Post Partum Depression

QUESTION: What is post partum depression? How can I avoid it?


Post partum depression is a condition that affects new mothers both physically and emotionally shortly after giving birth. It is classified into three different categories depending upon the severity of the occurrence.

The first type of Post Partum Depression is sometimes called the "baby blues." This stage is characterized by sudden mood swings, either feeling ecstatically happy or drastically sad. It may last for just a few hours or as long as a week or two. The "baby blues" do not necessarily need to be treated by a physician.

The second category of PPD is Post Partum Depression. This condition is similar to the "baby blues" only much more severe. It can occur after the birth of any child, not just the first one. In addition to mood swings, the sufferer also experiences irritability, restlessness, and an inability to enjoy doing the things she once enjoyed. Her ability to function normally is impaired and the symptoms can last for as long as a year. Treatment by a physician is usually recommended.

The third category of Post Partum Depression is called Post Partum Psychosis. This is an extremely serious form of PPD. Post Partum Psychosis usually occurs within the first three months after delivery. It is marked by hallucinations both auditory and visual. The patient loses touch with reality and can also suffer from insomnia, anger, agitation, and exhibit odd or abnormal behaviors. Post Partum Psychosis always requires treatment.

There are many reasons women suffer from Post Partum Depression but the exact cause is not clear. Some suspected causes are hormonal changes in the body caused by the pregnancy, and a past history of depression. Thyroid levels also change after delivery and this is thought to affect the woman's energy level and mood swings.

In addition, scientists now believe that changes in the brain's level of serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine can also cause depression. Since no one knows the exact cause of Post Partum Depression practicing preventive medicine is not feasible. However, there are certain risk factors that one should be aware of that increase the risk of PPD. These risk factors include: a history of depression in either the mother or her family, a lack of support during and after the pregnancy, a difficult or complicated pregnancy and delivery, a previous occurrence of PPD, marital problems, and/or preexisting psychological disorders.

Learn more about coping with depression now!

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