Postpartum Depression is a depressive disorder experienced by some people following childbirth. It is not fully known what causes this disorder, postpartum depression can affect any person who has given birth, not just those who are predisposed to depressive disorders and just because a person suffers depression after childbirth does not mean they will go on to have a depressive illness later in life. There are different types or stages of postpartum depression ranging from the mild baby blues feeling to the more serious disorder of psychosis. It is rare for a person to suffer psychosis with research showing that less than 2 women out of a thousand have this diagnosis.
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to other depressive disorders and can also include symptoms of anxiety and panic. In some sufferers the depression will lift within a couple of months of giving birth whilst in others it may remain longer term and require treatment. Postpartum depression can be effectively treated with talk therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy. A combination of therapy and medication may also be used.
Here are some of the symptoms to look out for if you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from postpartum depression:
- Feelings of sadness and being tearful
- Unable to concentrate on normal activities
- Feeling tense or anxious most of the time
- Feeling irritable or short tempered
- Feeling uncomfortable being alone with the baby
- Extreme worry and fear maybe leading to panic episodes
- Palpitations, dizziness and feeling short of breath – probably panic relate
- Repetitive behaviour similar to that experienced by sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder
Some more serious symptoms which would require immediate help would be:
- Thoughts of self harm or harming the baby
It is important to remember that you are not alone and that many people go through this, it is not something to feel guilty about or something you should try and hide from your partner or family and friends. Asking for their support during this time is an important first step!