Severe mood swings, excessive crying, insomnia, overwhelming fatigue and intense irritability are some of the symptoms associated to postpartum depression (PPD). Also known as postnatal depression, PPD is a clinical depression that is commonly associated with childbirth. According to the Postpartum Support International, approximately 15 percent of women experience significant depression following childbirth. The percentage is higher for women who go through poverty and twice as high for teen parents.
Many new mothers have to cope with a range of physical, emotional and behavioural changes after the delivery of their new born. The constant struggle during the first few months of postpartum could be physically and emotionally overwhelming to new parents. While some mothers may go through a short period of depression, some may go through a prolonged period if it is not well-managed.
Most of the PPD cases begin with the condition known as postpartum blues or more commonly referred as baby blues. Approximately 40 to 85 percent of new mothers would go through typical baby blues symptoms like lack of appetite and sleep, anxiety and increased emotional reactivity during the first few days. It is a common condition that does not require medical treatment. However, it is important to monitor the change as postpartum blues is an early precursor of postpartum depression, particularly among mothers with history of mood disorders.
Unlike postpartum blues, PPD often develops three weeks after delivery and lasts for months. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, over one-half of women remain depressed at 5 to 9 months and one-third of women are still depressed 12 to 18 months after childbirth.
Although the actual cause of PPD remains unknown, the article ‘Beyond the “baby blues” published in Harvard Health Publications stated that the combination of biological vulnerability, psychological factors and life stressors may have led to PPD. Thyroid deficiency could be one of the factors that triggers PPD. Pregnancy, sometimes, causes the thyroid gland to become underactive, which eventually brings down the mood and energy level.
Leong Kim Weng is a writer who writes about parenthood's articles. He uses this platform to reach out to the young parents. Writing for www.parentsdojo.com has given him the opportunity to learn and share interesting perspectives with others.