The birth of a child should be a joyous event, but for approximately 80% of mothers, it is the opposite.
In addition to the 80% of mothers who suffer from the Baby Blues, approximately 20% of new mothers suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD). The Baby Blues are brought on by the hormonal changes that take place in a woman’s body after the birth of a child. Symptoms include mood swings, irritability, crying, anxiety, trouble sleeping and sadness. While this condition is not pleasant for anyone, it is generally not serious and fades after a few days or weeks.
“PPD can be brought about by hormone changes, but also stress, lack of sleep, and relationship changes within the family.”
The more serious and long-lasting variety of these feelings is called Postpartum Depression and can have more serious complications. While some of the symptoms are the same as the Baby Blues, PPD can also result in withdrawal from family and friends, feelings of guilt or shame, lack of joy, and difficulty bonding with the baby. PPD can be brought about by hormone changes, but also stress, lack of sleep, and relationship changes within the family.
PPD can be diagnosed by a medical provider and may require blood tests to determine if the mother’s thyroid gland is working properly. Left untreated, it can progress into a chronic depressive disorder and lead to inadequate bonding between mother and child. PPD is usually treated by counseling and medication, but exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and visiting with other mothers can also help.
The most severe type of reaction is called Postpartum Psychosis (PPP) and requires immediate medical attention. PPP is characterized by hallucinations, irrational thoughts, paranoia, delusions, confusion and attempts to harm oneself and the baby. It is linked to bipolar disorder and mothers have a greater chance of developing it if they have a personal or family history of bipolar disorder. PPP can be diagnosed by a physician and may be treated with hospitalization and medication.
The important thing to remember is that it is not the mother’s fault. These changes are brought about by hormonal fluctuations that are out of her control. If you or someone you know may be suffering from any of these disorders, it is best to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.