Postpartum depression is a serious condition that many mothers suffer after giving birth. Physical and emotional changes take place in a woman when she is pregnant and after she gives birth. New mothers often feel sad, anxious, afraid, or confused. When these feelings do not go away and when a woman's ability to function is affected, a woman may be diagnosed with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can be treated with medication and counseling. If a woman does not seek treatment, symptoms may worsen and the depression may last for as long as one year.
Postpartum depression involves many symptoms. Some of the symptoms that one may experience with this disorder include feelings of irritability and restlessness, lack of energy, not being able to sleep or sleeping excessively, not eating or overeating, excessive worry about the baby, lack of interest in the baby, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and the fear of hurting the baby or oneself. .
Women of all ages, economic statuses, and ethnic backgrounds are at risk for getting postpartum depression. This disorder may affect any woman who is pregnant, who has had a baby within the past few months, miscarried, or recently weaned a child from breastfeeding. New mothers and women with more than one child have equal chances of developing PPD. Research has shown that women who have experienced depression in the past are more at risk for PPD than women who have not had a history of depression.
The cause of postpartum depression is not known for sure, however the symptoms may be triggered by hormonal changes in the woman's body. The amount of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone increase in a woman's body during pregnancy. The amount of these hormones then rapidly drops in the first 24 hours after childbirth. Researchers think that these changes may lead to the depression. There are several other factors that may contribute to PPD, such as not getting enough rest after delivery, feeling overwhelmed with a new baby to take care of, feeling stress from changes in work and home routines, and having feelings of loss, including loss of identity, loss of control, and loss of attractiveness.