Postpartum depression or postpartum depression is a type of depression that is experienced by many women after giving birth. Depression that occurs after childbirth is a common problem affecting around 13 percent of women worldwide, especially in developing countries. But many women don’t even realize that they are experiencing this condition.
Depression that usually occurs in the first six weeks after giving birth is different from baby blues which generally can subside in a matter of days or weeks. If not handled properly, postpartum depression can last long term with no less dangerous consequences than other forms of serious depression.
What are the Symptoms?
Many women who often ignore their bad feelings for fear of looking unhappy after becoming a mother until they unwittingly, they experience postpartum depression.
Therefore, recognizing the symptoms of depression is not only important for expectant mothers, but also for relatives and close friends. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Feelings of sadness or lackluster are persistent.
- It’s hard to get close and close with babies.
- Constantly feeling sad and crying for no apparent reason.
- Ignoring yourself, for example, not wanting to eat, not changing clothes or bathing.
- Loss of sense of humor and interest in what has always been liked.
- Constantly worrying that something is wrong with the baby.
- Restlessness or mood swings quickly and is easily offended.
- Often feel exhausted and not powered up.
- Not confident, feel guilty, want to hurt yourself, or even arise suicidal thoughts.
- Hard to sleep.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
In very rare cases, some mothers think of hurting their babies. These symptoms can be so serious that depressed sufferers are unable to connect with others, cannot care for their babies, and are reluctant to travel far. Symptoms of postpartum depression and baby blues at a glance look similar. But usually the symptoms of baby blues tend to be milder and will improve on their own within 1-2 weeks, while postpartum depression has more severe symptoms, tends to persist and can have a negative impact on the lives of mothers and children if left untreated.
Negative feelings that arise make many women feel that they are bad mothers and choose to hide it, so that it does not get the right treatment. Actually, postpartum depression is not only felt by the mother. Fathers can also experience depression after the birth of a baby.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Experts have not been able to identify with certainty and clearly what causes some mothers experience postpartum depression, while most other mothers do not experience it. Generally, this condition is caused by a combination of various factors. Some of the following are thought to be the underlying factors, including:
- Lack of sleep and weak physical condition after childbirth, accompanied by demands for caring for the baby.
- Hormonal changes that make some women feel more sensitive.
- Family and social problems such as financial problems, conflicts with family members, or lack of support from the people closest to give birth and care for babies.
- A history of depression that has been experienced before, especially depression during pregnancy.
- Having health problems, especially postpartum, such as pain in the former stitches or urination disorders.
- Having difficulty in breastfeeding.
- There are sad memories after you give birth, such as the death of a parent.
- Babies experience health or physical problems, or are born prematurely.
- The difficulty of labor.
- Some babies are more demanding and more difficult to handle than other babies, making the mother overwhelmed.
Although not dominant, genetic factors are thought to play a role. Women whose family members have a history of depression are more at risk of postpartum depression.
For new parents, the learning process in undergoing a new role can be a stage that triggers depression, because many things are apparently not in accordance with the theory or expectations.
How to handle it?
Postpartum depression can be a prolonged problem if left alone. The reason, postpartum depression can last for months if not treated. Following are the handling steps that can be taken.
- Talk to relatives or close friends as soon as possible. Support of the people closest to you is very important for mental health. Or you can also go directly to a psychiatrist or doctor.
- Exercise can help alleviate mild depression. Talk to your doctor or sports instructor to get the right set of exercises.
- Psychiatrists may provide psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (Cognitive Behavior Therapy / CBT).
- Antidepressant medications that doctors prescribe are generally for those who have experienced depression or who have experienced severe depression. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of antidepressant that is generally recommended for breastfeeding mothers, in addition to the Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA) class of drugs. Other medications that may be given are a combination of mood stabilizer drugs such as lithium, antipsychotics, and sedatives such as benzodiazepines if the mother suffering from postpartum depression has a history of mood disorders or previous psychotic symptoms. However, side effects from these drugs have the potential to make mothers unable to give breast milk. Always check the eligibility of the drug with a doctor before taking it, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The use of drugs to treat symptoms of depression or other psychological disorders in pregnant women should be monitored by a specialist.
Make sure the mother has time for herself, doing what she likes or talking with close friends, without being with the baby. This requires the support of close relatives who are willing to help care for the Little One during the mother’s trip. Symptoms of postpartum depression cannot be considered mild or considered trivial. This disorder is a form of depression that if left untreated, will cause adverse effects such as self-harming behavior or the baby, and the emergence of suicidal ideation.
Are There Ways You Can Do to Prevent Depression?
There is no evidence of effective prevention of postpartum depression, except to live a healthy lifestyle as well as possible. If you want to avoid postpartum depression, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing depression, including:
- Take care of yourself while pregnant, try to reduce stress levels and receive the help offered, whether from your partner, friends, or family.
- You are advised to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Tell your doctor if you have a history of psychological problems when you want to have a baby or when you are pregnant. Because, if you experience it while pregnant, the doctor must conduct surveillance the first few weeks after you give birth to Little.
- If you experience postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend giving antidepressants or undergoing psychotherapy immediately after giving birth.
Keep in mind that this condition can occur to anyone with a combination of various causative factors. In addition, if you are a woman who is experiencing postpartum depression, there are a number of important things that you need to remember, namely that various help and support is available to you (including with therapy). Depression is like any other illness, so don’t blame yourself for having postpartum depression. If you feel depressed and depressed, it doesn’t mean you are crazy or you are a bad parent. Lastly, remember your baby will not be taken from you.
If there are symptoms of depression accompanied by thoughts or feelings of suicide, hallucinations, dehydration because you do not want to eat or drink for days, can not sleep for how many days until you are lacking energy, thoughts or attempts to hurt the baby, immediately consult with a psychiatrist to get treatment because these conditions are symptoms of severe depression that can potentially harm you and your child.
Childbirth, living the life process and having a new family member that requires you to be a parent is not something trivial. Still, be thankful you can have a baby and don’t let yourself experience postpartum depression. Make yourself happy, because you can happily take care of your baby well and lovingly.