Onset and duration
Post partum depression also referred to as post natal depression, is a type of clinical depression affecting both sexes but usually women it affects more than 1 in 10 women.
It usually begins between two weeks to a month after delivery. Recent studies have shown that fifty percent of episodes begin prior to delivery. Postpartum depression may also occur in women who have suffered a miscarriage. It can interfere with normal maternal- infant bonding and can adversely affect child development, in rare cases the depression can appear as postpartum psychosis this is a serious mental health disorder which often results in hospital admission. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations paranoia. The rate is higher in women with bipolar affective disorder. It is often a medical emergency.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased libido
- Feeling inadequate
- Unable to take care or bond with the baby.
This list is not exhaustitive.
Hormonal changes, major life events.
Prenatal depression or anxiety, a personal family history of depression. Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms, previous stillbirth or miscarriage. These maybe risk factors.
Studies have shown a correlation between a mother’s race, and post partum depression. African American mothers have been shown to have the highest risk at 25%; Asians had the lowest at 11.5%
Another factor showed that violence against women has increased the possibility of post partum depression.
Postpartum depression in the DSM-5 is known as a depressive disorder with per partum onset, per partum is defined as starting anytime during pregnancy or within the four weeks following delivery. A lot of experts continue to diagnose postpartum depression with onset anytime in the first year of delivery.
A GP may use a depression screening questionnaire. According to the National Health Service in England the GP will probably ask two questions:
“Have you been bothered by feeling down or depressed or hopeless during the past month?”
“Have you been bothered by taking little or no pleasure in taking part in activities, that usually make you happy”
A patient who says yes to both is likely to have postpartum depression.
The GP will probably order some diagnostic tests such as a blood test to rule out any hormonal problems or thyroid problems etc
.Treatment and recovery
This will vary from individual to individual and depending on the severity of your depression and individual needs.
The two main treatments are medication, and psychotherapy.
Antidepressants can be used but if you are breast feeding, it is important to remember you can only use certain ones.
Talking therapy or talking to a psychologist, is often helpful as you can talk thorough your concerns.
In some cases post partum depression can become a chronic depression. It is important to continue treatment even if you feel better, as stopping treatment too soon may cause a relapse.
Staying fit and taking regular exercise can also help prevent depression. Also having a balanced diet and avoiding too much alcohol.
If you experience any of the symptoms it is important to seek help early and speak to the medical professionals.
Claudette is a passionate campaigner and activist for mental health stigma and domestic abuse. She believes that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their disability or gender. She has diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Claudette has a certificate in Management studies. Her interests include beauty, makeup, animals politics, current affairs and social networking.