By KSHVID News Desk.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time to cherish for both parents. The feelings are a true mixture of excitement and confidence. All you want to do is open the doors to unabashed love for the little companion inside you. Not so smoothly, the grand finale arrives with the birth of your baby and you get to experience joyous celebrations with every guest’s visit.
But what if you don’t feel joyous anymore?
What if all the ecstatic feelings turn into anguish and apathy that ask you to take your life?
Every one in seven women suffers postpartum depression after 4 to 6 weeks of birth. It is also reported that it can hit even during pregnancy and last for about a year after delivery. It is a silent yet gut-wrenching reality that hits loudly when it is too late. These complex mixes of emotional and physical irregularities jeopardize two lives, making it difficult or the mother to take care of the baby and herself. People often take postpartum depression as a made-up ailment but it should be hailed as one of the worst headlines in the news.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression, abbreviated as PPD, is marked by the physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that occur after giving birth to a child. It is categorized as the major form of depression that initiates within 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. Although unclear, a drastic drop in the hormone level after birth is linked with the eruption of PPD. These chemical changes in the body along with social and psychological impacts contribute to an increased risk of depression. Even with easily accessible treatment regimens, meaningful diagnosis takes time which leaves PPD untreated, leading to postpartum psychosis i.e. its severe form.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is an amalgamation of a wide array of strong symptoms that can last for a year post-delivery. The most commonly met symptoms are:
- Difficult in bonding with your newborn
- Excessive crying
- Trouble in falling and staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Depressed mood
- Incessant mood swings
- Severe fatigue
- Intense anger
- Feeling ashamed, worthless, and guilty for no reason
- Serious anxiety attacks/panic attacks
- Brain fog
- Lack of concentration
- Unable to think clearly
- Making poor decisions
- Recurrent suicidal thoughts
- Recurrent thoughts of harming your baby
Causes of Postpartum Depression
Although postpartum depression is considered idiosyncratic in lay person’s world and they often call it made-up chaos but its prevalent attitude can have debilitating effects on children. With meticulous studies and findings, science folks have come up with certain factors that contribute to the emergence of postpartum depression.
- History of anxiety and depression
- History of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- History of sexual abuse
- Reluctant to accept baby gender
- Lack of social support
- Domestic violence
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
Obstetric risk factors
- Hospitalizations during pregnancy
- Emergency cesarean section
- Low hemoglobin
- Serious meconium
- Umbilical cord prolapsed
- Preterm birth
Postpartum Depression Vs Baby Blues
Oftentimes, postpartum depression is misunderstood as Baby Blues which is whole a lot different thing. It can be said that PPD is a much more severe anomaly and extension of baby blues that requires medical intervention for its treatment.
On the other hand, Baby Blues appear immediately after childbirth due to complex chemical changes in the body (drop in estrogen and progesterone levels), stress, sleep deprivation, and tiredness. It usually appears within the first few days after delivery and disappears by the end of the second-week post-delivery.
Baby blues is marked by irritability, fatigue, physical and emotional weakness, exhaustion, anxiousness, and sadness. The mood sways from happy to sad in a snap. One moment, you’re ecstatic and proud of your job the next you are crying because you think you are not up for the task.
It is considered perfectly normal to have baby blues as this mix of overwhelmed emotions doesn’t last for more than two weeks. But if the symptoms seem to persist and worsen even after the designated time, then you ought to see a doctor because you might be suffering from postpartum depression.
Treatment & Management of Postpartum Depression
Living with a blurry veil over the eyes is no solution to any problem. Due to the high prevalence of PPD, doctors are focusing more on its prevention. The first line of treatment includes psychosocial and psychological psychotherapy for mild to moderate postpartum depression.
It is preferred to initiate a combination of therapy with antidepressants for a speedy recovery of moderate to severe PPD. The first choice of drug is SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) which can be replaced with SNRIs (Serotonin nor-epinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors).
Lactating ladies and mothers who are hesitant to start antidepressants can benefit from TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Simulations). It is a non-invasive procedure that employs magnetic waves to activate the under-active nerve cells. For effective treatment, it is conducted 5 times a week for 4 to 6 weeks. Although it is a safe procedure and quite well-tolerated but some of its side effects can be deleterious, such as hearing loss (if done with inadequate ear protection), seizures, headaches, lightheadedness, facial muscle twitch, scalp discomfort, mania (in people with bipolar disorder).
For extreme cases, where psychotherapy and medications prove unsuccessful, ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is performed. It is fruitful for patients who are on the verge of psychosis and experience malnutrition, serious sleep deprivation along with suicidal and infanticidal thoughts. It is a safe option for mothers with little to no side effects.
For patients who fail to respond to even ECT, doctors go for Brexanolone, an FDA-approved intravenous medication specifically for postpartum depression. It is only available at certified healthcare facilities due to its restricted use and limited clinical experience.
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