Postpartum Depression Worldwide, about 350 million people suffer from depression. Of those 350 million people, about 10-15% of the depressed women have postpartum depression. Women develop postpartum depression after giving birth, and it is most common to develop in the first three months after birth.
Fathers can develop it as well, but these cases are more rare. Even if treated, postpartum depression can last for more than one year after childbirth. If not treated, it can last for as much as three years after giving birth.
This is also a very widespread condition, with about one in every seven women worldwide suffering from it. To develop postpartum depression an individual must first, of course, have given birth. There are also several risk factors and causes of postpartum depression.
Some biological factors of this condition are swift changes in reproductive hormone levels during and after pregnancy. Also, any history of or recent depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or any other mental disorder are all major risk factors in developing this condition. Any stress from having medical problems during or as a result of the pregnancy, or just the daunting stress of caring for a newborn could also contribute. Furthermore, things such as a lack of support from family or friends, marital problems or abuse, and low economic status can also add to the risk of developing postpartum depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can range from mild to a lot more severe. For example, a change in appetite or sleep could be symptoms of depression, and so are suicidal thoughts/tendencies and feelings of worthlessness. Some other symptoms are a lack of concentration or focus, constant irritability, profound sadness, intense fatigue, either intense anxiety about the baby or a lack of interest in it, a severe sense of inadequacy about motherhood, and a fear of potentially harming the baby. Many of these symptoms stem from nervousness and unsureness about themselves as mothers and how they will do when given the daunting task of motherhood.
Postpartum depression has effects on both mother and child. For the child, the negative effects do not necessarily just happen in their infancy, but can progress into their childhood and have effects on them when they grow older as well. They could have had inadequate care as an infant, which could cause things such as lower interaction, a lower cognitive performance, and the development of depression or anxiety disorders in themselves as they grow older. For the mother, one effect could be as extreme as suicide, because one symptom of depression in general is suicidal thoughts or tendencies. However, she could also have feelings of intense and constant fatigue, with very little interest in her baby or just no energy to care for it at all.
Without proper treatment for postpartum depression, the affected mother could grow progressively worse, and her depression could constantly worsen if not battled.Postpartum depression is treated very similarly to how any other depression is treated. One treatment method is counseling or therapy. One type of counseling is called interpersonal therapy, which helps people work through difficult personal relationships which may be affecting them negatively. Another one is called cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps them change their pessimistic and gloomy thoughts and behaviors. Another treatment method is through medication.
Antidepressants work on brain chemicals and get everything back into order. However, some are not safe for women to take while breastfeeding, so some women opt for counseling instead. These treatments could also be done together. Through this project, we learned more about depression in general, but specifically postpartum depression, which was our main focus. We learned that it was not simply “baby blues” after having a baby, that go away after a week or so and everything goes back to normal. Postpartum depression is very different and very serious, just like any other form of depression.
We also found out how seriously it could affect both the baby and the mother. A mother could basically stop caring for her child, which can have many different negative effects on the child throughout its life. We learned about different symptoms of postpartum depression and how it differs from more common depression. The treatments, we found, were also very similar, except for some women not being able to take medication because of breastfeeding. We also found it interesting that the fathers could also develop postpartum depression in some cases, but it does not happen too often. In general, we learned a lot of information about postpartum depression, such as the symptoms, effects, and treatments.