Postpartum Depression and It’s Long Term Impact on Children
Postpartum depression is real, and it can have devastating effects on mothers. Also, there’s evidence it affects babies in many ways. Researchers in an ongoing study by one British organization, ALSPAC, examined the long-term effects of postnatal depression. They found that it can have “lingering” effects on children. The study involved close to 10,000 participants. That makes it a serious study whose findings are not to be taken lightly. But here’s good news. Treatment by a mental healthcare expert helps.
What’s Postpartum Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression is a mood-related disorder that affects women after childbirth. The situation can be severe in some cases, triggering extreme levels of anxiety and feelings of sadness.
Affected moms feel exhausted most of the time, and they can also be quite irritable. A mother going through this situation might be unable to give their baby proper care or adequate attention. Such moms often need lots of emotional support, especially from family.
Why Do Women Get Postpartum Depression?
No one cause or factor fully explains this depression. Quite a few emotional and physical factors are at play. Also, the situation isn’t the result of something the mother does or doesn’t do. In addition, it’s nothing to do with being weak in some way. And it can happen to anyone.
Experts think this type of depression has something to do with hormonal changes that occur immediately after childbirth. After delivery, progesterone and estrogen levels dip sharply. When that happens, the brain experiences certain chemical changes that trigger mood swings.
Pretty much all mothers get very little sleep after childbirth. The baby has endless needs and cries practically all of the time. At that time, the mom should be resting and recharging after the labor-related challenges she’s gone through.
But instead of resting and relaxing, she’s almost always busy. She must ensure that the little one is well-fed and comfortable. The result is exhaustion and lots of physical discomforts, both of which are a contributing factor to postnatal depression.
What are the Effects of Postnatal Depression?
Postpartum depression comes with terrible symptoms that make the mother’s life a full-blown nightmare. The patient often demonstrates mood swings — they’re happy one moment and unhappy the next one. The person may also feel anxious and sad. And that can have their loved ones worrying endlessly.
Also, the patient may cry a lot. Perhaps that’s because they’re feeling overwhelmed. In some cases, the person loses appetite while others eat too much. Apart from that, the patient has trouble sleeping and their overall concentration nosedives. They may also become a tad too irritable.
Some may fear they’re not a good mother. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, inadequacy, anger, shame, and restlessness typically overwhelm them. Others may experience panic attacks, and thoughts of suicide aren’t uncommon.
In some really bad situations, some mothers may harbor dark thoughts pertaining to harming themselves or the baby. In such circumstances, the probability of the child bonding with its mother is minimal.
As you can see, postnatal depression is an extremely challenging situation. The person most likely needs help. Family and friends should provide emotional support to the sufferer.
How Long can you Have Postpartum Depression?
It depends. With some patients, the depression resolves itself. It ends without treatment, usually after 2 weeks according to Mayo Clinic. But that’s when it’s mild.
If the disorder stays untreated, it can linger for months or even years, evolving into severe postpartum depression. It’s not uncommon for some patients to need psychiatric care. The right specialist performs depression screening to determine what support the patient needs.
Does it feel like your loved one’s symptoms aren’t improving no matter how hard you try to help? It’s probably time to visit a psychiatry clinic in Sudbury or whichever other location you might prefer. The best psychiatrist is someone who’s received proper training in women’s health. Be sure you’re dealing with someone with the level of competence required to treat the condition.
Ripple Effect of Postpartum Depression
When mothers become depressed after childbirth, their children may get affected in many ways. A study published in JAMA psychiatry investigated whether the extent of depression’s severity had long-term effects on children. The research also examined whether the length of time depression persisted had any relationship with long-term outcomes in children.
What Were the Findings?
Children whose mothers battled persistent severe depression were highly likely to demonstrate behavioral problems by age 3.5. Also, these children scored lower grades in math. In addition, they suffered from depression in their adolescent years.
Apart from that, women who had persistent severe depression were highly likely to suffer depressive symptoms for years. In fact, the study revealed that some patients continued to see the symptoms up to the 11th year! That’s why depressed moms should start receiving treatment early.
Are Some Women More Susceptible to Postnatal Depression?
Yes. While just about anyone could suffer depression, some women tend to be more vulnerable. The following are risk factors that increase the likelihood that some women will have post-childbirth depression.
- Substance abuse
- Lack of emotional support
- Having mixed feelings about the pregnancy
- Getting a baby with health-related issues
- Situations such as premature delivery or even surgery
- Stressful events during pregnancy or after childbirth including a problematic relationship or death in the family
- Having previously endured bipolar disorder
- Family history of depression or mental illness
Is there Treatment for Postnatal Depression?
Postnatal depression is treatable. Counseling therapy works. It involves having one-on-one therapy sessions with a psychiatrist or other relevant mental health professionals. You need a specialist rather than a general healthcare provider.
Your Sudbury psychiatrist will use the following treatment approaches. These are IPT (Interpersonal Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). CBT helps you re-engineer any negative thoughts and behaviors that may be weighing you down. IPT, on the other hand, helps you improve any personal relationships that may be giving you sleepless nights. Also, your healthcare provider can prescribe antidepressants.
If you or your loved one are experiencing postnatal depression months after childbirth, take action. When symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, see a mental health expert or ask your physician for guidance. The right Sudbury psychiatrist will do depression screening to ascertain whether it’s reached severe levels.
Looking for expert advice concerning this type of depression? Request evaluation now. Our psychiatrists have helped many women to overcome depression and regain normalcy incredibly fast.
XX: perinatal depression