Depression after delivery. Depression is a disorder of the ‘down’ mood. With depression, you can be overly gloomy, depressed, listless and/or flat. Postpartum depression is known as postpartum depression. The complaints start within four weeks after birth. Previously, this disorder was referred to as a postnatal depression. About ten percent of all women giving birth suffer from more or less severe depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms can also occur in men after the birth of the partner. These arise, for example, as a result of sleep deprivation, large crowds and changes in the relationship with the partner.
Let’s see about Depression after delivery.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
Postpartum depression occurs shortly after delivery and has the same characteristics as other depressions. You can read more about this in the information folder of doctordokter.nl ‘Depressive disorder’. In addition to a gloomy, sad mood, many other phenomena can also occur, such as:
- not being able to enjoy things or having fun anymore
- constant tiredness, no energy, the feeling that everything takes effort
- think, move and react more slowly or are very restless and hunted
- sleeping problems, such as not being able to fall asleep and waking up too early or having an excessive need for sleep, being unable to get out of bed in the morning, wanting to stay in bed all-day
- eating problems, such as having no appetite (losing weight) or, on the contrary, tending to eat excessive amounts
- increased irritability, be irritated faster
- concentration problems, it is difficult to keep track of thoughts for a longer period of time, difficult to make decisions
- a negative self-image, a negative image of others and a negative image of the future
- thoughts of death and / or wishes
In addition to these general phenomena, more specific phenomena may also occur. For example, some women have recurring obsessive thoughts about doing something about their child (without actually wanting to do anything about it).
How does postpartum depression develop?
Postpartum depression can be caused by biological, psychological and / or social factors.
Biological factors The following biological changes can play a role in postpartum depression:
- imbalances in metabolism
- deficiencies in certain vitamins
- hormonal changes
The production of the hormone progesterone, for example, decreases after delivery, hormonal fluctuations can then lead to depression. Sleep deprivation can also have a negative influence on mood.
Psychological factors A newborn baby brings major changes to your life. Your daily life can become quite disruptive. The stress associated with this, together with the aforementioned hormonal changes, can lead to mood swings. Furthermore, the pregnancy and the arrival of your own baby can evoke unprocessed experiences from the past. When a woman becomes a mother herself, her own relationship with her mother becomes topical again.
Social factors At the social level, issues such as ‘must’ meet the image of the ‘ideal mother’. Other social expectations that a woman feels she must meet can also play a role. For example, some women have the feeling that they are expected to be perfectly happy with their newborn baby. However, if these young mothers do not feel happy, they may feel guilty about this. This feeling of guilt can, in turn, give rise to a depressive reaction.
Although postpartum depression is usually primarily referred to, other mood disorders may also start after the birth of a child. In this way, a young mother can also end up in a manic period. A manic period can be recognized by an extremely cheerful, excited or irritable mood.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Baby blues Many women do not feel well for one or more days after giving birth. They are crying or feel gloomy or anxious. Many women are also concerned about whether they can handle it all, and about the health of their baby. Having a child is a big change in life that requires a lot of adjustment.
Moreover, there are all kinds of radical hormonal changes in the body before, during and after birth. Changes that further disturb the balance. These days are sometimes called the ‘baby blues’. Although this is not fun, it is very different from ‘real’ depression. We only speak of this if there are feelings of depression for a longer period of time that do not pass automatically.
Depression Women who have experienced depression earlier in their lives have an increased risk of a depressive reaction after birth. There are indications that women who have had depressive symptoms after a previous delivery run a higher risk of getting it again after a subsequent delivery. Although this is not the case with all women, many are very scared of recurrence after the first depression. For some women, this is even a reason not to opt for a new pregnancy.
It is advisable not to ignore this fear, but to take as many precautionary measures as possible during a new pregnancy and childbirth. Research also shows that people who have been exposed to stressful factors during pregnancy (separation, work problems, grief, much stress), on average, have a higher chance of developing postpartum depression.
When to the doctor?
Depression after delivery. If you have the feeling that your gloominess exceeds the normal ‘dips’ and if you cannot solve it with your environment, it may be wise to go to the doctor.
He or she can check with you whether there is indeed a depression. He can also advise you on what you can do best in your situation.
You can consult with your doctor whether the use of medication (antidepressants) might help you. The doctor may also refer you to a psychologist or social worker for further treatment.
What can you do about it yourself?
Realize that you are not to blame for the depression Many women not only feel depressed but also very guilty about the fact that they cannot fully enjoy their maternity period and the first period with the baby.
It is very important to realize that you are not to blame for the depression. It also does not mean that you are a bad mother. Therefore, you do not have to retreat or stay ‘strong’ when you feel very sad. It is good to talk about this with many people, at least with your partner. Sharing your feelings and concerns with others can help. It is advisable to regularly take some time for yourself or with your partner.
Take care of yourself It is good to allow your partner or others to help you and to take over part of the care. You don’t have to do everything yourself to be a good mother. Taking good care of yourself, occasionally ‘refueling’ with some extra sleep, helping to increase your resilience. And if you take good care of yourself, you also have more to give to your child.
Fellow sufferers contact with peers, women who have experienced the same, can be very supportive.
‘Depressive disorder’ information leaflet For more advice on depressive symptoms you can read the information leaflet of doctordokter.nl ‘Depressive disorder’.
General advice and precautions
During pregnancy, it is not possible to predict which women will suffer from postpartum depression. You can, however, take precautions that reduce the chance of getting depression.
Ensure healthy food and relaxation It is important to make good, healthy food with sufficient vitamins and minerals. It is also important to take the time and rest to get used to all the changes that are coming your way. Most women need to process birth themselves. Take time for yourself regularly during pregnancy and prepare yourself for birth. You should better avoid a move or major renovation during pregnancy or shortly after delivery.
Be realistic It is useful to keep a realistic view of yourself and not to make impossible demands on yourself. Every mother sometimes has a difficult time or has mixed feelings about the pregnancy and the child from time to time. This does not mean that you cannot do it, or that you are not a good mother. You can allow yourself these mixed feelings and talk to others about this.
Be prepared Good information about pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood can help you prepare. Fear and gloom are then less likely to get a hold of you. It is therefore advisable to have you informed as broadly as possible and possibly to follow a course. The latter has the additional advantage that you come into contact with other (future) mothers with whom you can exchange experiences.
Finally, Postpartum depression also passes again. After a while, everything looks different again, no matter how hard you can imagine that now.
Depression after delivery