What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a disorder that affects new mothers with varying degrees of severity and usually begins between the sixth and twelfth weeks after the birth of their baby.
The new mother feels sad for no reason, irritable, prone to crying, and a sense of inadequacy.
It is to all intents and purposes a unipolar depression that differs from the more classic forms of the latter essentially for the particular period of onset (from one month to one year after the birth of the child).
The sadness of motherhood or third-day syndrome
DPP must be distinguished from another fairly common reaction, called “baby blues” (“blues” means melancholy), which involves an indefinable feeling of melancholy, sadness, irritability, and restlessness, peaking 3-4 days after delivery and then they disappear within a few days, usually within the first 10-15 days of delivery. Its manifestation is mainly due to the drastic hormonal change in the hours following childbirth (estrogen and progesterone collapse) and physical and mental exhaustion due to labor and delivery and can occur in over 70% of mothers.
Symptoms of the “baby blues”
Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Unstable mood
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Unjustified sadness
- Sudden and unmotivated crying.
- Difficult to focus
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or restless sleep)
Symptoms of postpartum depression
To speak of postpartum depression, two or more of the following symptoms (in particular, decreased mood and self-esteem, anxiety, and negative feelings towards the child) must be present with an intensity that compromises an acceptable psychophysical level. . regular well-being and activities:
- Deep sadness and despair for most of the day, without justification.
- Feeling of lack of energy and inability to care for the baby.
- Loss of interest in normal activities and inability to derive pleasure from normally stimulating and
- pleasant circumstances or situations.
- Strong mood swings and unmotivated crying.
- A desire for isolation from family members, including the child.
- Changes in appetite, resulting in significant weight loss/gain (more than 5 kg), unrelated to specific diets or diseases.
- Difficulty falling asleep or getting enough sleep (restless sleep or early awakening) or increased need for sleep, even during the day
- Agitation and anxiety
- Loss of self-esteem and confidence in one’s abilities persistent and unmotivated guilt, especially towards the child
- Decreased ability to concentrate and intellectual efficiency.
- Decreased sexual desire
- Recurring thoughts of death
- Physical problems without recognizable causes and which often do not respond to the therapies normally used to counter them (joint pain, headache, abdominal cramps, digestive disorders, dizziness, etc.)
- Treatment of postpartum depression sometimes requires hospitalization of the mother or temporary removal of the baby, provided the situation does not improve.
Are there diagnostic methods for PPD?
There are screening tools, for example, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) or the Edinburgh Scale, a 10-item questionnaire designed as a screening tool to improve the detection of postpartum depression, which aims to gather information on the factors that influence the emotionality. state. the welfare of new mothers and their families. the EPDS has been translated into more than 20 different languages.
The EPDS, in both rich and poor countries, has shown that postpartum depression is a common ailment that causes a lot of unnecessary suffering to women and their families and that such depression could adversely affect the development and care of the child. continuity of marriage and family finances.
Any woman who tests positive should have the opportunity to have a clinical interview and further studies, usually within 2 weeks.
What should you do as soon as you notice the problem?
Talking to someone you trust is often a relief, such as your partner or family. If the problem persists, it is also good to discuss it with your doctor. The problem is not solved by ignoring or hiding it. Conversely, a long-forgotten depression causes great suffering for both the woman who experiences it and her child, who does not receive the care and affection she needs to grow healthy and happy.
The serenity of the mother depends on that of her baby and vice versa.