. The symptoms include:
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Feeling sad, guilty and overwhelmed
- Crying a lot
- Having no energy or motivation
- Eating too little or too much
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart beating fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing)
What are the significant differences between baby blues, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis?
Baby blues happen some days after childbirth and could take days or weeks to go away. New mothers can experience some of the symptoms stated earlier which may not be severe and might not require any form of treatment. However, there are things new mothers can do to feel better after delivery. Examples include: to take a nap when the baby does, seek help from spouses, family members, and friends and they can as well join a support group for new mothers.
On the other hand, postpartum depression can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth. A new mum could have some symptoms ranging from sadness, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, anxiety to feelings of guilt and worthlessness. The significant factors that differentiate postpartum depression and the baby blue is that postpartum depression often affects the woman’s well-being and prevents her from optimally functioning well for a more extended period. Hence, postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor.
Postpartum psychosis is the rare case which occurs in a small number of people that is; it could be 1 or 2 out of every 1000 births. It begins in the first six weeks postpartum. Women who have bipolar disorder or another psychiatric problem called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of developing postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, and obsessive thoughts about the baby. A woman may have rapid mood swings, from depression to irritability to euphoria.
Helpful steps to take while experiencing symptoms of depression during pregnancy or after childbirth?
A few women do not feel comfortable talking about their depressed state when in fact they are
meant to be happy. These women usually worry about the opinion of people and hence keep to themselves in solitude. It is important to note that perinatal depression can happen to any woman and does not categorise you as a bad mother. It is essential to be open about depression so that people can help you.
Talk Therapies have proven as an excellent solution that can help women experiencing perinatal depression and will make you feel better about yourself. Quite a few models of research suggest that anti-depressants work for depressed women. Your doctor can help you learn more about these options and decide which approach is best for you and your baby. Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are having symptoms of depression while you are pregnant or after you deliver your baby. Your doctor or midwife can give you a questionnaire to test for depression and can also refer you to a mental health professional that specialises in treating depression.
Possible effects of untreated depression
Women who fail to treat depression are at high risk of losing the baby and hurting themselves. Women with depression may exhibit these habits:
- Poor feeding
- Constantly lose weight
- Insomnia which is very bad for the baby too
Depression during pregnancy can increase the risk of:
- Complications during pregnancy or delivery
- An unhealthy baby
- Premature birth
Research has also shown that postpartum depression in mothers can affect the babies too. The following problems could develop in the baby:
- Delays in language development
- Trouble with the mother bonding correctly with the child
- Behavioral challenges
While the mother is in her depressed state, the spouse or an effective caregiver could care for the baby.
There is a growing concern for women living with depression and children suffering from its effects. Every child deserves quality life, and so do the mothers. If you feel depressed in any way, please do not hesitate to see a doctor and talk to someone that can help you.