Treatment For Postpartum Depression
Treatment for postpartum depression: advice on how to help yourself cope with the problems
Postpartum depression occurs in approximately one of ten chldbearing women and is extremely underdiagnosed. If left untreated, the disorder can have serious adverse effects on the mother and her relationshp with significant others, and on the child's emotional and psychological development.
Postpartum depression is very traumatic and can have lasting effects on a woman's confidence in herself as a mother and on her infant's development. Most women expect a period of adjustment after having a baby. First time moms are not familiar with exactly what it is supposed to feel like after having a baby, they may not realize why they are experiencing depression.
The biggest problem mothers experience is that they fear that they are going crazy and they are afraid that if anyone notices this, they will take their baby away from them.
A new mother may feel varying degrees of postpartum depression for a few weeks after the baby is born, a condition generally attributable to fatique, hormonal recovery, and emotional changes. If she feels overwhelmed by these "baby blues," she should discuss the situation with her doctor.
Doctors should go over the fact that post partum depression could possibly occur after birth and explain that this is a normal reaction. Here are some of the most commonly recognized symptoms:
Lack of pleasure or interest
Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia)
Loss of energy
Agitation or retardation
Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
Diminished concentration or indeciseveness
Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Tearfulness, anxiety, irritability
Mood lability, increased sensitivity and fatigue
The blues typically peak four to five days after delivery and may last hours to days and resolve by the 10th postnatal day. For most women the blues are short lived and evidence suggests that women who experience them have an increased risk for PMD later in the postpartum period, especially if the blues symptoms were severe. Some women who experience the "highs" (mild euphoria, increased energy) within the first few days of delivery are more likely to be depressed several months later. Therefore, mood swings in either direction after delivery are an indication for a more intensive follow up later in the postpartum period.
One very important fact to be aware of is that women who have a problem with depression before ever becoming pregnant have a higher tendancy to suffer from postpartum depression and should discuss this with their doctor so that they can be treated accordingly. Many women have to take antidepressants to help deal with the severe types of depression.
Postpartum depression often can feel debilitating. You feel as if you can hardly get out of bed in the morning and the things you once did easily now seem to require massive effort. It may be helpful to remember that you are not alone. Ten to twenty percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression and you are not to blame.
Here are some suggestions that women have found helpful in coping with postpartum depression:
1. Focus on goals for the day, rather than longer term goals, which may seem too difficult. Be sure that you have one thing to look forward to each day, such as a relaxing bath, time on the phone with a friend, a walk outside.
2. Take advantage of free and low cost activities. Libraries and churches often offer this kind of information as do local newspapers and parents' newspapers.
3. Look for opportunities to spend time with your partner and/or close friends. Time with adults will help you feel like yourself again.
4. Ask for help!! Do not be afraid to ask others for help and emotional support. This is not a time to try to be completely self sufficient.
5. Use the people around you as resources to help you find professional help and support. You may need a therapist, a psychiatrist, a support group or a nutritionist.
6. Evaluate your plans regarding work outside the home. Explore, and try to expand your options and choices. Do you need to get a job? Do you want to return to the same job? When will you be ready to return? Who can help you find a suitable job and child care? Do you need to take more time off, or cut down on your hours? If you need money to do this, you might ask for a loan or help from a family member or friend. If you have to return to work and you don't feel good about it, it may help to talk with a trusted friend.
7. Join a support group for new mothers and babies. You may be able to find a support group for mothers with postpartum depression. You may find groups listed at your library, your church, or the office of your health care provider.
There are many options for treating postpartum depression difficulties such as alternative treatments, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies, psychotherapy, medication and support groups. Remember that your well being is crucial to your baby's healthy development; therefore, be open to considering a range of treatments.
While you are in the midst of postpartum difficulties, you may wonder whether having a baby was a good idea. You may believe that motherhood will always be associated with emotional distress. It may be hard to imagine that your feelings about yourself, your baby, or your family will ever be joyful and loving. Give youself time to grow into the role of a mother. Give yourself time to explore and feel the aspects that true happiness of being a mother can bring!