Having a baby can be a joyous time in your life but don’t be surprised at some point to be reduced to tears and irrational thoughts. Pregnancy really plays around with your hormones so when you finally deliver your baby, those emotions are at an all-time high. The only places to go are either maintaining that emotional level or crash. Many new moms have some moments called the baby blues while others fall into a severely depressed state.
This depressed state is called post partum depression and has actually been documented for thousands of years, although not by that name. Philosophers, physicians and other academics recognized the changes a new mother went through after childbirth but never were able to start quantifying them until the 19th century as medicine started to become more advanced.
These days, post partum depression is a clear mental health condition that can be treated with medications as well as diet and lifestyle changes. It is important to note that there are three primary forms:
Baby blues – Starting from a few days after birth and lasting several weeks, you might experience crying, irrational thinking, anxiety, insomnia and tiredness. Luckily, this passes quickly.
Post partum depression – This condition happens to about 10% of new moms and can last months. Typical baby blues symptoms may occur in addition to suicidal thoughts and physically manifested symptoms such as skin sensitivity, poor concentration, fluid retention and more.
Post partum psychosis – This condition can resemble manic depression due to the wild mood swings from manic happiness to deep sadness. Hallucinations and hearing voices are not uncommon. Medical help is necessary to combat this type of post partum depression because you could actually put your child in danger.
Causes of Post Partum Depression
Hormonal changes are the primary cause of post partum depression in new moms. While pregnant, your hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen rise, sometimes exponentially. Can you imagine the crash after giving birth as your hormonal levels return to normal? This abrupt change can trigger post partum depression. Often, women with this condition are already unusually sensitive to hormonal imbalances.
Treatment of Post Partum Depression
A good support system is necessary to get through post partum depression. While this condition may not necessarily require prescribed medication, it can certainly help. However, doctors take into account whether you are breastfeeding or not before prescribing drugs such as mood elevating anti-depressants. Sometimes, medications can pass through breast milk.
Counseling and psychotherapy are options as are support groups with other new moms. Sometimes just talking with other moms in the same situation can help. Some nutritionists believe that tweaking your diet and adding more omega 3 fatty acids can help too. There are also natural herbal remedies such as soothing teas that can calm nerves and help you deal with hormonal changes.
Each woman may react differently with post partum depression but it is important to seek help if possible so that you have the best mommy experience possible with your new baby.