How to Recognize Post-Partum Depression
Having a baby changes everything in your life. Before birth, your body is pumping out additional hormones to help your baby grow inside the womb. After delivery, these hormones crash for a few weeks. It takes time for the body and brain come to terms with the crazy event that occurred after 9-months of pregnancy.
During the few weeks following pregnancy, you might find yourself dealing with a fragile emotional state. People and behaviors might start to irritate you, and you'll notice plenty of negative self-talk going on in your head. That's the power of hormones, and when they're deficient in our body, we start to experience adverse changes to our mental and physical state.
One of the most interesting conditions related to postpartum is the so-called "baby blues." Yes, the baby blues are a real thing. Contrary to what you might believe, they can affect anyone, regardless of their previous psychological history or current state of mind.
Around 60% to 80% of new mothers can get the baby blues, and they can last anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how long it takes the hormonal system to recover from the effects of the pregnancy.
When the Baby Blues are Part of the Game
The baby blues are formally known as "Postpartum Depression" (PPD). These lingering feelings of negative emotions and depression affect the way you feel all day, and it's different from person to person.
Women who are in stable relationships, and have a healthy baby, typically shake off these symptoms in a few weeks at most. The body and mind respond to the positive reinforcement in the situation, lifting hormone production back to normal levels.
However, some women might have environmental stressors in their life and relationships after birth. Complications with childbirth, addiction, abusive relationships, and financial worries are all examples of stressors that build anxiety and depression. Adding the strain of lower hormone production to all of this can lead some women to very dark places.
When Is Postpartum Depression a Problem?
Up to 15% of new mothers develop PPD. Most women will recover from the baby blues quickly, with no lasting effect. However, some mothers continue to receive the symptoms of depression and sadness well into three or four months after birth.
These women have a much more severe problem, and it's a condition that requires medical intervention in some cases. Women who are at the highest risk of developing PPD include the following.
- A personal or family history of depression or PPD
- Women that experience severe PMS symptoms
- Women who have a difficult delivery
- Women in unstable relationships
- Women who have no support structure
- Women that give birth to a chronically ill or congenitally-challenged baby
- Women who have their child die at birth or due to complications
While these are general risk factors, women outside these groups may also develop PPD. The symptoms of PPD are more severe than a simple run with the baby blues. The level of depression is generally more intense, and affected women can experience the following symptoms.
- A persistent feeling of negative emotions including sadness, hopelessness, and despair
- A lack of desire to take care of your child or yourself
- Emotions surrounding being a failure as a mom
- Feelings of tiredness and fatigue, even after sleeping well
- Anxiety and sensations of panic
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior or thoughts
One out of every 1,000 women dealing with PPD will develop a severe form of the condition that results in the development of "postpartum psychosis." Women with this disorder will experience hallucinations and delusions, along with the depression that may lead them to harm themselves or their child.
What Do I Do If I Think I Have Postpartum Depression?
If your baby blues aren't steadily improving over three weeks, mention it to your doctor. Depending on the situation, they may recommend visiting them for further bloodwork and an appointment with a clinical psychologist.
Some women find it hard to talk about dark emotions within the confines of their relationship. A neutral third party can help them break through the mental hurdles preventing them from recovering from the effects of postpartum depression.
Your doctor may recommend hormone therapy to give your estrogen levels a temporary boost. HRT introduces exogenous hormones into your body to replace the lack of natural production. The doctor monitors the therapy using blood tests and hormone panels to determine the correct dosage.
Red Light Therapy
RLT devices produce lightwaves from specialized LEDs, ranging from 610nm to 700nm. This wavelength interacts with your cells deep in your skin and muscle tissues. This action boosts your body's natural energy production, enhancing metabolism.
As a result of the therapy, you feel rejuvenated and restored, and you get the mental lift you need to break the cycle of depression. There is some debate around the difference between photobiomodulation lasers vs light emitting diodes, but we think both are valuable for postpartum women.
Lasers help restore the vagina's health after giving birth, vaporizing loose skin, while the red light therapy stimulates collagen production. A red light machine is an affordable investment in your mental and physical health postpartum.
How Do I Tell If I Have Postpartum Depression?
You need to visit your doctor if you suspect you are dealing with a case of PPD. Your physician will run you through a series of questions to determine the extent of your mental state. Some of the queries they include in your consultation may be the following.
- Do you find you blame yourself for things that went wrong with your pregnancy?
- Do you feel a sense of panic and dread in the background of your mind?
- Do you feel anxious without any good reason?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, you could be dealing with PPD. Speak to your doctor about the best course of treatment to assist with your recovery.
Your doctor may recommend a combination of the three treatments mentioned earlier, including a script for anti-depression medication.