What is postpartum depression?

Everyone has turning points in their life. Experiences such as marriage, birth and death sometimes change our lives irreversibly. One of the most important periods in a woman’s life is giving birth. The mother, who has experienced many physiological and psychological changes, may experience some difficulties in this process. One of the most important of these difficulties is postpartum depression.

What is the Postpartum Period?

The first 40 days after birth is called the puerperium period. Changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth begin to return to their former state during the puerperium. However, not every woman can adapt to this process immediately. While approximately 80% of women who have given birth experience sadness in labor, approximately 20% may experience postpartum depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The woman, who is now trying to adapt to the role of mother, may have difficulty returning to her previous social life.

From time to time, the mother does not want to take care of the baby and the baby. However, because of these thoughts, the mother may feel guilty and worry that she may harm her baby.

A state of constant restlessness, slowing of motor movements, irritability, feeling tired, sadness and a constant desire to cry can be seen.

In addition to the irregular sleep pattern of the newborn baby, when the puerperal depression is added, the state of insomnia may increase, and inattention and forgetfulness may occur.

As the mother’s anxiety level rises, panic attack symptoms may appear and she may talk about somatic complaints.

The belief that she does not care and love her baby enough can lead to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the mother.

The mother may pay less attention to her self-care, and her appetite may decrease or increase.

Suicidal thoughts may occur when postpartum depression worsens.

Causes and Treatment of Postpartum Depression

While the levels of some hormones increase during pregnancy, they decrease with birth. Especially estrogen and progesterone hormones undergo changes, and sometimes thyroid hormone may also decrease. Along with the rapid changes in hormone levels, the chemical structure of the brain may also change and psychological disorders such as postpartum depression may occur.

In addition to physiological factors, psychological factors such as insufficient social support, having a developmental problem in the baby, getting married at an early or advanced age, experiencing problems during birth, low socioeconomic level, previous loss of a child or miscarriage by the mother can also be effective.

Treatment Phase

It is very natural for the mother to experience such problems in the first 2 weeks after the birth. However, if these symptoms persist after 2 weeks, it should be suspected. In general, postpartum depression occurs within 6 weeks after delivery and can last up to 8 weeks. However, if left untreated, this process can take up to 2 years.

If the mother does not have suicidal thoughts, the treatment plan should be carried out with the mother. Depending on the presence and severity of symptoms, drug therapy, psychotherapy, or both can be used. There are misconceptions in society that a nursing mother cannot use psychiatric medication. If deemed necessary by the doctor, appropriate medication and drug dosage can be arranged for the nursing mother.

Some suggestions should be taken into account in order for the mother to get through this process more easily. First of all, having an experienced adult next to the mother and informing her about the physical and mental changes she will experience makes the mother feel more comfortable and safe. Especially during the breastfeeding process, the mother needs to spend a lot of time with the child, but opportunities should be created to spare time for herself and her social life as well as the baby. It should be ensured that the mother receives sufficient social support, limits should be set for the guests coming to the house, and the mother should be allowed to rest when the baby sleeps. In addition, it should be ensured that the mother exercises to protect her mental and physical health, stay away from alcohol and caffeine, and spend time outside the home.

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