Having a child is an experience that can significantly change your life in more ways than one. Being a parent is thrilling, but it can also be overwhelming and emotionally draining. It’s natural to feel anxious or unsure, especially if you’re a first-time mother. But if you’re experiencing extreme loneliness or sadness, recurring crying spells, and severe mood swings, you may be suffering from postnatal depression.
How common is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression, or postpartum depression, is a type of depression that some women experience after having a child. This type of depression usually appears one to three weeks after giving birth, but it can also appear months later. The condition can occur whether a woman has a natural birth, a caesarian section, or a miscarriage.
After giving birth, most new mothers endure the ‘baby blues’. After delivery, about one out of every ten of these women will experience more extreme and long-lasting depressive episodes. Postpartum psychosis, on the other hand, is a more serious illness that occurs in about 1 in 1,000 women.
Postnatal depression can sometimes resolve itself within three months of giving birth. However, if it’s already interfering with your daily life at any point, or if ‘the blues’ don’t go away after more than two weeks, you should seek medical help for treatment.
The different types of treatment available for postnatal depression
A healthy mother is essential for her child’s health both during pregnancy and after birth. You and your newborn must get the appropriate treatment to recover. If you don’t receive postnatal depression support the first time you ask, try again or find somebody who will actually pay attention.
Seeking treatment immediately is key, so your symptoms won’t get severe or out of hand. Late detection or not detecting it at all may affect your child. The condition can make them vulnerable to persistent temper tantrums, sleep disturbances, insecurity and impaired cognitive development.
Most women recover completely with the right support and treatment, though it may take some time. Here are some of the postnatal depression treatment options that can help you in managing and overcoming your condition:
One component of postpartum depression treatment is having a support group. It’s particularly beneficial to mothers like you, but it can also benefit your family, partner and friends. Support groups are typically facilitated by a counselor, therapist, physician, psychiatrist and other mental health professionals.
During meetings, your group can cover a variety of topics, including success stories, coping skills, treatment feedback and personal or unique challenges and stories. Anyone suffering from postpartum depression can benefit from joining a support group. Support groups provide advice, comfort and communal encouragement in a safe environment. Because these meetings take place in a welcoming atmosphere, those suffering from PPD feel understood, accepted and validated in their challenges.
If you’re suffering from postpartum depression, know that you’re not the only one, you’re not to blame and that help is available. Your healthcare provider can help you overcome your symptoms and recommend treatments to make you feel better.
Immediate problems associated with postnatal depression include appetite and sleep changes. To help resolve such issues, your healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants that have few side effects and are safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Make sure you’re aware of the risks and benefits of your medications before taking them.
Postnatal depression treatment is frequently combined with antidepressant medication, mainly if the disorder is moderate or severe. Antidepressants are typically used to treat symptoms such as irritability, poor concentration, poor sleep and low mood.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s essential to know that medications can pass through your milk to the baby. Although the transfer level is relatively low, it’s best to be educated about it. Speak to your doctor or therapist to help you decide on the best medication for your condition.
Psychotherapy or counselling
Postnatal depression is conventionally treated much like any other type of depression, so counseling or talk therapy can help. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is commonly used for postnatal depression treatment, either alone or in conjunction with antidepressants. Your doctor can recommend you to a qualified psychotherapist to help you overcome what you’re going through.
Counseling can help you learn strategies to respond to situations, confront your emotions, identify priorities and solve problems positively through therapy. That’s why it’s crucial to reach out to trained and skilled professionals to provide you with the necessary counseling and therapy.
ECT for postpartum psychosis
If you have postpartum depression symptoms, doctors will assess their extent, including whether you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby. They’ll also need to identify other mood-related symptoms to determine if what you have is postpartum depression or another condition like postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder.
Some women suffer from postpartum psychosis, a serious mental health condition requiring urgent medical attention. This illness is comparatively rare, with symptoms that are usually extreme and last for a few weeks to several months after delivery. Hyperactivity, feelings of shame and hopelessness, severe agitation, insomnia, confusion, hallucinations or delusions, paranoia, mania or rapid speech are all symptoms.
The treatment for postpartum psychosis involves immediate medical attention, usually in the hospital. Aside from mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications, your healthcare provider may also recommend electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to help reduce the symptoms of psychosis. It works by triggering changes in brain chemistry, causing a brief seizure.
How to choose the right treatment for you
Depending on your doctor’s advice and your preferences, the above-mentioned treatment options may be taken alone or in combination. Many aspects must be considered before choosing a treatment plan, including the severity of your symptoms and the level of disruption they’re producing in your life. A minor case of PPD, for example, may be effectively controlled with counseling, whereas a moderate to severe case of PPD may necessitate medication.
An early postpartum checkup to look for depression symptoms may be suggested by your doctor. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start therapy. If you have a history of postpartum depression, your doctor may advise that you begin treatment as soon as the baby arrives.
Self-care tips to help you recover from postnatal depression
Doing nothing about postnatal depression won’t help your situation at all. Sometimes, simply recognising that you’re going through it is a big step towards acknowledging the condition. You can help yourself recover quickly, so you can also help your child and family.
Many women can cover up their postnatal depression. They provide excellent care for their child and appear to be in good health to everyone around them. As a result, they end up suffering from the condition as an underlying misery.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your family and friends about how you feel. Make time for things you enjoy doing, rest when you can and get as much sleep as you can at night. Also, maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help improve your symptoms.
Postnatal depression is a typical disorder that affects about one in seven women after birth. Medical attention, support and self-help are some things that you can consider to recover from this condition. You can consider other postnatal depression treatment options, including psychological treatments such as counseling and therapy.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.