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Properties of Perinatal Depression, Post Partum Depression, and More

As mental health becomes more knowledgeable within society, more people become aware of the toll depression can take on someone. Although mental health is more acknowledged now, many are unaware of the extent and popularity of the many types of depression. There are nine different types of depression, including major depression, persistent depression, manic depression or bipolar disorder, depressive psychosis, perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal depression, situational depression, and atypical depression. Each type or category has its own characteristics and affects each person differently. Due to the variety, oftentimes people can be confused and struggle to distinguish between types. Several types are referred to by other names, for instance, perinatal depression can be referred to as postpartum depression, but there are slight differences in definition. Postpartum depression refers to depression occurring strictly after labor. On the other hand, perinatal depression is defined as depression occurring during pregnancy and 4 weeks after labor. Perinatal depression is a very serious issue that is very commonly overlooked, even more so than other categories of depression.

Perinatal depression can affect women in a large range of severity. Some women may report episodes of feeling down or extra sad than normal, while other women may report thoughts of harm to themselves or their child. Perinatal and postpartum depression is more severe than the commonly referred to as the condition of “baby blues''. Baby blues are described as mild mood changes, feelings of worry, exhaustion, and unhappiness within roughly 2 weeks after a woman gives birth. Baby blues is reported by many women and is normal under the circumstances that new mothers face. Roughly fifty to seventy-five percent of women report “baby blues”, and about fifteen percent of these women ultimately experience a more severe, long-lasting depression. This more severe depression would be what is considered postpartum depression. All symptoms of perinatal depression, postpartum depression, and baby blues should be reported to a healthcare professional. Common symptoms of perinatal and postpartum depression can include; an “empty” mood, irritability, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, loss of interest in hobbies, fatigue or abnormally low energy, restlessness or inability to sit still, difficulty concentrating or remembering, abnormal appetite, aches, and pains, difficulty bonding with the new baby, persistent doubt about being able to care for new baby, or thoughts about suicide, harming others, or harming the new baby. So many women experience these symptoms, and in a variety of combinations, so don’t be scared to seek help, or to ask questions

Another mental illness that some mothers face after labor is postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that is considered a medical emergency. When postpartum psychosis occurs it is important to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Postpartum psychosis, Commonly referred to as PP, can cause women to have delusions, hallucinations, mania, paranoia, and confusion. Women who have PP are at a higher risk of harming themselves and, or others. Even though the condition is very serious, recovery is possible with treatment.

A significant component of depression that is often misunderstood, or overlooked is what causes the depression, or symptoms, and what are the risk factors. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact “causes” of depression, but one thing is always true, and that is that being depressed is never the woman's own fault. Perinatal and postpartum depression, like most depressions, do not have just one single cause. Research has shown that perinatal depression is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Physical and emotional stress and changes in hormones that occur during and after birth can be significant factors in a woman's depression. The number one risk factor for perinatal or postpartum depression is family or prior history. With a close family history of either depression, as well as experiencing it yourself during a previous pregnancy then your risk increases significantly. Other risk factors could include being stressed before or at the start of pregnancy, substance abuse, being under 20 years of age, unplanned or unplanned pregnancy, being single or without a co-parent, and abruptly stopping the medication. If you fear experiencing perinatal or postpartum depression ask your health care provider about possible solutions or further information.

Mental illness can be very difficult to treat because of how wide the range of impact is from person to person. While treatment may be difficult or take time, it is important for the health of the child and the mother. Talk therapy is very important for perinatal and postpartum depression treatment, to help mothers understand that what they are experiencing is not their fault. This step can be very difficult if the mother is struggling to accept help. Some treatments focus on building oneself up to one's hopes and motivation. Emphasis on moving forward and doable fixes that can be worked on overtime. Medication is not an automatic solution for all mothers, each patient should be evaluated independently.

Depression can have a serious impact on a new mother, and those around her. It is important to understand what to look for, potential causes and risk factors, and treatment plans. Awareness and willingness to understand are two crucial components to improving mental health treatments.


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