After childbirth, you may experience symptoms such as “I don’t feel well,” “I can’t sleep,” or “My body is too heavy to get up”. You may not feel that your baby is cute, and you may feel anxious about raising your child. You may wonder if you are the only one who is suffering from depression, or how long this condition will continue.
However, it is a common condition after childbirth, amidst changes in child-rearing and life. However, in some cases, postpartum depression may develop and require treatment.
Let’s learn what postpartum depression is, the tendency and causes of those who are prone to it, how to prevent and cope with it, and check whether your current condition will improve with time or whether you need to see a doctor.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is the feeling of sadness, misery, and loss of interest in things after childbirth for no reason. The symptoms can last from a few weeks to several months or more. This can interfere with daily life and childcare.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
Although they vary from person to person, the main symptoms are as follows
- Feeling depressed all the time
- Crying from time to time
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Feeling “I’m so bad…”
- Movement and speech are slower than before
- You feel tired and have no energy.
- You feel like you are a worthless person (an unworthy mother).
- You cannot concentrate on housework and childcare.
- You forget things too often.
- You worry excessively about the baby.
- You become indifferent to the baby.
- You have trouble coping with things (housework, cooking).
- Only think pessimistically.
- Sometimes you want to disappear from the world (suicide attempts)
What is the difference between postpartum depression and maternity blues?
About 3 to 10 days after childbirth, a woman may experience feelings of sadness, misery, or tears without any reason. This is called “maternity blues”. It is caused by changes in the balance of follicular hormone (estrogen) and luteal hormone (progesterone) secretion associated with childbirth, fatigue from childbirth, and lack of sleep.
It is experienced by 30-50% of the population and is not uncommon. These feelings usually subside within two weeks, so there is little to worry about.
When does postpartum depression occur?
Postpartum depression is suspected when the symptoms of maternity blues do not improve for more than two weeks or when the symptoms become more intense. It can appear after a long time, so you need to be vigilant until about 3 months postpartum.
If you continue to feel unwell, blame yourself and feel like dying, have trouble sleeping, have an abnormal appetite, or feel tired, please see a psychiatrist, psychosomatic medicine specialist, or your obstetrician/gynecologist as soon as possible.
Possible causes of postpartum depression
The causes of postpartum depression are not clearly understood, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of several factors. The following are just a few examples, and factors vary from person to person.
Postpartum hormone imbalance
Hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormones, etc.) drop rapidly with childbirth, causing a hormonal imbalance.
Stress from childcare
After childbirth, the mother is in a constant state of stress due to a lack of sleep from feeding the baby every two hours, unfamiliar care, and lack of time for herself.
Concerns about health problems in the child
This is a time when you are likely to be concerned about whether your child has any congenital diseases or other concerns about the level of growth or mental or physical health issues.
History of depression or other mental illness
In some cases, people who have had depression or other mental illnesses in the past may develop depression after giving birth.
Stress due to problems with a partner
Financial problems during and after pregnancy and childbirth, absence of a partner, or marital problems may be the cause.
Treatment for postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is a “depression,” so treatment is the same as for normal depression. However, postpartum depression can harm the baby if it becomes severe, so careful monitoring by those around the patient is necessary.
If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression…, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are hesitant to visit a psychosomatic medicine or psychiatry department, you may consult your obstetrician/gynecologist at the time of delivery and ask for a referral to a specialist.
Treatment with psychotherapy and medication
Psychotherapy (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy) is used to restore the factors and thought processes that cause negative or pessimistic feelings to the correct state, and antidepressants and psychotropic drugs are taken at the same time.
In most cases, medications that do not affect breastfeeding are prescribed, but please consult with your attending obstetrician whether or not you will continue breastfeeding.
Are there tendencies in people prone to postpartum depression?
Anyone can suffer from maternity blues or postpartum depression, but the following characteristics are known as the most likely types.
- Have been depressed over small things during pregnancy, or have felt sad for no reason.
- You have made up your mind that this is the way they are going to raise your child, and you are trying to do it.
- You have no one but your husband to complain to or ask for advice about child-rearing or daily life.
- You are a meticulous person and have an aversion to sloppy living or sloppy housework.
- You are not a good stress reliever.
- A perfectionist who is strict with yourself and others.
This disorder often occurs in people who are known to be hardworking and firm in everything they do, and people who easily get worked up. It is important to take it easy and say, “My first priority is raising my child, and there are some things I can’t do.”
What to do if you think you may have postpartum depression
Not only postpartum depression, but also postpartum mothers are in an unstable state of mind. If you feel “a little depressed” or “tired,” try to resolve it as soon as possible.
Write down your concerns and questions about childcare.
If you have any concerns about childcare, write them down instead of thinking about them alone. It will also help you when you consult a doctor.
Ask for help saying “It’s hard, it’s tough, I’m tired!”
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your husband or family, and tell them what you want them to do or hear. Instead of getting angry that they don’t “get it,” try to say aloud, “Please do….”
Make time for yourself.
Leave the baby once in a while and take a break alone to go shopping, go to the movies, etc. to refresh yourself.
Outsource housework and childcare.
It is easy to become anxious or depressed when you and your baby are alone in a room. By having a professional, such as a housekeeper or babysitter, take care of your child, you will have more time to take care of your child.
Talk with other mothers about common problems.
Mothers with babies share similar concerns. Try going to parks, childcare support facilities, or sharing information on social networking sites to hear from many other people.
If you have any concerns, don’t make decisions on your own, but consult with a specialist.
It is common to experience emotional instability after childbirth. There is no need to feel anxious or frightened. It is important to be willing to accept that this is just for now and that it is normal that you are not able to do it.
However, if the negative feelings are strong for too long, please do not worry alone, but consult with those around you and see a specialist as soon as possible.
Postpartum depression could occur to anyone once you have a baby. Therefore, if you feel tired or when you find something is wrong with you/your mind, don’t hold everything on your own. Ask for help to people around you or specialists.