Postpartum or postnatal depressive disorder, similar to depression during pregnancy, is mainly caused by hormonal changes brought about by the pregnancy. The onset of this type of depressive disorder can occur as late as 18 months after labor.
An estimated seventy percent of women experiences postpartum depressive disorder. Many of these cases are fairly mild and last only a few days, while others are more severe and can last much longer. The latter types will typically require medical treatment. It is believed that the more severe cases tend to affect women who have lower self-esteem, or women who have had prior history of depression, or single mothers who lack the necessary support from close ones.
The symptoms of postpartum depressive disorder are similar to most other types of depressive disorders, including depression during pregnancy. Learning how to fight depression of this kind is thus also similar to most other types of clinical depression, and getting support and help from friends and family can aid greatly. The symptoms include irritability, inability to focus, sleeping problems, headaches, constantly feeling depressed, a sense of dread or sadness and a loss of interest in pretty much everything.
Postpartum depression is not easy to overcome. The depression feeds on itself, growing stronger as the woman’s self-doubt grows. She believes that the way she is feeling isn’t “right”; she may think that the “proper” feeling she should have is joy at her newborn, and may wonder why she isn’t feeling that way. As a result, she begins to think she is a bad mother or a terrible person, and doesn’t deserve to have a child. These feelings of guilt and self-doubt worsen the depression, and can make it difficult or impossible for the mother to bond with her newborn child.
It is important to note that such feelings are common. A newborn will no doubt lead to huge lifestyle changes, and no amount of preparation will seem enough to handle them. Lack of sleep, tiredness from taking care of the newborn, and general doubt whether you’re being or will be a good mother or not all contribute to postpartum depression.
Consider depression as a kind of speed bump in your journey through life. In the grand scheme of things, it is but a temporary hurdle that you will overcome; it just seems extremely foreboding at the current moment. A newborn is a gift, and you may find it hard to believe that in your state of depression at the moment, but never give up trying to fight the depression.
If you had suffered through depression during pregnancy, and did not seek treatment for it at the time, then do consider seeking treatment if you are still severely depressed after giving birth. Remember that postpartum depression is fairly common, and does not reflect badly on your motherhood skills. Do not doubt yourself, and do not be ashamed to get professional medical help, or support from your loved ones.