PLD represents a public health problem of considerable importance, taking into account the subjective suffering of the woman and her family members, as well as the limitations and direct and indirect costs due to the alteration of her personal functioning, social and professional.
When do the first symptoms of postpartum depression appear?
Postpartum depression has a variable onset; it generally begins between the 6th and 12th week after the birth of the child.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The woman feels sad for no reason, irritable, easy to cry, not up to the tasks ahead of her.
Moreover, a recurring feeling among young mothers, faced with this problem, is shame mixed with guilt.
In common feeling, it goes without saying that a new mother should be happy at all times.
This is a false myth.
The fear of being seen as an inadequate mother, fueled by unrealistic expectations, can lead women to feel guilty and unwilling to ask for help, forgetting that it takes time to adjust to motherhood. .
It is good to remember: you are not born a parent, you become one.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
The causes of postnatal depression are not yet fully known.
However, some risk factors listed in the scientific literature are certain:
- having suffered from anxiety or depression during pregnancy
- have already suffered from anxiety and depression, even before the pregnancy;
- familiarity with psychiatric disorders (i.e. having close family members who suffer from them);
- experience or have recently experienced very stressful situations, such as bereavement, separation, job loss;
- living in a situation of weak family or social support, with precarious emotional relationships and a lack of social networks to which to refer in case of difficulty;
- economic difficulties or precariousness;
- have premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder;
- suffer from thyroid function disorders;
- have had recourse to assisted fertilization techniques.
The relationship between mother and child is affected
The disorder also interferes with the woman’s ability to establish an exchange of behavior and emotions with her child.
In fact, 67% of depressed mothers report difficulties with interaction and attachment.
The exchange has been recognized as essential for an effective mother-child relationship, capable of preventing long-term consequences on the cognitive, social and emotional development of the child.
Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis
PPD should be distinguished from so-called postpartum psychosis, also known as puerperal psychosis, a very rare disorder that is more severe in its manifestations.
Women who suffer from it present states of great confusion and agitation, severe changes in mood and behavior, often hallucinations and delusions.
These states are very rare.
Postpartum depression and baby blues
PPD should also be distinguished from a fairly common reaction, called “baby blues” (“blues” means melancholy), characterized by an indefinable feeling of melancholy, sadness, irritability and restlessness, which peaks 3 to 4 days after birth and tends to fade within a few days, usually within the first 10 to 15 days after birth.
Its appearance is mainly due to the drastic hormonal change in the hours following childbirth (lower estrogen and progesterone) and physical and mental exhaustion caused by labor and childbirth and can occur in more than 70% mothers.
Postpartum depression, on the other hand, has more intense and long-lasting symptoms.
How to overcome postpartum depression?
If you find that time is passing and symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, apathy, trouble sleeping, etc. or counseling centers.
The doctor will advise you what to do, depending on the severity of the situation.
Sometimes all it takes is talking to someone to improve the situation.
Many anxieties and fears are amplified by keeping them hidden, because you think you are the only one experiencing them, when in fact they are quite common.
There are three main levels of intervention possibilities:
If the symptoms are really very mild, if it is baby blues or a bit more, there is no need to do anything specific, but certainly a few small steps are of great importance:
Do not hide the discomfort, but talk about it with your partner, your family, your friends;
Try to rest as much as possible: fatigue is a powerful ally of depression;
Try to eat a healthy diet and get some physical activity, maybe outside.
There are different types of psychotherapy that can help cope with and overcome postnatal depression, alone or in combination with pharmacological treatment.
These include cognitive behavioral therapy.
C) Drug therapy
There’s no point in hiding it: depression in general is still considered a “minor” disorder, not to worry too much about it, and medications specific to this disorder are often viewed with suspicion, especially when it is a question of administering them during delicate periods. stages of life, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.
If someone has a heartache, everyone is worried and recommends taking this or that medicine.
If, on the contrary, someone suffers from a mood disorder, we don’t worry, we minimize, we neglect.
Instead, the disorder must be treated, with the tools available, which include medication.
These include, for example, antidepressants and anxiolytics: some formulations are also safe during breastfeeding and can be taken with confidence.
Remedies and Protective Factors for Postpartum Depression
Certain strategies can be protective factors against the onset of depression.
They can’t completely prevent it, but they can lessen it or help women cope better by giving them strength and support.
Let’s see what they are:
- The possibility of a good rest in the first weeks after childbirth. We know it well: with a newborn at home, the first thing to do is the rhythm of sleep, but the mother must try to sleep as much as possible, for example by resting when the baby is resting. In this regard, it can be helpful to ask family members for help with small domestic tasks and to limit visits from relatives and friends in the first days after returning home.
- An adequate and balanced diet with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, flaxseed oil) and low in stimulants such as alcohol and coffee.
- A good intake of vitamin D: a healthy life in the open air is enough to fill it up, but if necessary ask your doctor to check the dosage with a blood test to assess whether supplementation is necessary.
- A good relationship with the partner who, in the very first weeks after birth, has the delicate and beautiful task of supporting the mother and not leaving her alone while she “learns” her new job.
- A good network of family and friends, who can offer valuable help with household chores, for example.
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