How to Identify and Treat Postpartum Depression

Although the arrival of the baby is an exciting time, some mothers may experience an intense sense of sadness. How do you recognize this condition? And how can you treat postpartum depression? Read to find out the answers to these questions and more.
How to Identify and Treat Postpartum Depression

Last update: 01 June, 2021

Although the arrival of a baby is a very emotional moment for the family, some mothers may experience an unexplainable and intense sense of sadness that persists over time. Today, we want to go into detail regarding this subject and talk about how to identify and treat postpartum depression.

According to a study by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, this type of depression affects 10-15% of women. In fact, just because a woman wants to have a baby and plans her pregnancy doesn’t mean she can’t suffer from postpartum depression.

Apparently, the sudden drop in hormones that the body experiences after birth may be a key trigger of this condition. However, it’s not the only contributing factor.

However, one of the hardest parts of suffering from postpartum depression can be having to deal with social and family prejudices. That’s because, despite being a frequent problem, there are still many people who dismiss and misunderstand this condition. As a result, many women repress their feelings in order to appear fine and happy. Let’s go deeper.

What’s postpartum depression?

A worried mother holding her newborn.

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that usually appears after giving birth or even two to three months later. It’s characterized by extreme sadness, a feeling of physical and mental exhaustion, anxiety, and general malaise. These symptoms can last anywhere from several weeks to months.

At first, it’s easy to confuse this disorder with postpartum sadness. However, the difference is that, in postpartum depression, the symptoms are more intense and long-lasting. What’s more, they interfere with the ability to care for the baby and perform everyday tasks.

In this way, women often experience great difficulty in bonding with their children. And all that, on top of feelings of worthlessness and not being a good mother.

Many women are ashamed of how they feel and don’t ask for help. A big part of the reason is society’s view of the birth of a baby as a time of joy and excitement. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no right way to deal with motherhood. Therefore, it’s important to ask for help when we’re not feeling well.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

As we said, it can be difficult to distinguish between postpartum depression or a simple reaction to the fatigue and stress of motherhood. However, when a state of intense sadness and despair occurs, one can begin to consider this problem. Some of the main symptoms are the following:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness.
  • Intense and prolonged crying without knowing why.
  • Loss of interest in activities that were enjoyable.
  • Excessive worry about this new stage.
  • Inability to bond with the baby.
  • Difficulty sleeping at night and sleepiness.
  • Lack of appetite, or, on the contrary, overeating due to anxiety.
  • Feeling of excessive guilt or uselessness.
  • Agitation or laziness.
  • Loss of concentration and difficulty in making decisions.
  • Constant irritation or anger.
  • Social and family isolation.
  • Loss of interest in the baby’s care.
  • Feeling very tired and unable to get out of bed.

How to treat postpartum depression?

A mother crying in a psychological consultation.

It’s difficult to determine how long postpartum depression will last. However, most cases improve within a matter of weeks. Whatever the case, doctors state that it’s important to treat postpartum depression early on in order to prevent the prolongation of symptoms.

The treatment of postpartum depression is very similar to that of any other depression. However, before resorting to medication, doctors usually recommend psychological therapy sessions, especially when the mother is breastfeeding the baby.

Psychotherapy may take place individually or in a group setting. If necessary, it’s advisable to carry out family therapy to work together with the couple or certain close relatives.

In addition, it will be necessary for the mother to rest well and eat healthily. The constant practice of healthy habits helps to improve the state of mind and decrease the risk of relapses.

Strategies to prevent postpartum depression

A happy mother and her baby.

Since there are multiple factors that lead to postpartum depression, it’s difficult to say if it’s preventable. However, by taking into account certain aspects before and after giving birth, you can minimize the risk. Some positive measures are the following:

  • Sleep well every day and try to rest when necessary.
  • Seek support from other mothers who have gone through the same situation.
  • Go for a daily walk and take advantage of gentle exercise: Walking or stretching.
  • Don’t make comparisons with other people.
  • Simplify household tasks. This isn’t a moment to have everything shining.
  • Postpone visits to be able to rest.
  • Eat foods that improve your state of mind.
  • Increase your intake of water and healthy liquids (juices, broths, infusions).
  • Dedicate time to your relationship with your partner.
  • Look for distractions (shopping, watching a movie, having dinner with the family)
  • Practice methods of relaxation and deep breathing
  • Work on self-esteem.
  • Resolve doubts about motherhood.

Do you think you have some of the symptoms of postpartum depression? Don’t ignore them! Even if you’re worried about what others might think, you need to ask for help in order to treat postpartum depression and overcome it. If you suppress how you feel, it can get worse over time.

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