By Jamell Andrews
Some very strong emotions usually erupt following the birth of a baby. While most new mothers experience a combination of excitement, anxiety, fear, or happiness, some women also experience symptoms of depression. In fact, about 10% of new mothers develop a more severe type of depression known as postpartum depression.
What it really means
When new mothers develop postpartum depression, it does not mean that they are bad or that something is wrong with them. The fact is that postpartum depression is sometimes just a natural thing that goes along with having a baby.
Currently, researchers do not know exactly what causes this condition to develop in some women, but it is believed that a combination of different factors play a role.
- Lifestyle factors – there are many other things that may be going on in a new mother’s life that could cause her to develop postpartum depression. These things might include financial problems, lack of support from loved ones, exhaustion, or demanding older children.
- Physical changes – estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically after childbirth, which can be contributing factors in the development of the condition. Other physical changes that can occur include changes in blood pressure or volume, immune system changes, or fluctuations in metabolism. All of these can lead to the development of postpartum depression.
- Emotional factors – having a newborn baby means functioning on very little sleep, which makes it more difficult to handle even the most basic of issues. Some women also start feeling like they are losing control over their lives. When emotions start fluctuating wildly, women are more likely to develop this condition.
Risk and Treatment
Postpartum depression can occur in any woman after giving birth. It is not only first time mothers who are at risk. The risk of developing postpartum depression increases for women with the following conditions:
- A pregnancy that was unplanned
- Marital, or other relationship conflict
- A history of depression at any time in her life
- A pregnancy that was not wanted
- The past year has included a host of significant stressful events such as losing a job, or having complications throughout pregnancy
There are actually a few different successful treatment methods that can be used to treat postpartum depression. Antidepressants are routinely used, even for women who are breast-feeding. While some antidepressants can cause side effects in babies, there are some that can be prescribed that do not adversely affect infants.
Often times counseling is an excellent solution for new moms who are experiencing postpartum depression. If women have someone impartial to talk to, it can make a world of difference, particularly when they are experiencing a variety of problems and emotions that seem to overwhelm them.
Lastly, hormone therapy can help in some instances to reverse the negative effects that the sudden drop in estrogen creates. If estrogen levels are regulated, it can help women to find some relief from the symptoms of depression that they have been experiencing.