Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that is most commonly found in women shortly after giving birth. It can also be referred to as the “baby blues,” but the baby blues are an issue that is much less severe than postpartum depression. Although many people associate postpartum depression with women, it can also be found in men after having a child. The mortality rate of women that suffered with postpartum depression is about 6 percent, which may not seem very high but many doctors and psychologists estimate the true death toll number to be much higher than 6 percent. When discussions about depression break out, women and men with postpartum depression are often completely ignored and forgotten. Postpartum depression being left out of talks about depression and mental health can be the reason that the percent of mortality in women with postpartum depression is only reported as 6 percent. Many of the symptoms and treatments for postpartum depression are similar to symptoms and treatments for regular depression, which is not surprising seeing as though postpartum depression is just as important as regular depression.
Postpartum depression can be caused by a series of physical and emotional factors that come into play, specifically for a woman who recently gave birth and also for men who recently accompanied their significant other in labour and delivery. When women are pregnant, their hormone levels significantly increase. After giving birth, all of their hormone levels rapidly decrease and result in low thyroid hormone levels. Low thyroid hormone levels are one of the main causes for postpartum depression in women. Some other causes include: sleep deprivation, unhealthy diets, other undiscovered medical conditions, and drug or alcohol misuse. When giving childbirth or helping a significant other to do so, sleep deprivation can easily occur due to the wee hours of the night that one must stay up to care for the new baby. Unhealthy eating habits usually occur during pregnancy so after a woman gives birth, it is difficult to remove unhealthy eating habits and bounce back to healthy eating. Many people cope with alcohol when undergoing substantial stress which is unhealthy and damaging to their bodies. Women and men suffering with postpartum depression happen to be some of the people who resort to alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress. Unfortunately, they don’t see the potential dangers and harm they are doing to their mental and physical health. As a result, they consume a very unhealthy amount of alcohol which digs them deeper into the metaphorical hole or depression. These are all physical factors that cause postpartum depression; however, there are also many emotional factors causing postpartum depression, including: recent divorce, loss of a loved one, serious health problems with the mother or father of the child or the child themselves, social isolation, financial burdens, and lack of support. Recent divorce or loss of a loved one are linked to postpartum depression the same way they are linked with regular depression. Social isolation may not seem like a big deal, let alone a cause for postpartum depression; however, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, new mothers are not getting the needed support from their families and friends. All of the visitors and people that usually come over to help mothers that just gave birth are no longer available for women that give or gave birth during the pandemic. Being isolated for long periods of time has proven to be one of the easiest ways to develop postpartum depression amongst a woman or her significant other. Money is a big cause for postpartum depression because many women that give birth, or their spouses, do not have the money that they need to nourish themselves and their baby.
One of the most obvious yet most ignored symptoms of postpartum depression is feeling sad or crying a lot without knowing why. Another common symptom for postpartum depression is change in sleep patterns—sleeping for unusually long or short periods of time. Overeating, undereating, and binge eating are also large symptoms of postpartum depression. Many symptoms of postpartum depression are ignored by women and their husbands because the people that are close to them have dismissed their concerns and say that they are “just a wreck of hormones.” Far too often, they ignore the red flags that are showing up along with these symptoms. More symptoms of postpartum depression include: massive unexplainable mood swings, physical aches, and pains. Those who suffer with postpartum depression also may have difficulty focusing, constantly feel uncontrollable, drift emotionally away from loved ones, and have thoughts about harming themselves or their baby.
There are several ways to get a handle on the issue of postpartum depression before it escalates. Consult with a doctor and get seen by a certified medical professional who can verify if someone has postpartum depression. The treatment for postpartum depression is quite the same as the treatment for depression. Although it is simple treatment, only 15 percent of women suffering with postpartum depression are receiving professional help and treatment. The treatment consists of antidepressants and hormone therapy. Specific antidepressants that have worked excellently are: paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline. Some side effects of these antidepressants include: dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, and anxiety. Side effects of hormone therapy include: weight change, breast pain or tenderness, nausea, and vomiting.
There is no possible way to absolutely prevent postpartum depression; however, there are ways to reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression. Get a support system in place before childbirth. Be surrounded by loved ones or trustees who can offer the necessary moral support and physical aid. Maintain a healthy diet and incorporate daily exercise to ensure self-care. Staying involved in hobbies and getting plenty of sleep can also help reduce the chances of developing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is an issue that affects several new parents. By erasing the stigma surrounding it and educating parents on the symptoms and treatments, the heavy burden of this internal battle can be lightened.
“Everything You Need to Know About Postpartum Depression.” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/depression/postpartum-depression#in-men.
Shortsleeve, Cassie. “Suicide Is a Leading Cause of Death Among New Moms.” InStyle, Feb. 2020, www.instyle.com/beauty/health-fitness/maternal-suicide-postpartum-depression.