Postpartum depression or in other words “PPD” is one of the most growing depressions out there. It is evaluated that approximately 0.5% to 61% of women suffer postpartum depression mood disorders (PPMDS) which also includes PPD.
What is PPD
New moms tend to face a lot of challenges in getting used to a life with a newborn. Dealing with lack of sleep, adjusting to a new job as a mom and even breast pain if you’re nursing can be one tough situation. Regardless of what people tell you, there is a certain deep emotional pain that comes after childbirth.
Most people tend to refer to this as “baby blues” which typically goes away after a week or two after childbirth, however, we’re talking about a severe form of clinical depression that is referred to as postpartum depression or PPD.
PPD is also referred to as postnatal depression, it is a type of depression that can affect both the parents after childbirth. PPD is more common than you think. One study conducted on 10,000 moms with newborns suggested that 1 in 7 women get postpartum depression. Luckily, for some mothers, dealing with this depression can be easy, whereas on most mothers this can be one difficult job to get over. Although there are many risk factors identified, the exact cause of this depression is still unknown, however, hormonal changes during and after pregnancy in women may be one of the reasons for it. The symptoms may include sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, mood swings and most importantly irritability.
Most of these symptoms go away after 2 weeks of childbirth, however, if these symptoms exceed for more than 2 weeks then the person may be suspected of PPD.
Reasons behind PPD.
There are many causes, however, the most common are:
- Hormones. Hormone levels tend to rise when you’re pregnant. A certain drop in these hormones after the baby is born can be one reason. The sudden change when that happens triggers depression in some women.
- History of depression. A familial history of depression or if you had depression before predisposes you to PPD.
- Stress. PPD tends to be more common in patients who are dealing with money issues, drugs or alcohol.
When can one be diagnosed with PPD?
There is no definite test that can indicate that someone has PPD. However, if you do visit your health care provider, for a good diagnosis, he/she will take a detailed history of your symptoms and most importantly if there were any disorders related to this that runs in your family. The criteria required for the diagnosis of postpartum depression is if you have five of the nine symptoms listed below within a two-week period:
- Feeling of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness every day.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Changes in your sleep pattern
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Loss of concentration
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble sleeping
Most commonly these symptoms may be seen immediately after birth, however, some medical researchers suggest that the onset of postpartum depression may occur in the first year after delivery.
Prevention of PPD
A lot of research work has been done regarding this disorder, a review done by Cochrane found that psychosocial or psychological intervention after childbirth helps to reduce the risk of postnatal depression.
These interventions include home visits, talking with telephone based friends and family support, and interpersonal psychotherapy (Psychotherapy that revolves around resolving personal problems).
As a practicing dentist, we’ve seen a lot of mothers going through PPD. Whenever we do get patients suffering from PPD I always tell them following methods listed below, these methods are research proven
- Talk it out. Talking to your doctor about these symptoms has proven to be very helpful. Furthermore, talk to your partner, your loved ones, let people know what you’re going through.
- Take it easy. Many studies have shown that new moms who spend 15 minutes relaxing either by doing yoga or by deep breathing are able to deal with the symptoms of depression.
- Take a nap when your baby sleeps. Always sleep whenever your baby sleeps. Remember one of the symptoms of PPD is sleeplessness. Making up for lost sleep can be one of the best things you do to yourself.
- Take some time to exercise. Besides yoga and deep breathing, exercise tends to help a lot with PPD.
- Motherhood. It is helpful if you consider your motherhood as a job. Most mothers tend to cope up with PPD better if they consider motherhood as a career change.
- Everyone has limits so do you. Don’t overburden yourself with work. If you’re a working mom, over time can make you vulnerable to PPD. Take some time off.
- Don’t expect to be perfect at everything.
- Nourishment. Don’t forget to keep a healthy diet and stay hydrated. Our brains need good proteins to produce the “feel good hormone” called serotonin.
People with such depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they’re depressed. Most women may not be even aware of the sign and symptoms. If you suspect to have PPD it’s better to visit your healthcare provider or talk to a friend before the situation worsens.
Dr. Ameerzeb Pirzada
Chief and Consultant dentist at Z Dental Studio
BDS, RDS, M-Phil, C-Implant