Giving birth involves a vast array of emotions, and not all of them are joy and happiness. Because giving birth is such an enormous undertaking with lots of ups and downs, it’s completely normal to feel sad, upset or down in the first few days of giving birth. This is colloquially referred to as ‘the Baby Blues’ and is experienced by up to 80% of women who give birth. However, for some women these symptoms can be severe, longer-lasting and disabling. At this point the doctor may be concerned that the women is experiencing post-partum depression.
How is Postpartum Depression different from the Baby Blues?
For the ‘Baby Blues’, symptoms are commonly:
Worry, unhappiness, fatigue
Difficulty sleeping/loss of appetite
These symptoms usually will go away after 3-5 days.
Postpartum depression meanwhile, can involve the following symptoms (as well as those mentioned above):
Oversleeping or inability to sleep
Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
Anger or rage
Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Physical aches, pains, headaches
Withdrawing from friends, family and loved ones
Difficulty bonding or forming attachment with the baby
Persistently doubting ability to care for the baby
Thinking about harming self or the baby.
Unlike the Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression persists beyond 3-5 days and usually lasts at least 2 weeks. Symptoms usually occur within 1 month of giving birth.
How is Postpartum depression managed?
If you have symptoms similar to those discussed above (especially thoughts of harm) it is very important that you discuss these feelings with your doctor (remember that anything you tell the doctor is confidential and will not be shared with anyone unless the doctor believes strongly that you or someone else is in danger).
After discussing with your doctor, they will decide whether your symptoms are likely to be due to post-partum depression and what the most appropriate treatment is. Treatments may involve one or more of:
Psychological therapy: talking to a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist
Medicine: antidepressants commonly have good effect for the mother, and many of these medications are fine for breastfeeding mothers.
Electroconvulsive therapy: This may be used in extreme cases, but can be very effective. Completely safe for mother and baby.
Lack of treatment can lead to a worsening of symptoms and potential harm to yourself or your baby, which is why openness and honesty is key to ensuring that you get the best treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.
National Institute of Mental Health 2017, Postpartum Depression [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml (Accessed 21 June 2018)
Office on Women’s Health 2016, Postpartum Depression [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression (Accessed 21 Jun 2018)
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