For most women, having a baby is a time of excitement and joy coupled with some stress. But for women with Postpartum or Peripartum Depression it can become highly difficult and disturbing. Postpartum Depression is a serious, but treatable medical illness encompassing feelings of extreme sadness, indifference and/or anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite. It comes with a risk for the mother and child. Peripartum Depression refers to depression associated with having a baby, often beginning during pregnancy or after childbirth. An estimated one in seven women experiences Peripartum Depression. If Peripartum/Postpartum Depression is negatively impacting your wellbeing Dr. Sidhu can you help you manage your symptoms with her expert diagnosis & compassionate care at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California. Book online or call our practice directly.
Up to 70 percent of all new mothers experience the “baby blues,” which is a temporary condition that doesn’t interfere with daily activities and doesn’t require medical treatment. Symptoms of this emotional condition may include: crying for no reason, irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. Typically, these symptoms last 1-2 weeks and generally resolve on their own without treatment.
Peripartum Depression is different from the “baby blues” because it is emotionally and physically debilitating and may continue for months. Getting treatment is very important for both the mother and baby.
Untreated Peripartum Depression is not only a problem for the mother’s health and quality of life, but can affect the well-being of the baby who can be born prematurely, with low birth weight. Peripartum Depression can cause bonding issues with the baby and can contribute to sleeping and feeding problems for the baby. In the longer-term, children of mothers with Peripartum Depression are at greater risk for cognitive, emotional, development and verbal deficits and impaired social skills.
Women are at increased risk of depression during or after pregnancy if they have previously experienced (or have a family history of) depression or other mood disorders, if they are experiencing particularly stressful life events in addition to the pregnancy, or if they don’t have the support of family and friends.
Research suggests that rapid changes in sex and stress hormones and thyroid levels during and after delivery have a strong effect on moods and may contribute to Peripartum Depression. Other factors that may contribute include physical changes with pregnancy, changes in relationships and at work, worries about parenting and lack of sleep.
New fathers can also experience symptoms of Postpartum Depression. Symptoms may include fatigue and changes in eating or sleeping. An estimated 4 percent of fathers experience depression in the first year after their child’s birth. Younger fathers, fathers with a history of depression and fathers with financial difficulties are at increased risk of experiencing depression.
Although it is recommended seeking psychotherapy first for women with moderate or severe depression or anxiety, antidepressant medication should be considered as a primary treatment, according to the guidelines. There are antidepressant medication options during pregnancy and Dr. Sidhu is happy to discuss what is best for you. In general, the risk of birth defects to the unborn baby are low, and the decision should be made based on the potential risks and benefits.
Leaving depression untreated during pregnancy/after childbirth not only has a negative impact on the mother but also the baby. Treatment for depression during pregnancy is critical. Many women may suffer in silence, thinking their struggles are just a normal part of pregnancy and childbirth and not seek care. Greater awareness and understanding can improve outcomes for mothers and their babies.
For more information on pregnancy/depression and psychiatric medications, see MotherToBaby from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, and Breastfeeding and Psychiatric Medications from Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Women’s Mental Health.
Peripartum Anxiety – approximately 16% of women experience an anxiety disorder during pregnancy and about 17% during the postpartum period. After giving birth, some women develop intense anxiety including rapid heart rate, a sense of impending doom as well as irrational fears and obsessions. Feeling guilty and blaming oneself when things go wrong, worrying and feeling panicky for no good reason can be signs of anxiety in the peripartum period. Dr. Sidhu can recommend appropriate medication while encouraging psychotherapy treatment with your therapist.
Peripartum Bipolar Disorder – Bipolar Disorder has the depression phase (the ‘lows’) and the manic phase (the ‘highs’). Bipolar illness can emerge during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Risk factors include a previous mood disorder and family history of mood disorders.
Symptoms of depression and mania:
Treatment can include mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications. Dr. Sidhu may also encourage seeking psychotherapy.
Postpartum Psychosis – Postpartum Psychosis is an extremely rare but serious condition — occurring only 1-2 out of every 1,000 deliveries. The symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis are extreme and may include: insomnia, excessive energy, agitation, hearing voices, and extreme paranoia or suspiciousness. Many women with Postpartum Psychosis have a personal or family history of Bipolar Disorder. Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis can be a serious medical emergency and require immediate attention.
To get treatment for Peripartum/Postpartum Depression or other mental conditions related to pregnancy/childbirth and lead the journey of motherhood as your happiest self, schedule an evaluation at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center. Book online or over the phone.