What is Postpartum Depression? Symptoms, Causes and Complications

It is normal that after giving birth your emotions are more intense – the good and the bad – and you feel decayed or tired. However, if the symptoms last more than two weeks and you feel the weight is too much for your shoulders, you can be suffering postpartum depression.

What is postpartum depression?

It is of moderate or severe depression that occurs after giving birth. Usually begins about three months postpartum, but can occur immediately or up to a year later, and continuing for several months.

Postpartum depression affects between 10% and 15% of women in the postpartum stage (from birth until you return to your normal state before becoming pregnant, between 45 and 60 days postpartum). It can be caused by hormonal, psychological or social factors (more information at: causes depression postpartum and who are at higher risk )).

What I feel is normal or is postpartum depression?

After giving birth, you have a stage of extreme feelings and concerns.

It is commonly called sorrows of motherhood or baby blues (in English) and is due to hormonal changes, reset to your new life and emotions of having your baby. This type of disorder is fairly common (affects 80% of new mothers) and is not of utmost seriousness (disappears in a matter of a few weeks without treatment).

In moderation, the following symptoms are normal after giving birth:

  • Crying
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Doubts about your ability to be a mother
  • A feeling that motherhood is a too big responsibility and you can not handle

These symptoms usually disappear – unless they reduce a bit or they are overcome by all the positive feelings of motherhood – in a matter of a couple of weeks. When these symptoms are severe and extend for more than one month, it might be a postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to a depression at any time of your life, compounded by changes in your body and your new responsibility as the mother:

  • Changes in appetite (excess or lack of appetite)
  • Desires of isolate yourself or feeling of extreme solitude
  • Not interested in caring for yourself
  • Lack of interest in your activities
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Thoughts related to death, suicide or hurt you
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Difficult to concentrate
  • Severe memory problems
  • Headaches or other part of the body that do not go away
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Low self-esteem
  • Not enjoy activities that previously gave you pleasure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficult to carry out your daily tasks

Other symptoms are related to your attitude or your feelings towards the baby:

  • You have difficulty to establish attachment with your baby or costs relate to
  • You do not want to be alone with your baby because you’re not able to take care of it
  • You have resentment towards the baby, blame it for your situation, or think about hurting him
  • Worry too much for the baby, to the point that their mere presence causes you stress
  • You repent of your pregnancy and the birth of the baby

These all sound like very extreme thoughts, but are common and be thoughts – usually not materialize-, but can evolve or become rather a complication of postpartum depression.

Other complications of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis

In addition to the possible complications of a normal depression (such as the risk that can have on your health, social, labour and economic life), during the post-partum condition can also affect your baby, and this is one of the greatest risks.

If you suffer from post-partum depression may not be able to properly care for your small, are negligent or conveying her feelings of frustration, insecurity and anger. The consequences in your baby’s development include lack of attachment, delays in their physical, emotional, language and cognitive progress, inconsolable crying, and childhood behavior problems. Therefore it is important that you seek help as soon as possible.

In extreme cases, postpartum depression can become a postpartum psychosis, which affects one to four of every thousand women after giving birth. This complication includes all symptoms of depression and in addition:

  • Hallucinations (see things and people that are not there)
  • Confusion
  • Sudden changes and ends in your mood
  • Attempts to hurt you or hurt your baby
  • Bipolar or erratic behavior

Another complication, called postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, leads women to have extreme fears. In the majority of cases, this disorder manifests as obsession by the hygiene and safety of the baby, which can lead you to take measures such as washing hands constantly to hurt you, locked doors and windows for fear of intruders, hide weapons in your House to defend yourself or not bathe your baby for fear that choking.

Postpartum psychosis and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder can be treated successfully, but require immediate psychiatric attention.

 

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