Statistics say 25 per cent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is also known as PPD or 'baby blues'. Usually, the symptoms are mild and would pass off in a few days. However, some mothers experience postpartum depression for weeks. In chronic cases it can even last for years.
The early signs of postpartum depression range from mild irritation to feelings of loneliness. These could be followed by a heightened sense of frustration and inadequacy. As the depression worsens, the patient does not want to get out of bed and ends up disturbing her sleep and eating routine as well.
Most common signs of postpartum depression begin almost right after childbirth. These worsen as the patient shows lack of interest in the baby, or even negative feelings towards the baby. The patient feels worried about the baby. Alternatively, the patient can lose interest in the self also. There is loss of pleasure, motivation and energy. The patient starts feeling worthless and guilty about non-existent issues. There are changes in appetite and hunger also. Disturbances in the sleep cycle could be followed by thoughts of committing suicide.
Some women might suffer a delayed onset of postpartum depression.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is a screening tool that detects postpartum depression. It requires filling up a form on the basis of your symptoms that you could later discuss with your doctor.
If postpartum depression is not treated it could develop into postpartum psychosis. This is a rare, but very serious problem that can start right after childbirth. It includes disconnection from reality and includes a high risk for both infanticide and suicide. Hospitalization is required. Postpartum psychosis could develop suddenly in the first two weeks after having given birth. The signs include hallucinations, delusions, extreme anxiety, confusion and disorientation. Increasing mood swings happen in both postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
Women who have some history of any bipolar disorder have an increased risk of developing postpartum depression or psychosis. Most new mothers dismiss slight feelings of dullness and mood swings as passing 'baby blues' but these signs should not be taken lightly.
Conventional medicinal system depends on antidepressants and muscle relaxants to cure the signs of postpartum depression. Drugs have side effects. Additional psychotherapy might not be of much use either. What is required is a holistic approach to treat the signs of postpartum depression with natural and herbal cures that are safe. Some of the best natural cures when combined with a holistic approach could work wonders. A careful alteration in diet, adopting of a suitable exercise regime, and counseling would help treat postpartum depression permanent.
Family support is crucial in not only recognizing the signs of postpartum depression but in helping treat it properly also. Ironically, some new fathers might also experience postpartum depression though their percentage is quite low as compared to women. Would-be parents who are aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression could work together to handle the signs properly and effectively even before the depression sets in.