New moms face a variety of struggles as they adjust to life with a newborn. Lack of sleep, a healing body and continuous fatigue, paired with learning a new schedule and trying to keep a new baby content, are just a few of the challenges a new mother must navigate. Pregnancy and the act of giving birth can also trigger a woman to become bipolar after pregnancy.
For new mothers experiencing bouts of depression, it’s important to get screened for postpartum bipolar depression and to understand what to look for in order to receive appropriate care. This guide explains what PPD is and the most common forms of treatment.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Bipolar and postpartum depression (PPD) is a form of long-lasting depression that affects 1 in 9 women after pregnancy. The condition impacts your brain function, your behavior and your physical health. It’s characterized by feelings of hopelessness and sadness that don’t go away after several weeks. Many mothers describe PPD as feeling disconnected from your baby, your family, your friends and anything that once sparked joy in you.
While PPD can affect any new mother and even men after pregnancy, you may be more at risk if you have a family history of depression or bipolar depression. You may be more susceptible to the disorder if you lack family support, have had problems after a previous pregnancy, are 20 years of age or younger and have struggled with alcohol or substance addiction.
Mothers with special-needs babies and those with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies may also have a higher occurrence of PPD than those who have healthy or planned pregnancies. Even with adequate treatment, PPD can last up to a year or longer, but typically lasts from 3 to 6 months.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
PPD is generally any form of depression after childbirth that lasts for more than 2 weeks. The symptoms of this illness can include:
- Feelings of restlessness or moodiness
- Prolonged bouts of feeling sad or hopeless
- Periods of uncontrolled crying
- Thoughts of harming your newborn child or yourself
- Lack of interest in your newborn
- Inability to care for yourself
- Loss of pleasure in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed
- Withdrawal from family and friends
How Does Postpartum Depression Differ From Baby Blues?
Nearly 70 to 80% of all women struggle with some sort of negative feelings after giving birth, which are most often referred to as the baby blues. The baby blues are different from bipolar and postpartum depression in that these feelings generally last only 1 to 2 weeks as a mother adjusts to life with a newborn. They alternate between being proud to be a new parent, happy to be caring for a new person and being upset and crying because they’re overwhelmed and worried about doing a good enough job.
The baby blues tend to go away with adequate sleep, exercise and getting help from other family members, but the condition can linger and turn into PPD if a mother doesn’t focus on some form of self-care.
Risks of Untreated Bipolar After Pregnancy Disorders
PPD often goes untreated because many women are ashamed or embarrassed to reach out for help. They may feel guilty for not feeling happy about having a new child in the home or they might doubt their competence as a mother. It’s important to understand that these feelings of sadness and self-doubt are completely normal and with treatment can be overcome.
Not getting help for your postpartum depression can result in excessive fatigue, thoughts of suicide and the inability to meet the needs of your baby and yourself. In some cases, a mother with PPD may neglect her child to the point that the baby can experience developmental delays, a lack of mother-child bonding and higher risks of childhood obesity. The child may also have difficulties dealing with stress.
What Are Common Steps Taken to Treat Postpartum Depression?
The first step to treat PPD is through proper diagnosis. Many women are afraid to come forward, which results in many cases going untreated. The most common, effective form of treatment for PPD is prescription antidepressants. This treatment is not always possible for women who are breastfeeding or who become pregnant again soon after giving birth. Psychotherapy, which can help you learn to manage your feelings and mood swings, is an alternative to medication, though the two can also work in tandem effectively.
Support groups are also an excellent way to learn how to manage negative feelings. These groups tend to meet weekly or monthly and offer advice and stories from other women who’ve dealt with or are dealing with similar circumstances.
Additional ways to deal with PPD include getting help from loved ones and friends and focusing on your physical well-being. Be sure to get enough sleep and learn to talk openly and honestly with your partner about your thoughts and feelings. Talk to your family doctor or obstetrician to find out if it’s ok to exercise; then, incorporate regular walks into your daily routine. Learn to put unimportant tasks on hold while you focus your time and attention on you and your baby. Also try to decrease stress from less important responsibilities.
If you ever become overwhelmed or feel like harming yourself or your child, it’s important to contact your local hospital emergency room or your mental health professional’s emergency number for postpartum depression help.
Success Rate of Postpartum Depression Treatments
The good news about PPD is that it’s a treatable condition, and treatments have a high success rate: approximately 80% of patients recover fully. Early detection of PPD and immediate treatment can help you return to normalcy and effective management of your daily life more quickly.
Get Help With FHE Health
If you or a new parent you know is dealing with the challenges of new parenthood, it can be difficult to see how to manage the new stressors and naturally intense emotions. Reaching out for help can give you respite from your depression and start the healing process.
At FHE Health, we can provide the intervention and professional support you need to help you feel better through diagnosis and PPD treatment. Contact our caring staff members, who can provide answers about our programs and get you started on the path to recovery, today.