Women’s health : Causes and treatment of postpartum depression
There are several reasons a first time mother would go into postpartum depression, this article would discuss the causes and treatment of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health.
In a different post we discussed in details what postpartum depression is and symptoms of this health condition.
You can read more about it Here
What are the likely causes of postpartum depression?
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest they’ll ever be. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels.
Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression.2
This is similar to hormone changes before a woman’s period but involves much more extreme swings in hormone levels.
Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth.
The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food.
Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression.
A simple blood test can tell whether this condition is causing your symptoms.
If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.
Other feelings may contribute to postpartum depression.
Many new mothers say they feel:
- Tired after labor and delivery
- Tired from a lack of sleep or broken sleep
- Overwhelmed with a new baby
- Doubts about their ability to be a good mother
- Stress from changes in work and home routines
- An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Grief about loss of who they were before having the baby
- Less attractive
- A lack of free time
These feelings are common among new mothers.
But postpartum depression is a serious health condition and can be treated.
Postpartum depression is not a regular or expected part of being a new mother.
How is Postpartum depression treated?
The common types of treatment for postpartum depression are:
- Therapy. During therapy, you talk to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn strategies to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.
- Medicine. There are different types of medicines for postpartum depression. All of them must be prescribed by your doctor or nurse. The most common type is antidepressants. Antidepressants can help relieve symptoms of depression and some can be taken while you’re breastfeeding. Antidepressants may take several weeks to start working.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved a medicine called brexanolone to treat postpartum depression in adult women.6 Brexanolone is given by a doctor or nurse through an IV for 2½ days (60 hours). Because of the risk of side effects, this medicine can only be given in a clinic or office while you are under the care of a doctor or nurse. Brexanolone may not be safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Another type of medicine called esketamine can treat depression and is given as a nasal (nose) spray in a doctor’s office or clinic. Esketamine can hurt an unborn baby. You should not take esketamine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).This can be used in extreme cases to treat postpartum depression.
These treatments can be used alone or together.
Talk with your doctor or nurse about the benefits and risks of taking medicine to treat depression when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Having depression can affect your baby.
Getting treatment is important for you and your baby.
Taking medicines for depression or going to therapy does not make you a bad mother or a failure.
Getting help is a sign of strength.
First published on womenshealth.com