Postpartum Depression Treatment

Postpartum Depression in Amherst and Cambridge, MA

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it challenging to complete daily care activities for themselves or others.

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression does not have a single cause. Both physical and emotional factors contribute to its onset. Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do.

The hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body rapidly drop after childbirth. This hormonal change triggers a cascade of chemical fluctuations that can trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers have trouble getting the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Some of the more common symptoms a woman may experience include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment to her baby
  • Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby.

How Can a Woman Tell If She Has Postpartum Depression?

A healthcare provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because this condition manifests differently for all women, a healthcare provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms are due to postpartum depression or something else. A woman who experiences any of these symptoms should immediately see a healthcare provider.

How is Postpartum Depression Different from the "Baby Blues"?

“Baby blues” describes the worry, unhappiness, and fatigue a lot of women experience after giving birth. Babies require a lot of care, so it’s normal for mothers to be worried about or tired from providing that care. Baby blues, which affects up to 80 percent of mothers, include mild feelings that last a week or two and go away on their own.

With postpartum depression, sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family. Because of the severity of the symptoms, postpartum depression usually requires treatment. The condition, which occurs in nearly 15 percent of births, may begin shortly before or any time after childbirth but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery.

Are Some Women More Likely To Experience Postpartum Depression Than Others?

Some women are at greater risk for developing postpartum depression because they have one or more risk factors, such as:

Symptoms of depression during or after a previous pregnancy

  • Previous experience with depression or bipolar disorder at another time in her life
  • A family member who has been diagnosed with depression or other mental illness
  • A stressful life event during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, such as job loss, the death of a loved one, domestic violence, or personal illness
  • Medical complications during childbirth, including premature delivery or having a baby with medical problems
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned
  • A lack of strong emotional support from her spouse, partner, family, or friends
  • Alcohol or other drug abuse problems.
  • Postpartum depression can affect any woman regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or economic status.

How is Postpartum Depression Treated?

There are effective treatments for postpartum depression. Among these are psychotherapy, medication (including ketamine), and TMS. New mothers can use these treatment methods alone or together. These treatments are more effective than conventional medications, especially for depression that has not responded to previous medication trials. Both treatments address the brain areas most commonly associated with depression. Ketamine works chemically, while TMS works electromagnetically to rewire the brain, diverting regions and actions linked with depressive disorders.

What Can Happen If Postpartum Depression is Left Untreated?

Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or years. In addition to affecting the mother’s health, it can interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby and may cause the baby to have problems with sleeping, eating, and behavior as they grow.

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