Baby blues is a common phenomenon experienced by mothers after giving birth but it can turn into a serious disorder called Postpartum Depression if it goes untreated. The birth of a child has been termed as one of the happiest times of a mother’s life and it is certainly a miracle but there are some new mothers who are struck by depression which makes it hard for them to see the child as a gift in their lives. Contrary to beliefs of the past, it is not the fault of the mother nor is it brought upon by her own intentions; it is a mental health complication and should be treated as such.
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a pervasive mental health problem which often refers to what is known as postnatal depression i.e. depression which occurs post childbirth. The individual can be said to have this particular kind of depression if the mood swings are extreme and the period of depression lasts more than 2 weeks. In some cases, it can last for more than a year.
PPD is characterized by certain symptoms that appear within 6 weeks of childbirth. PPD is diagnosed after two weeks of continuous low mood and the afflicted individual would manifest symptoms like low appetite, guilt, low energy, disturbed sleep cycle, memory and focus problems, decreased sex drive, frustration, alienation from the baby and family and thoughts of committing suicide and harming the baby.
PPD and baby blues might seem similar but baby blues include spells of crying, anger, fatigue and frustration that last 2 weeks or less while the symptoms of PPD are severe and continue for a long time.
This non-psychotic depression affects the mother, child and family members. The mother is afflicted with the above mentioned symptoms. The inability to fulfill the role of a loving mother often increases the risk for alcohol consumption, substance use and smoking.
Infants of a mother with PPD are also affected as the mother’s attitude towards the children can result in a child having trouble in developing issues such as managing emotions and relationships later in life.
If you feel that you might have PPD then you need to seek treatment from a mental health professional as soon as possible because not only is it affecting you, it is causing serious problems for the baby too.
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Thurgood, S., Avery, D. M. & Williamson, L. (2009). Postpartum Depression (PPD). American Journal of Clinical Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.aapsus.org/wp-content/uploads/Postpartum-Depression.pdf
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