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The Reality of Postpartum Depression: The Stuff No One Talks About

A couple that has been longing to create new additions to their families are quite joyful once they find out that a new baby is indeed along the way. It is exciting to know that a new baby will be in the picture and planning for the new baby such as getting the nursery ready, making a list of the apparatus for the baby that will be needed such as diapers, sleepers, onesies, blankets, and so on is a fun time. These couples may even go to Lamaze class to learn good tips on how to prepare for the birth and labor.  However, a very serious problem that happens to new mothers (and fathers) is rarely spoken about, and that is postpartum depression.

Many new mothers, or mothers of a newborn regardless whether the baby is the first born or not happen to experience a sense of sadness after birth. That is called the “baby blues” and that usually disappears by 2 weeks after the birth. However, if the blues still continue past 2 weeks, then it is far more serious. Not to mention, new fathers can suffer from the condition as well! Let’s talk further about postpartum depression causes and treatment.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression (also referred to as PPD) is a type of depression that happens to mothers shortly after giving birth. However, there are cases when it happens even during pregnancy, which is more the exception than the rule. The postpartum depression causes are due to several factors.

  • Hormonal changes. This is applicable to women since they are the ones who have given birth, and are dealing with fluctuation as a result. These hormonal fluctuations cause confusion, as well as mixed emotions. Therefore, it is not a shock that postpartum depression can be caused by that.
  • Lack of sleep. New parents will be getting less sleep when their newborn baby is crying in the night to bed fed, or is crying in the night because days and nights don’t make sense yet- that will certainly have a negative impact on sleep. And the less sleep anyone gets, the less functional and more depressed they become.
  • A sudden shock and disruption in life. Nothing can prepare anyone for what it is like to have their own kids. No one can really prepare first time expecting parents for how much a baby will change their lives! Having your routine and life disrupted by a new baby (in conjunction with getting very little sleep) will wreak havoc on your mental and emotional state!
  • Constant worrying. New parents will be worrying about money, whether they are doing a good job with the baby or not, and just about life in general. When anyone is constantly worrying about anything, that can hurt anyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

The postpartum depression causes have been discussed, now let’s go over the signs of the condition. This way, if you or you have a friend who became a new parent that is exhibiting any of these signs, then there is a good a chance they are suffering from PPD, and it will have to be addressed.

  • Feelings of extreme sadness. Whenever anyone is more sad than happy, and the sadness seems to be worsening over time- that is a sign of depression.
  • Feelings of guilt. Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous event. A mom suffering from PPD is feeling very guilty for not being able to enjoy the new bundle.
  • Increase in anxiety. As mentioned above, extreme sadness is a strong indication of any kind of depression. However, anxiety about caring for the child- or about anything in general is another strong sign of PPD which is also caused by having new concerns and worries which was mentioned previously.
  • Extreme anger and irritability. The fuse will be extremely short when PPD is present, and a sufferer will become irritable and angry over minor situations.
  • Significant changes in appetite and weight. Mothers suffering from PPD may have a less of an appetite and will end up losing weight. However, many mothers with Postpartum Depression have an increase in appetite and end up gaining weight quite a bit.
  • Digestive problems.  Because PPD is stressful for the mother to go through, the digestive system will be negatively impacted. She will likely experience more nausea as well as abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. New fathers will as well who are affected.
  • A drastic change in sleeping habits. Mothers who have PPD will either sleep throughout most of the day, or end up with insomnia. Either way, a drastic change in sleeping habits is known to happen with this condition.
  • Social withdrawal.  Not only does the mother who is suffering from PPD avoid being with her friends or family, she will also want to not have anything to do with her baby and will isolate herself. Fathers who are affected may do the same.
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming the baby.  This is extreme! And the majority of PPD sufferers will not have these frightening thoughts about harming the baby or harming or killing themselves. However, if any new parent has these thoughts, they must get help immediately.
  • Hallucinations or delusions. These are  signs of postpartum depression at the very severe end. If PPD has not been treated, it can escalate to this point which is also referred to as postpartum psychosis (PPP).  If postpartum psychosis is suspected, then it needs to be addressed immediately before the mother actually either harms herself or her baby.

Postpartum Depression Treatment – You’re NOT Alone

If new parents are suffering from any of the signs discussed above, then they will need to receive postpartum depression treatment. The first step that must be taken is making an appointment with the doctor, and being completely honest about how they are impacted, and how much they are truly suffering.

Treatment for PPD will involve medication, talk therapy or usually both. As long as treatment is started early enough once the signs of postpartum depression become apparent, chances are the parents will heal, feel better, create a new routine with the baby, and adjust in the end. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, this is an extremely normal part of becoming a new mother/parent. 

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