Finding a lasting solution to postpartum mental health disorders seems difficult, despite the drastic approach by physicians and researchers.
Studies show that most pregnancies and childbirth are at the onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The anxiety disorder comes with “Thoughts, urges or behavioral activities that persist regardless of its negative effects on one’s health, job or relationships”.
In this article, we shall be discussing postpartum mental health disorders. The types, causes, symptoms, and diagnosis will also be discussed.
What is Postpartum Mental Health Disorder?
Postpartum periods come with lots of emotions as a result of anticipation, fulfilment, happiness, and joy. These feelings may result in worries, confusion, guilt, and frustration.
All these emotions make such women vulnerable to lots of mental illness during the perinatal period. This is why severe cases of postpartum health disorders should be recognized and diagnosed for treatment immediately.
Because if such conditions are not treated. It can have adverse effects on the mother and infant relationship. In some cases, the condition can be severe and may result in the hospitalization of either the mother or the infant.
Types of postpartum mental health disorders
The following are the three types of postpartum mental health disorders;
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Blue
- Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum depression occurs after two to three months of a child’s delivery or immediately after a child’s birth. Biological, physical, emotional, and social transformations are characteristics of women who suffer from postpartum depression.
Following a child’s birth, a woman’s body changes. This is due to the series of processes that persists during pregnancy and delivery. Cases of most postpartum depression occur as a result of complications during delivery.
Having kept a baby inside your body for up to 9 months. After delivery, The weight and other transformations in your body will return to their normal self. These continual changes will come with lots of unusual provocations in your body system.
Although it is not normal to have postpartum depression after delivery. Yet, it is natural and it does not depict any serious health condition.
According to CDC studies, 1 in every 10 women in the US experiences major episodes of postpartum depression after delivery. Even though some are so simple to manage without being noticed. Some postpartum depression can linger for a long time. This can have serious emotional and psychological effects on nursing mothers.
This is why one of the most important things you should do after delivery is self-therapy. Having your baby is something pleasing enough that can derive your whole attention. It is natural to feel so. But, there’s another important task you should take note of. “Focusing on your body”.
You may see this as a herculean task, considering that you have a baby to take care of. You have to be wary of afterbirth syndromes like postpartum depression. It can cost you a lot of disturbance which can result in serious ailments.
Postpartum depression can have a serious health impact on mothers and infants if not diagnosed early and properly treated.
According to beyond blue, nearly one in six new moms experience postnatal depression. They discussed the story of Shantelle, a Barkindji woman, who recovered from postnatal depression. She connected deeply with her culture and found peace on the Jiu-Jitsu mat.
Symptoms of Postpartum depression
- Depressed or sad mood
- Sleep disturbance
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of guilt
- Change in appetite
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of worthlessness
Postpartum Blues is another perinatal mental health issue that happens to women. According to studies, 80% of women experience postpartum blues in the first weeks of their child’s delivery.
Postpartum blues is a normal postpartum mental health challenge due to its continued prevalence. Despite that, severe cases of postpartum blues can result in serious health issues if not treated.
The symptoms are characterized by;
- Mood swings
- Unprovoked irritations etc.
Women who have records of depression may have severe cases for up to two weeks. Meanwhile, it can take less than a day for some people.
In either of these cases, postpartum blues do not stop a woman from functioning. Also, the blues are unsettling and unpredictable as they can fluctuate sometimes and reduce to a very low least within a short period.
Postpartum blues usually occurs during the first weeks of a child’s birth and fades away. This is a great relief to both mother and child.
Moreover, even though postpartum blues aren’t a serious psychiatric illness. If the symptoms persist for a long period, then it is advisable to visit a health professional for advice. There is no special treatment for that. So, play safe and embrace the moment while it lasts.
The most severe type of postpartum mental health disorder is psychosis. It is very rare and uncommon among women. Statistics show that 1 to 2 percent of women have postpartum psychosis. Sometimes even none at a time.
The condition always emerges immediately after delivery, 48 to 72 hours. The symptoms can last for up to two weeks depending on how drastic it is being approached. Postpartum psychosis is often characterized by dramatic actions.
The most common symptoms of postpartum psychiatric psychosis are irritability, insomnia, and restlessness. The effects are gruesome in most cases as it spans from swift changing of mood, and confusion to disorganized behaviors, etc.
Severe cases may result in a delusion that is always centered on the infants. Most of the victims of postpartum psychosis complain of an internal auditory hallucination. These hallucinations come with a strong urge to hurt the baby or themselves. Many of the undiscovered postpartum psychosis cases always result in killing the baby or suicide.
Causes of Postpartum Mental Health Disorders
Although Postpartum mental health disorders are natural. Yet, most of the problems are traced back to a series of previous defects in the woman’s health condition. In some cases, such issues may be a result of emotional damages, experience, or hypochondriacs.
Below are the most common causes of postpartum mental disorders in women.
People who do not have a good experience beforehand tend to suffer more from postpartum mental health issues. Such a person who’s pregnant for the first time is a novice in managing themselves during these situations. Do not miss your prenatal check-up. If possible, ask experienced or nursing mothers to put you through some things.
Cesarean sections or other Natal & Perinatal complications
Although people with vaginal delivery may still have postpartum mental health disorders. But it is not as common as Cesarean sections.
Postpartum mental health disorders may also arise due to intense labor during delivery. In either of the delivery methods, your body will change immediately after delivery. You’ve to give it some time to heal and recover.
History of psychotic illness
Do you have a history of psychotic illness? You’re likely to suffer from postpartum mental health disorders after delivery. To play safe, kindly seek consultation from your physicians before and after delivery.
Often, people who gave birth outside marriage tend to have perinatal mental health illnesses. Good numbers of them may arise due to loneliness, or emotional blackmail (depending on your geographical location). These flocks of emotions when combined can cause postpartum mental health disorders in a nursing mother.
Other Causes of Postpartum Mental Health Disorders Includes:
- Family history of psychiatric illness
- Previous experience of postpartum disorder
- Stressful life events especially during pregnancy
- History of sexual abuse
- Vulnerable personality traits and social isolation or an unsupportive spouse.
How Does Giving Birth Affect Your Postpartum Mental Health?
After giving birth, your body will change a lot. You’re likely to encounter both emotional and physical changes.
These changes come with lots of strange behaviors and emotions. They can affect both your physical and psychological activities. All these feelings are postpartum mental health disorders and they’re common.
What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Mental Health Behaviors?
Almost all women have one postpartum mental health disorder or another after their pregnancy. Unfortunately, few of them can recognize and pay attention to them.
The most common symptoms of postpartum mental health disorders are;
- Loss of appetite for almost everything
- Inability to bond with the baby
- Distraction or lack of concentration
- Mood swings etc.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a high tendency that you’ll have postpartum disorders after a child’s birth. Try to check your body and report any unusual health problems to a health professional.
Postpartum Mental Health; Who’s at Risk?
Postpartum mental health disorders leave no one during their effect. Both the mother and infants are at risk of suffering from one ailment or the other if neglected.
The mother is mainly affected by postpartum blues and postpartum depression. Although, it may hurt the infant if left to persist for a long time.
The most common type of postpartum mental health illness that places the child at higher risk is postpartum psychosis. In this situation, the woman experiences an auditory hallucination. Such hallucination comes with a strong urge to hurt the baby. Even so, severe cases leave no one saved between the two regardless of who’s affected.
Where can I get help for Postpartum Mental Health Problems?
Postpartum mental health disorders are treatable and can be managed. The best way to manage yourself during the postpartum period is to check your body every bit.
Do not hesitate to visit a health professional if you’re having any signs of health problems. Psychotherapy and medication are also proven hacks that overcome postpartum mental health problems.
You may have to build a support network. Having good social interactions with people will help to cheer you up and may also give you emotional support.
You do not need to engage in tough exercises. You can begin with walking and dancing. Sometimes you can visit gymnastics (only if they’ve some specific postpartum exercises that suit your health at the moment).
Diagnosis and Treatment for Postpartum Mental Health Disorders
Do not feign to disburse every detail of your postpartum experience in cases where medical help is needed.
Share all possible symptoms with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Treatment and recovery for postpartum mental health are different for every type of postpartum mental health issue.
Below are the possible, suitable treatments for each type of postpartum illness;
There’s no special treatment for postpartum blue or baby blue. The symptoms persist for a few days and fade.
While waiting to recover from this disorder, do well to exercise healthy tips. Have enough rest, sleep when necessary, connect with friends and eat healthy foods.
You also do not need special treatment for postpartum depression. Please visit a psychologist or any mental health professional if you experience symptoms of postpartum depression.
Medications such as Antidepressants can be useful at the recommendation of your physician. Follow them and continue the treatment until you’re fine.
If you perceive any symptoms of postpartum psychosis, kindly hurry to the hospital immediately. The type of treatment you’ll receive depends on how critical your situation is.
Most postpartum psychosis cases are treated with antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and mood stabilizers. Severe cases of postpartum psychosis can also be treated through Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
NB: All diagnoses and treatments are done by professionals. Avoid self-diagnosis and medications. Make sure every treatment is done with the doctor’s recommendations.
It is normal to suffer from postpartum mental health disorders. Although not everyone will have severe cases. If you experience any serious health condition, kindly visit the hospital for a check-up.
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