Identifying and Treating Post-Partum Depression

Having a baby is like no other experience a woman will go through and because of the ups and downs of her hormones throughout and after the pregnancy, a myriad of emotions are felt. Sometimes there are excessive emotions but when do you worry that you’re in the territory of post-partum depression? There is an increasing amount of awareness on this subject and a lot of support resources for women who experience it.

The Baby Blues

The baby blues are often what happens after a baby is born. Being over-tired and going through such a life changing experience can leave a woman emotional and weepy. She might do a lot of crying at the drop of a hat. This is normal.

After the baby is born, other hormones kick in to get milk flowing and the body tries to return to a state of semi-normal. In the coming weeks the mother works on an on-demand schedule for her baby. It’s not for some time that she can actually get a routine and schedule together so it can be an overwhelming time with little sleep, recuperating and in some cases, dealing with the fact that she has to also nurture the rest of her family.

Post Partum Depression

When do you suspect that the baby blues morph into post partum depression? Post partum depression can also be called PPD or Postnatal depression. If it has been many months since your baby was born or if your feelings of being overwhelmed are more than fleeting, you might want to get some help. Post partum depression can be difficult to overcome on your own. A support system is helpful. In some cases, women go to extremes including hurting themselves or others so it’s not something that should be disregarded. Hormonal dysfunction can be very serious and can even result in harmful or psychotic behavior if left untreated.

Some of the symptoms to watch for include:

• Extreme exhaustion
• Hopelessness
• Social withdrawal
• Anger towards others and towards self
• Panic / anxiety attacks
• Difficulty eating
• Difficulty sleeping

Risk Factors for PPD

Risk factors for post partum depression vary but some include:

• Stress
• Single parenthood
• Lack of family support
• Financial difficulty
• Infant colic
• History of depression

Some women suffer from PPD after their first pregnancy but for others, they may have had previous pregnancies and never suffered any depression problems. This problem can seemingly come from nowhere in a subsequent birth and doesn’t always happen immediately after the baby is born; it can arrive months from then.

Getting Help for Post Partum Depression

Help for post partum hormonal problems can come with counseling and / or medication such as antidepressants or hormone therapy. It’s important that the woman suffering can have as much help as possible from her spouse and family and / or friends who can help her by cheering her up, helping with the baby and other children if applicable as well as around the house. Minimizing the stress and helping to dispel her feelings of being overwhelmed while supporting her emotionally can be helpful and healing can come with time.

PPD Drugs

Various drugs could be prescribed to help with hormonal levels and reduce the symptoms of post natal depression. Various drugs exist that can help including: antidepressants, hormone therapy through medication, cream or skin patches.

If a woman is breastfeeding she may choose to alter her treatment option in order to prevent the crossover of drugs to the baby’s milk. If specific drugs such as anti-psychotic drugs are necessary, it might be advisable for the woman to transition the baby to infant formula instead so that her condition can be adequately treated.

Whether the woman takes medication or attempts to get through this difficult time on her own, it’s a good idea to talk to others. Whether that’s through counseling or with a support group there are a lot of varied resources available including books, online resources and local support groups as well.

Being able to voice your concerns and talk about your feelings with others that understand what you are going through and who have perhaps dealt with post partum depression and overcome it can be extremely helpful.

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