Breaking the Stigma: Talking About Postpartum Depression & Postpartum Psychosis


I. Introduction

The birth of a child is a time of great joy for many families, but it can also be a time of great stress and anxiety for some new mothers. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are two mental health conditions that can occur after a woman gives birth.

According to the American Psychological Association, postpartum depression affects approximately one in every seven women, whereas postpartum psychosis affects approximately one in every 1,000 new mothers.

Despite the prevalence of these conditions, many women are too embarrassed to seek help. It is critical to raise awareness about postpartum mental health issues and encourage new mothers to seek the help they require.

II. What is Postpartum?

The postpartum period, also known as puerperium, lasts 6 weeks after childbirth, during which time the body tissues, specifically the pelvic organs, return to their pre-pregnancy state anatomically and physiologically.

Mental illness is frequent in the first three months after delivery. The overall incidence ranges between 15 and 20%. Sleep deprivation, hormone elevation near the end of pregnancy, and severe postpartum withdrawal all increase the risk.

III. What are the symptoms of postpartum mental illness?

Postpartum refers to the time after childbirth, and women may experience a variety of postpartum conditions, including postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum psychosis.

Each of these conditions has its own set of symptoms, but some common postpartum symptoms include:

  • Sadness or a sense of emptiness
  • Panic, anxiety, or anxiety attacks
  • Irritability, agitation, or rage
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Sleeping difficulties or excessive sleep
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities or people
  • Difficulties concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Feelings of unworthiness or guilt
  • Suicidal or self-harming thoughts

It is normal for new mothers to experience some emotional changes in the first few weeks after giving birth, but if these symptoms persist or interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her baby, she should seek medical attention. Therapy, medication, and support from loved ones and mental health professionals can all be used to treat postpartum conditions.

IV. What is Postpartum Blues or Baby Blues?

Postpartum blues, also known as “baby blues,” are a common and temporary condition that many new mothers experience in the days following childbirth. It is estimated that up to 80% of new mothers experience postpartum blues.

Postpartum depression or anxiety are not the same as postpartum blues. It is a less serious condition that usually resolves on its own within a few days to two weeks of delivery. The cause of postpartum blues is unknown, but it is believed to be related to hormonal changes that occur during and after childbirth.

Symptoms of postpartum blues may include:

  • Swings in mood
  • Anxiety or worries
  • Irritability
  • Weeping or crying spells
  • Difficulties sleeping, concentrating, or remembering things
  • Exhaustion or fatigue

Postpartum blues, unlike postpartum depression or anxiety, usually does not require treatment. To cope with the challenges of caring for newborns, new mothers should seek support and assistance from their healthcare providers, loved ones, and community resources.

If postpartum blues symptoms last longer than two weeks or worsen, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as postpartum depression, and professional help should be sought.

V. What is postpartum anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that some women experience following the birth of their child. It is a common condition that affects about 10% of new mothers and is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, a lack of sleep, and the stress of caring for a newborn.

Postpartum anxiety is defined by persistent and excessive worry or fear about everyday things like the baby’s health, the safety of the home, or the mother’s ability to care for her child. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations, nausea, and trembling.

Other symptoms of postpartum anxiety may include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Sleeping difficulties, even when the baby is sleeping
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Obsessive thoughts or behaviors concerning the safety or well-being of the baby
  • Avoidance of potentially stressful social situations or locations
  • Constantly checking on the baby, even while they are sleeping

Therapy, medication, and support from loved ones and mental health professionals can all be used to treat postpartum anxiety. Women experiencing postpartum anxiety should seek help from their healthcare provider as early intervention can result in a better outcome.

VI. What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression or PPD is a type of mood disorder that can occur after giving birth. It is not the same as the “baby blues.”

Postpartum depression symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last for several weeks or even months.

What Causes Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression‘s exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, hormonal changes, genetic factors, and environmental stressors.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

Sadness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating are all common symptoms of Postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression Risk Factors

In subsequent pregnancies, the risk of recurrence is high, ranging from 50 to 100%.

How is postpartum depression treated

For women suffering from Postpartum depression, treatment options include therapy, medication, and support groups. Women must seek help and support from healthcare professionals and loved ones.

Medication for postpartum depression

There are several medications that can be used to treat postpartum depression, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and atypical antidepressants.

Many women with Postpartum depression are embarrassed or ashamed to seek help, but it is crucial to acknowledge that Postpartum depression is a common and treatable condition. Addressing the stigma associated with mental health issues can be difficult, but it is essential to do so in order to help mothers receive the care they require.

VII. What is postpartum psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis or PPP is a severe mental health condition that can occur in the days or weeks following childbirth. The onset is usually within four days of delivery.

Postpartum psychosis is much rarer than Postpartum depression, but it is a much more serious condition. It is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Women with a history of psychosis or positive family history are more likely to be affected.

Symptoms of Postpartum psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, confusion, and mania. These symptoms can be frightening and can make it difficult for a woman to care for herself or her baby.

The risk of recurrence in a subsequent pregnancy is 20-25%, and there is also an increased risk of psychotic illness outside of pregnancy.

Treatment for postpartum psychosis

Women suffering from PPP need immediate medical attention and treatment. Hospitalization is frequently required to keep both the mother and the baby safe. PPP treatment may include medication, therapy, and counseling from mental health professionals. It is also critical that the mother’s family and loved ones seek support and resources to assist them in coping with the challenges of caring for a mother with Postpartum psychosis.

VIII. Conclusion

Postpartum mental health issues are common and can have a significant impact on the life of a new mother. It is vital to raise awareness about these conditions and to encourage new mothers to seek the necessary support and care. It is also important to tackle the stigma associated with mental health issues in order for women to feel comfortable seeking help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum mental health problems, there are resources available, such as mental health professionals, support groups, and hotlines. Taking care of a mother’s mental health is critical for both the mother’s and the baby’s well-being.