Postpartum depression is a disorder that affects mothers and fathers after the birth of a baby. The arrival of a child is a major upheaval in our lives and our emotions take a hit: joy, fear, excitement, depression...
It is important to distinguish the baby blues from postpartum depression. The former is a mild disorder (mood swings, stress) that is temporary, while the latter presents more serious, long-term problems and must be treated.
Postpartum depression: definition
The term is subject to multiple controversies but one thing is certain, it is a depression that occurs after birth. We can define it as a non-psychotic episode of major depressive disorder.
While some psychologists and psychiatrists admit that it can occur up to 3 months after delivery, the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that it can occur within 12 months after delivery.
It affects 10-15% of women and this disorder has unfortunately increased during the Covid-19 crisis.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
Here are the most common symptoms:
- Stress and anxiety for no good reason
- Feeling sad
- Mood swings: irritability and anger
- Guilt: that you are not taking good care of your baby or that you do not love your baby enough
- Feeling that you are not a good parent
- Inability to spend time with your child (strong rejection)
- Fear or panic (mostly related to the baby)
- Lack of interest in self or baby
- Sleep problems: difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too long
- Feeling tired
- Appetite problems
- Feeling miserable
- Uncontrollable crying
- Having suicidal or self-harming thoughts
If you or your spouse are experiencing these symptoms, that you are not feeling well, do NOT hesitate to consult a doctor or psychologist. It is important to identify this illness because it can also have consequences in the development of the child and especially a complicated mother-child or father-child relationship.
So above all: doctor, psychologist and if you need to talk to LigneParents
Postpartum depression for the father: possible?
Of course, although it affects more women than men, this disorder also occurs in fathers. You should not hesitate to talk about it, you are just as legitimate and should ask for help.
The symptoms are generally less visible and anger and irritability may be more frequent.
- thyroid dysfunction
- lower prolactin levels
- higher levels of progesterone
- increased sensitivity to hormonal changes following childbirth
- complications during pregnancy and childbirth
That occur during or after pregnancy.
- death of a loved one
- the arrival of the baby which can be very stressful
- difficulties in bonding with baby
Family or personal history
- past depression
- father or mother prone to depression or mood disorders
A lack of support
- from family members, spouse
- a single parent will have a higher risk
Consequences for the child
Particularly during the first year of life, babies need a strong, loving relationship with their attachment figure(s).
A parent with postpartum depression may have difficulty communicating with their child or having positive interactions. He or she may have difficulty recognizing and responding to all of the signals sent by the baby. Facial expressions and speech may also be less empathetic, more "flat".
This will lead to different behaviors in children: in demand (screaming, crying) and less known and used facial expressions.
Their entire cognitive, emotional and social development may be altered. The attachment bond between baby and parents, which is VERY IMPORTANT, can be disrupted..
What to do?
Postpartum depression is treated :
- By antidepressants
- Support from a psychologist
Consult your doctor and a psychologist who will be able to help you. Nothing can replace a health professional.
In addition to these so-called clinical treatments, it is important to take care of yourself and your baby. This includes :
- a good sleep hygiene (complicated with baby, we know, but ask your family and friends to help you)
- keeping a social circle: seeing or calling your friends, going for a walk with baby in a baby carrier or sling and talking to other young mothers who are affected by this disorder
- encourage the creation of an attachment bond: skin to skin, keep baby constantly against you thanks to the sling and above all respond to baby's needs (to learn more, click here)
- take care of yourself : physical activity, eating well :)
Slight point on the "Baby blues”
Not to be confused with postpartum depression, the baby blue occurs between the 3rd and 6th day after delivery. The sudden drop in hormones is responsible for the baby blues.
Mood swings, fatigue, stress and irritability are the recurring symptoms. It affects between 30 and 80% of women.
How long does the baby blues last?
Being really temporary, it lasts from a few hours to two weeks maximum.
How to avoid the baby blues
Due to a drop in hormones, it is difficult to avoid! However, in order for this state to pass quickly:
- Rest +++
- Support from loved ones
- Change your mind and take care of yourself
- A Systematic Review of Prevalence and Incidence
- Heterogeneity of postpartum depression: a latent class analysis
- Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
- Child Psychiatry