What is Postpartum Depression?
Your 9-month journey to childbirth was exciting, you can’t wait to hold this precious bundle once he or she is out! Your mind and body go through a lot of changes, then comes the day. You have officially stepped into motherhood. All of a sudden you have a new routine. Sleep is now a luxury as you become jittery at every sound coming from your little one. Then you begin to feel something different within you. There seems to be a dry and empty feeling accompanied by a sense of misery and sadness, something that doesn’t seem to go away. This lingering feeling is what is called postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression definition – a moderate to severe depression in a woman following her baby’s birth. She may be feeling stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired, or weepy. It may occur soon after delivery and doesn’t go away quickly if left unmanaged. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery. It is NOT your fault. It is NOT that you don’t love your baby and all that goes with it. It is a joy stealer but it CAN be helped.
Postpartum depression can interfere with self-care and your day-to-day function. With a baby to constantly attend to, it may be difficult to cope. You might ask, “Is this really part of motherhood?” Postpartum depression happens on any type of pregnancy — easy or problematic ones; first, third, or sixth pregnancy. It can happen regardless of your income, race, age, culture, or education but its severity is our concern.
What causes postpartum depression? Researchers have speculated that PPD is caused, at least in part, by the rapid change in the reproductive hormones estradiol (one of the four major naturally occurring estrogens) and progesterone before and immediately after delivery. After 24 hours of giving birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels quickly drop back to normal like that before giving birth. Thyroid hormone levels responsible for regulating your body’s use and storage of energy from food may also drop after giving birth.
There are, however, psychological and environmental factors that may likewise trigger the occurrence of postpartum depression. A major one could be stress due to changes in lifestyle, appearance, and baby management. Fear and anxiety in interpersonal relationships from a lack of support or withdrawal can be a big factor; as well as other emotional stressors like financial constraints and family problems. They can each take a toll.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
I suggest that you familiarize yourself with postpartum depression symptoms to prepare yourself when they come. How do I know what I’m feeling are symptoms of postpartum depression?
After giving birth, you would be very busy attending to your infant’s needs. You might be overwhelmed by this new change. So, look out for these signs of postpartum depression:
- Feeling restless, agitated, irritated, angry, or having mood swings
- Feeling miserable, sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed; even though you love this little one
- Crying a lot and for long periods of time.
- Having thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself (make sure to tell someone)
- A lack of bond with your baby, or feeling as if your baby is someone else’s baby
- Fear of being left alone with the baby
- Having no energy or motivation
- Eating much more, or much less, than you usually do
- Inability to sleep or stay asleep; or too much sleep – even when baby is sleeping
- Having trouble remembering, focusing or making decisions
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or blaming yourself
- Fear of not being a good mother
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Withdrawing from your friends and family
- Having headaches, aches, or lingering stomach problems
- Anxiety or panic attacks
Postpartum depression clearly affects early bonding between the mother and child. If not addressed, it can pose potentially devastating and harmful consequences for both baby and mother, thus it is very important that you reach out for help.
Here’s a word of comfort. Having postpartum depression does not make you a bad mother, or not deserving to nurture your newborn. What you need is all the support you can get from those whom you trust or consult a psychotherapist to help you process what you’re going through. Do not be embarrassed about your condition. Tell someone close to you about how you feel. Reach out to other family members for support and understanding. This way, you may take your focus away from the disturbing thoughts and feelings and receive some reassurance from those who care for you deeply.
How Long Can Postpartum Depression Last?
Experiencing Postpartum Depression is like being in a rut or having a very bad dream. You wish that there is a certain formula that can instantly turn your moods back to normal, some sort of healing. While there is no definite time frame when postpartum depression would end, we can discuss some evidence of improvement as you move along to get help. The length of your PPD depends on the following conditions:
- The severity of your depression or anxiety.
- Whether you’ve reached out for help or not; and how long you’ve waited to reach out.
- Your home environment
- How much support you are receiving
- Whether you have a history of anxiety and depression
- How committed you are in doing self-care practices
- If you take/use supplements to help it along. Balancing hormones is important but can slow milk supply. A balanced approach is necessary but can make all the difference. Natural progesterone cream helps to offset estradiol but only a small amount is needed. , B-vitamins, Bee Pollen, or Royal Jelly may all be helpful as well. Learn more about these so you can beat PPD but let us also suggest Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals to keep your milk up if you are breastfeeding.
It’s not really the question of how long postpartum depression can last or when you can recover from it, but how dedicated you are (and your support team) in getting better. To shorten your postpartum depression, you need to commit to the self-care practices that your therapist/counselor or support group encourages you to do. The journey can be long and tedious but be gentle with yourself. You will get there. Praying can also help you pour out your feelings to God. It’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re entrapped in the very center of PPD but know that there is hope for you. And the world on the other side might be brighter and more beautiful as you continue nurturing and loving yourself, your baby, and your family.