What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression — PPD — is a medical problem that requires medical intervention. It is an illness just like diabetes or arthritis. It is not a moral weakness.
PPD is a very particular kind of depression that occurs after pregnancy (sometimes during pregnancy) and is triggered by the profound hormonal changes that you have undergone in pregnancy and the birth process. During the nine months of pregnancy, two female hormones – estrogen and progesterone – increase dramatically. In the twenty-four hours after the birth process, those hormones drop dramatically, to their normal, pre-pregnancy levels.
More than the change in the levels of those hormones in your body, researchers believe it is the dramatic drop in hormone levels that can contribute to PPD, in much the same way that smaller changes in hormones can affect your mood during your menstrual cycle.
In some women, thyroid hormones also drop after the birth process,diminishing your metabolism. Low thyroid levels have long been associated with the decreased interest, irritability, fatigue, difficulty in concentration, sleep problems and weight gain so commonly associated with depression. (It’s important to rule this out).
Of course, there are other, environmental triggers that contribute to PPD. After all, you have just had a baby! You are exhausted from labor and delivery. Your sleep patterns have been completely disrupted. You’re tired!
There are personality traits to take into consideration, psychosocial impacts, physiological, and general losses to consider, psychodynamic concerns and lack
of social support. All of which are important risk factors for PPD, and can add up.
If you are like many new mothers, you feel overwhelmed with a new, or additional, baby to care for. You doubt your ability to be the kind of mother you want to be. Changes in your normal routines – at work and at home – are difficult to accommodate. You look in the mirror and you see someone you don’t recognize. (You feel alone). Remember, PPD is more common than you imagine.
PPD is a term that is used to describe six postpartum mood disorders. (It’s somewhat like an umbrella term). The following are the six different mood disorders which have been given different names by different experts, but the general idea is the following:
1. Baby Blues/Adjustment
2. Postpartum Depression
3. Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
4. Postpartum Panic or Anxiety Disorder