Some people tend to dismiss postpartum blues as just baby blues and something that is par for the course; something that need not be taken too seriously.
Postpartum depression is however a recognized form of clinical depression that ought to be taken seriously and for which treatment is needed.
Here are some facts about postpartum blues that are important to keep in mind.
Postpartum depression most often begins about 4 weeks after childbirth and can continue up to 6 months or even a year afterwards. However in some cases it could start months after the birth of the child.
Estimates differ about the incidence of this form of depression: while some estimates say that about 5% of new mothers have it, other estimates say that the number could be as high as 25%.
Men also are known to have the postpartum blues, and between 1.2% and 25.5% of new fathers could have the condition.
Risk factors for this kind of depression include a personal history of mental illness, low self esteem, prenatal or pregnancy blues and so on.
Women under a lot of stress, with low socioeconomic status, with a lot of childcare related problems and less social and personal support are also more at risk.
Single mothers, women who have hand an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy as well as women with relationship difficulties are more at risk. Research has also found that women who smoke are more at risk and that women who breast feed (as against formula feed) are less at risk.
Symptoms of postpartum blues
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt as well as a feeling of being overwhelmed are the most common symptoms. Women can feel a sense of emptiness and may become frustrated without sufficient cause and could feel unable to care for the new baby.
Lack of self esteem and social withdrawal or using excuses to avoid company of others could also be the symptoms of postpartum depression.
There could be panic attacks and loss of temper and mood swings. A woman can feel exhausted without any seeming cause and find she has very little energy. Low sex drive is another symptom of postpartum blues. Others may find that they are unable to offer solace or comfort to her.
Many women also find that they are unable to sleep well or that they have other sleep disturbances.
Recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Women with baby blues should try and talk about their feelings with those who are close to them, such as a husband, partner, good friend or a relative.
- Getting help with chores and child care can help a woman feel less overwhelmed and inadequate and more composed.
- It is important for women to prioritize some time each day for themselves and to get out of the house.
- Getting lots of rest can also be one way to control symptoms.
- Joining a group, online forum or getting support from a professional can help with postpartum blues as well.