You Are Not Alone.
10-20 percent of women develop a mood disorder during perinatal period (pregnancy up to one year after delivery)
You Are Not to Blame.
The exact causes of PPD are still unknown. We do know that the pregnancy and postpartum periods are times of enormous biochemical upheaval, as well as a time of social and psychological adjustments, all of which create the conditions for PPD.
You Will Get Better.
The good news is the Postpartum Mood Disorders are highly treatable. With proper education and intervention, mothers are likely to make a full recovery. When fathers are involved in this process, the couple’s relationship is likely to make a full recovery as well.
PPD, or Perinatal Mood Disorder, is the name given to a wide range of emotional and physiological reactions to pregnancy and childbirth.
A woman suffering from a perinatal mood disorder may experience one or a combination of symptoms, each ranging from mild to severe. Examples are:
- Exhaustion, insomnia
- Anxiety, tension, panic
- Hopelessness, tearfulness
- Poor concentration, memory loss
- Rapid mood swings
- Obsessions, frightening recurring thoughts
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Self doubt, low self-esteem
- Eating disturbances
- Feeling distance/removed from or lack of love for baby and/or partner
Call your doctor if:
- Your baby blues don’t go away after 2 weeks
- Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or obsession get more and more intense
- Symptoms of depression begin any time after delivery, even many months later
- It is hard for you to perform tasks at work or at home
- You cannot care for yourself or your baby
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby (national hot line: 1-800-273-8255)
Good days can alternate with bad days. All of these symptoms can be equally distressing for the mother, and often leave her feeling like she’s “going crazy.”
Treatment for PPD varies depending on the type and severity of symptoms. All of the symptoms, from mild to severe, are temporary and treatable with support and skilled professional help.
Why Does It Happen?
Current research indicates that this disorder is related to the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are directly responsible for how we feel and are affected by heredity, hormonal changes and the environment.
While we wait for answers on the causes, it is important to realize that PPD is a physical disorder, probably hormonally based, and that it is not self-induced. A woman cannot “pull herself out of it” any more than she could if she had the flu, diabetes or heart disease.
Take Care of Yourself! (Steps to Wellness)
- Exercise/Time for Oneself
- Sharing the problem with non-judgmental people
- Referrals to professionals
- Medication, if indicated
Ten Coping Strategies
- Joining a PPD support group, locally http://www.meetup.com/postpartum-108/
- Setting goals for the day
- Nurturing the couple’s relationship (time away from the baby)
- Asking for help
- Accepting help
- Finding resources for support and help
- Investigating insurance options
- Looking at the work situation (should I go back to work?)
- Managing financial problems
- Discovering free and low-cost activities