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FAQ: What is Postpartum Anxiety and Postpartum Depression?
A woman undergoes many changes during pregnancy and after the birth of the child. These changes are physical, mental and emotional and psychological in nature. There are also many social changes in the woman’s environment that come into play after giving birth to her baby. Additionally, the internal hormonal changes impact and drive the mother’s response to these changes as well
Types of Postnatal Mental Health Challenges
1. Baby Blues
These are experienced by most women after giving birth to their baby. This is marked by sudden mood swings (suddenly happy to suddenly sad), bouts of crying, impatience, irritability, loneliness and mild anxiety. These symptoms last for a few hours or days to a couple of weeks after giving birth. It doesn’t require professional help and fades on its own. Meeting fellow mothers or joining online and/or offline support groups can be extremely helpful.
2. Postpartum psychosis
This is a serious mental illness. This is a rare condition that affects as few as one in a thousand new mothers. This is marked by severe symptoms like delusions (irrational beliefs), visual and auditory hallucinations along with insomnia, restlessness, anger, strange feelings and behaviours. This condition requires immediate medical treatment. Sometimes, the mother might need hospitalization if she is at a risk for hurting self or other(s).
3. Postpartum anxiety (PPA) and
4. Postpartum depression (PPD)
These two are overlapping and there is not enough research done to fully understand how they relate. Over time it has been learnt that what we call postpartum depression has significant anxiety symptoms. However, distinguishing between them can help plan the treatment better. EPDS, a scale to measure postnatal depression, finds that -
Even though many symptoms between PPA and PPD are overlapping, the striking symptoms of PPA are constant and excessive worries, panic attacks, self-doubt, feelings of tension, inability to relax, sleep disturbances etc while the classic symptoms of PPD are sadness, tearfulness, appetite changes, decreased libido, feelings of helplessness/worthlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances etc.
PPD has many signs and symptoms that start showing within the first 3 weeks of childbirth. These symptoms are persistent and don’t often go away without treatment. These symptoms also have a major component of anxiety. Not everyone experiences every symptom. But here’s a compilation of symptoms that a mother with PPD may experience.
Some severe symptoms include
Research suggests that PPD can happen due to a combination of reasons. In fact, there have been correlations observed between PPD and other conditions. Some likely reasons that might cause or predispose a woman to develop PPD are listed below.
Treatment is based on the onset of symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.
PPD and Breastfeeding :
Research has suggested that -
Research also suggests that breastfeeding difficulties can cause stress which can contribute to developing PPD. Therefore, it is important for a mother to receive adequate and efficient breastfeeding support.
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