Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Postpartum Depression – A Review

Statistics show that postpartum depression affects one in every four new mothers. It occurs usually within a day or a week of giving birth. Postpartum depression is also called 'baby blues' and usually lasts for a few days after childbirth. However, in some cases it might last for several weeks. That's when it is a worrisome issue. Postpartum depression could last for several months and years if untreated. It could also turn into a medical emergency situation when it becomes depression psychosis.

What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Mild symptoms include laziness, dullness, changes in diet and sleeping patterns along with a disinterest in the self or the baby. Mood swings, refusal to get out of bed, irritation, inability to focus or take decision are all part of symptoms of postpartum depression. Symptoms are similar to what women experience during normal hormonal changes. However, if untreated these symptoms could worsen leading to extreme thoughts about committing suicide or even hurting the baby. Several women suffering from postpartum depression say they had feelings of inadequacy about looking after the baby. This made them lose self esteem and they started to worry unnecessarily about even routine household issues. These symptoms also affect family relations and could have a psychological impact also. Experts say mostly postpartum depression goes untreated in primary care clinics. It is important that new mothers do not dismiss the symptoms but discuss them with their doctor.

What are the Screening Tests for Postpartum Depression?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) does not list postpartum depression separately from other types of depression. However, it lists the 'Postpartum Onset' symptom details that are said to occur within four weeks of having given birth.

This most popular formal system of screening for postpartum depression is known as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This is used in widely in America, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. The Scale includes a questionnaire with a 10-item form. Women can score themselves on the questions and discuss the final score with their doctor. Australian experts say there is nothing to worry unless the score is 12.5 or more in which case it would require medical help. However, some doctors say the method is not fully effective in the diagnose of postpartum depression and results vary depending upon individual temperament and medical history.

What are the Treatments Available for Postpartum Depression?

Ironically, doctors treat postpartum depression like any other depression giving anti-depressants and muscle-relaxants. Some doctors also suggest some kind of hormonal treatment because hormonal changes cause postpartum depression. However, a holistic approach with a natural cure is the ideal solution for postpartum depression. Drugs like anti-depressants and muscle-relaxants are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. Combining a proper diet and exercise routine with a natural cure is ideal for handling postpartum depression. There are no side effects with natural cures. If required, therapy with a psychiatric could also be taken. Family support is very important in helping women with postpartum depression. Women should discuss their depression with their spouse and other close family members. Some men too suffer from postpartum depression and they should also follow a similar treatment plan.

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