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Peripartum depression

Bringing a new life into this world is often considered a joyous occasion, but many new moms experience it as a time of grief, hopelessness, and intense anxiety. For the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the child, it is important to understand the peripartum depression.

What is Peripartum Depression?

Depression that develops during pregnancy or right after giving birth is referred to as “peripartum depression”. The term “peripartum” acknowledges the fact that depression is related to having a baby and starts before, during, or immediately after giving birth.

Most women feel that having a baby is a jumble of emotions, ranging from pleasure and excitement to fear and anxiety. But it may also lead to depression, which one might not expect. Around one in seven women can develop postpartum depression (PPD) following childbirth.

After giving birth, some new mothers might experience “baby blues,” which commonly include mood swings, crying episodes, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues often begin two to three days after delivery and can last up to two weeks. This is not the same as postpartum depression, which is a more severe, chronic form of depression that some new moms may experience.

Symptoms Of Peripartum Depression

What are the symptoms of peripartum depression?

Peripartum depression symptoms include:

What are the causes of peripartum depression?

Genetics:

A family history of depression can increase the risk of peripartum depression. If your mother or sister experienced it, you may have a higher risk of developing it.

Life stressors:

The physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes that come with motherhood can be overwhelming, leading to depression.

Lack of social support:

Lack of emotional support from family and friends or a complicated relationship with a partner can contribute to feelings of depression.

Psychological factors:

Women who have a history of depression or any other mental health issues are also at higher risk for peripartum depression.

Medical complications:

Complications during pregnancy may increase the chances of developing peripartum depression.

Hormonal changes:

During pregnancy and after childbirth, there are substantial changes in hormone levels, including a rapid decrease in estrogen levels, which can contribute to mood changes, irritability, and other symptoms of depression.

Do new fathers experience postpartum depression?

New fathers can also experience postpartum depression. They face the same symptoms that peripartum depressed women encounter, which include feeling sad and tired, feeling anxious, or changing their regular eating and sleeping schedules.

Postpartum depression is most usually common among young dads, those with a history of depression, people who struggle with relationships, and financially unstable people. Postpartum depression in fathers ― sometimes called paternal postpartum depression ― can have the same negative effect on relationships and child development as postpartum depression in mothers.

What Treatments Are Available For Peripartum Depression?

Many women may suffer in silence, dismissing their problems as a normal part of pregnancy and failing to get proper help. However, it is important to receive treatment for depression throughout pregnancy and after childbirth. Better awareness and knowledge can lead to better results for mothers and their newborn babies.

One popular treatment option is psychotherapy. When depression is mild, psychotherapy without medication to be used as the first line treatment option. It can help address negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression.

Another option is medication. Antidepressant medication can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s essential to talk to your psychiatrist before starting any medication.

Antidepressant options during pregnancy

 

How to prevent peripartum depression?

Prevention of peripartum depression is important as it is easier to stop it than to cure it. Identifying high-risk women during pregnancy and post-delivery is the first step toward prevention. Healthy lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and getting enough sleep can be impactful. Adding self-care routines such as meditation or yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Attending regular prenatal check-ups can help identify any risk factors for peripartum depression and provide early intervention if needed. Women who exhibit symptoms should be immediately referred for counseling to stop the progression of the depression. Learning about peripartum depression and its symptoms can help women recognize the signs early and seek treatment promptly.

Preparing for the challenges of motherhood, such as arranging for childcare or household help, can help women manage stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Peripartum depression can be a tough experience, but prevention and early intervention can help make it manageable. Women should not struggle alone; support groups such as family, friends, and mental health professionals are available to offer assistance.

When should you see a doctor?

How friends, family, and partners may support a mother with peripartum depression?

Peripartum Psychiatry
Recognize the Signs.

Learn to see the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and if you notice them, suggest visiting a psychiatrist.

Encourage her to get assistance if needed.

She could feel uneasy and decide against asking for assistance. Encourage her to consult a medical professional.

Support Her.

She must know that you are here to support her and that she is not alone. Consider watching the child while she can rest or assisting her with house chores.