Postpartum depression affects thousands – if not millions of people – in America and worldwide, including men, women, children, caregivers, extended family members, and others. There are many reasons and potential triggers for the condition, but gathering helpful information and learning about possible treatment options, is the best way to manage depression.
What is postpartum depression?
“Your body and mind go through many changes during and after pregnancy. If you feel empty, emotionless, or sad all or most of the time for longer than 2 weeks during or after pregnancy, reach out for help. If you feel like you don’t love or care for your baby, you might have postpartum depression.” Treatment for depression, like ketamine therapy or medicine, works and may help you and your baby have a healthier relationship.
Know the symptoms
Symptoms usually happen within a few weeks following childbirth but may start earlier, while a woman is pregnant, or later – perhaps a year after birth.
- Low moods or extreme mood swings
- Extreme crying
- Problems bonding with your newborn
- Self-isolation from loved ones
- Changes in appetite
- Getting too much or too little sleep
- Overwhelming tiredness or lack of energy
- Lack of interest in something you used to enjoy
- Strong anger and irritability
- Doubts about parenting skills
What are the causes?
Postpartum depression likely is caused by many factors, which may include the following:
- Decreased levels of progesterone and estrogen.
- A history of depression before, during, or after pregnancy. Someone’s who’s been treated for depression has a greater risk of getting it.
- Emotional factors (having doubts about pregnancy, not sure you want a child, and other concerns) can influence feelings about pregnancy and the unborn fetus.
- Fatigue and lifestyle factors may also contribute to postpartum depression.
Can men get it
Yes, men can experience postpartum depression. New fathers can have symptoms of peripartum depression. Symptoms may include changes in eating or sleeping and tiredness. About four percent of fathers get depression in the year following their child’s birth. Young fathers, especially those with a history of mental illness, and fathers with financial burdens are more likely to get depression. There may be some evidence that fathers experience changes in hormone levels after childbirth.
What Are the Risk Factors/Triggers for Postpartum Depression?
Because postpartum depression can have an overwhelming impact on what it means to be a new mother and potentially terrible consequences for the baby, it’s critical to understand which women are at the greatest risk. Any woman is vulnerable to postpartum depression, regardless of age, relationship status, education, or socioeconomics. But there could be specific factors that raise a woman’s depression risk.
Risk factors may include:
- Previous depression. You may also have a biological relative with depression, which is another risk factor.
- Prenatal anxiety
- Recent stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, loss of home, or income changes.
- Lack of a support network amongst family and friends
- Bad relationship with a spouse or partner
- Low self-esteem.
Triggers for postpartum depression may also include unexpected or hard to deal with physical changes after childbirth. There could be a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) or thyroid problems which contribute to tiredness and sluggishness.
Facts about postpartum depression
- About 10 percent of women get postpartum depression
- Nearly 70 to 80 percent of women will have, at minimum, the ‘baby blues.’ And many will get the more dangerous illness of postpartum depression or a related ailment.
- Amongst new mothers, the reported incidence of clinical postpartum depression is between 10 and 20 percent.
- Globally, it affects tens or even hundreds of millions yearly if all countries are included.
- In some Asian countries, the rate of postpartum depression could be more than 65 percent for new mothers.
Diagnosis & treatment
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you think you have postpartum depression. This advice applies whether you’re male or female. You’ll be asked to talk about your feelings and symptoms and how long you’ve been feeling depressed. Besides a medical examination (including a blood test to check hormone levels) and psychological screening, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about depression or give permission for medical staff to talk to family and friends.
Psychotherapy is a popular and successful treatment for postpartum depression, but some people also benefit from self-help, antidepressants, lifestyle changes, and ketamine therapy.
If you or a loved one suffer from postpartum depression, don’t wait to get help until symptoms are overwhelming and affect the quality of life. With proper care, and even medicine like ketamine, postpartum depression symptoms can be managed. Ask your healthcare provider about the right treatment for you.