Mothers who just gave birth usually go through an emotional rollercoaster ride – mood swings, lack of appetite, sleeping problems, and more. This is a normal experience for all mothers and usually last for a few weeks. This is often referred to as the baby blues.
However, if the baby blues go on for months and already affect the ability to take care of oneself and the baby, this may be Post-Partum Depression.
According to a feature on HelpGuide.org, the symptoms of post-partum depression include mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia and irritability.
Anxiety is prominent in post-partum depression. One excessively worries about the baby’s health and welfare. One may be troubled with disturbing thoughts of injuring the baby. There is lack of concentration, motivation, energy and pleasure. There are repeating feelings of death or suicide, lack of worth and guilt.
Post-partum depression usually starts soon after childbirth and builds up steadily over a period of several months. There is also a possibility of delayed onset; so a depressive episode within six months of childbirth should also be considered.
Women with a history of depression or experienced severe PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder have an increased risk of developing post-partum depression. Stressful incidents during and after pregnancy such as pre-natal problems, difficult delivery, premature or even still birth, can also elevate one’s risk factor. Finally, marital problems or lack of social support may also lead to greater risk of having post-partum depression.
It is important for sufferers to seek professional treatment. Psychotherapy can be very effective. It does away with concerns of taking medications while breastfeeding. Estrogen replacement therapy, used in combination with an antidepressant, may help. If marital problems or feeling of inadequate support is experienced, marriage counseling may be of great benefit.