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Coping with Postpartum Depression

What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

"After giving birth, many women experience a week or two of "baby blues," marked by mood swings, feelings of ambivalence toward motherhood, mild depression, and bouts of unexplainable crying. These blues may be a result of hormonal changes; of the way labor, delivery, and motherhood are treated in today's society; or of the isolation new mothers often feel. Certainly lack of sleep plays a role, too. In some women -- as many as 11 to 15 percent of new mothers -- the baby blues turns into clinical postpartum depression, or PPD” – Source: Coping with Postpartum Depression, Ronnie Lichtman, American Baby, 2006.

Women know that their bodies undergo very dramatic changes during pregnancy. Giving birth doesn’t make those changes disappear, and your body still needs to adjust from the trauma of having a baby. Hormones that affect mood and behavior flood the female body during and after pregnancy. Suddenly having a very demanding newborn to care for can be a huge change, especially to brand-new moms.

In some cases, these blues turn into actual clinical postpartum depression, better know as PPD.

Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

Mothers who may be suffering with PPD will experience some warning signs. If you or someone you know seems to be suffering from these symptoms, you should consult with your physician. There are many ways that modern science and medicine can alleviate the symptoms associated with PPD. These symptoms include:

Uncontrollable crying

Bouts of crying that begin and end without reason are a common symptom of postpartum depression. Crying because of a sad movie, or even a long-distance telephone commercial, is a normal reaction. Crying for no reason whatsoever, however, may be a sign of PPD.

Lack of Interest in the Baby

Women suffering from PPD find that they lack both energy and interest in their newborn infant. Many women do not like to admit this side effect, even to them, for fear it makes them bad mothers. But lack of interest in the baby is a very common symptom of PPD, and completely normal. Many mothers experience the exact same thing.

Inability to Rest

No matter how tired, mothers suffering from postpartum depression have an increasing inability to rest or sleep. They cannot stay still, cannot seem to turn off their minds, cannot find comfort in slumber. This is a common and disturbing side effect of PPD.

Loss of Appetite

Women suffering from postpartum depression have very little appetite or desire for food.

The side effects and symptoms of PPD combine to make coping with postpartum depression that much harder for women who are already exhausted, malnourished, and fearful of being bad mothers. Remember, if you are suffering from PPD you are not alone. This is very, very common.

Coping With Postpartum Depression

The best way to cope with PPD is to consult with your physician. Research is still being conducted on the various treatment options for PPD. However, most doctors prescribe the following treatments:

· Self care at home

This is not a necessarily a substitute for medication, but it is very helpful. One of the ways women can do this is by surrounding themselves with family members who are extremely supportive. It involves the creation of a positive atmosphere around the patient. Moreover, PPD sufferers must also take rest, socialize and not expect too much from themselves.

· Supplements or Medication

Women are usually asked to take prenatal vitamins and iron, post delivery. At times, prescription antidepressants are given like fluoxetine (Prozac), parxetine (Paxil), amongst others. At times hormone therapy can also help. An intake of estrogen combined with antidepressants can go a long way in curing postpartum depression.

· Therapy

Doctors generally prescribe psychotherapy for mild cases. This has been widely effective in such cases. Some women are asked to undergo a therapy called Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). IPT enables women to make adjustments at a social level. Typically, this option consists of 12 sessions with a therapist that is one-hour long. At times, in serious cases a doctor might just consider putting the patient in a hospital, if there is a danger that the baby might be hurt in any way.

· Follow-Up

PPD is serious and women suffering from PPD must consult a doctor before following any treatment plan. Furthermore, if the doctor prescribes a medication or any therapy, it must be followed up with due diligence. The medications must not be stopped, unless your doctor tells you to do so.

To conclude, PPD is an ailment that might just go away by itself, but it is best to contact your doctor immediately if you think you are suffering from it.

About the Author: Jacqueline Courtiol is the developer of a European Gripe Water used to relieve infant gas, colic and reflux in babies. Jacqueline is a parent and teacher and has authored articles on of parenting, child health and development. Her website is Gripe Water for Colic

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