Postnatal Depression and Maternal Mental Health Disorders
FMHP proudly specializes in treating women’s issues such as Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders. However, my team and I also treat women who suffer from neonatal loss or any other woman-related issue. Understanding that with children come scheduling conflicts, we welcome you to bring your child(ren). As part of the postpartum treatment regime, our clinicians will go to your home for the first three sessions, and then you are encouraged to complete the remaining sessions at one of our main offices.
Approximately one in seven women suffer from perinatal depression. According to the CDC, one out of five women will suffer from postpartum depression. However, most women are left untreated due to the stigma associated with such illness. Moreover, most women, given that they just had a newborn, will not want to seek treatment due to the lack of sleep, and fatigue that comes with having a newborn. You may not feel “up to it”, or may feel that your body is not really ready to go out into the new world. Although most of these feelings are common and may be known as the “baby blues”, it is imperative that you consult with your doula, OBGYN, medical doctor, psychologist or mental health professional since talking about these emotions, changes, and challenges is one of the best ways to cope with the “baby blues”. Usually baby blues may appear for the first two to three weeks after having a newborn. However, baby blues may sometimes turn into postpartum depression.
How can you tell the difference?
For starters, what is postpartum?A term used following the birth of a child. Postnatal and postpartum are terms that can be used interchangeably. Perinatal is a term used to describe a time immediately before or after birth.
Symptoms of depression in postpartum women can manifest in different ways and in most cases are never the same. The more common are baby blues and postpartum depression.
- Baby Blues: – A common symptom of depression in women after having a baby is termed “baby blues”. Baby blues lasts approximately two or three weeks, and usually begin around four to five days following the birth of the baby where the mother may feel irritable, weepiness or crying for no reason, impatience, restlessness, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, mood changes and/or poor concentration.
- Postpartum Depression (PPD) – Prenatal/postpartum depression (PPD) (or postnatal depression) can involve feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, hopelessness, and sometimes, thoughts of harming the baby or oneself. Onset of such symptoms can begin at any time following the birth of a child up till one year after the child is born. Symptoms usually last for more than two weeks.
It’s important to understand that postpartum depression is often used incorrectly as a “catch all” or umbrella term. It’s not just depression. Maternal Mental Health Disorders (MMH) can show up as anxiety, obsessive compulsive thinking or even rage. Nonetheless, all of these should deserve the same amount of professional attention. Leaving an untreated postpartum depression may cause more complications for you and your baby.
In addition to PPD and Baby Blues, there is also:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: – Prenatal/postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might include repetitive, upsetting, and unwanted thoughts or mental images, known as obsessions. A woman also may have compulsions, where she does certain things over and over to reduce the anxiety caused by the unwanted thoughts. She is extremely disturbed by the thoughts, and very unlikely to ever act on them.
- Postpartum Anxiety: – Prenatal/postpartum anxiety (PPA) may be characterized by extreme worries and fears, often about the baby’s health and safety. Some women have panic attacks, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, and numbness and tingling.
- Postpartum Rage: – A symptom attributed to postpartum depression and/or where a mother feels this sense of uncontrolled anger that may come suddenly and often.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: – Postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often caused by a traumatic or frightening childbirth, or past trauma, particularly sexual abuse. Symptoms can include flashbacks to the trauma, with feelings of anxiety, and the need to avoid things related to the event.
- Postpartum Psychosis: – Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a break with reality. Women might see and hear voices or images that others can’t, called hallucinations, or delusions that tend to come with a religious theme. They may believe things that aren’t true and distrust those around them. They can encounter periods of confusion and memory loss, and seem manic. Though it’s relatively rare, psychosis is a severe, dangerous condition that needs immediate attention (Postpartum Support International, n.d.).
- Depression and Anxiety: – Depression and Anxiety are the most common complications in pregnancy and postpartum.
- La Depresion y la Ansiedad: – La depresión y la ansiedad son la causa #1 entre las complicaciones durante el embarazo y el posparto.
- The MMH Continuum of Care: – Women should be informed of MMH disorders and be assessed for risk prior to pregnancy, and screening and support should be provided throughout the perinatal period.
- Postpartum Social Support Screening: – Practical and emotional support is important in protecting against maternal mental health disorders; take this survey to see how your social support system measures up.