“Mothers are the root of the family tree. Without a healthy root the tree will wither. Self care is non-negotiable, it’s survival.”
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum mood disorders range from short lived “blues” (80% of new mothers), to more severe depression (20%), and much less common psychosis (1/1000). Causes are complex and treatment may require cooperation from multiple specialties.
Postpartum blues are described as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and crying episodes. This condition is short lived (less than two weeks) and usually requires no treatment. Rest and family support is sufficient to overcome this temporary mood disorder.
Postpartum depression is more severe and prolonged. It lasts longer than two weeks and without intervention worsens. The symptoms are severe depressive and mood changes, fatigue and loss of interest and loss of joy in pleasurable activities, insomnia, mental fogginess, feeling of inadequacy and shame. Difficulty bonding to the baby and feeling of detachment from family and loved ones is other features of PPD.
Postpartum psychosis fortunately rare but a very serious condition. This disorder is marked by hallucinations, agitation, self-mutilation, suicidal ideation, and attempts at harming self or the baby.
Causation is complex. Postpartum hormonal changes, lack of sleep and exhaustion, physical changes, traumatic experiences during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum can contribute. Mothers with history of depression and depression in a previous pregnancy are at higher risk.
The most essential key to diagnosis is listening and asking the appropriate questions. Validating patient concerns and taking complaints seriously. Close and early follow up postpartum is helpful. PPD questionnaires can be used in prenatal as well as postpartum setting to diagnose high risk mothers.
Early treatment is essential to effectively treating PPD and psychosis. Treatment requires a combination of psychotherapy, antianxiety and anti-depressive medication. Hormonal therapy may also be effective in treating this condition. The vast majority of women treated early will recover and will avoid long term consequences for themselves and their baby.
If you think you might be struggling with Postpartum depression, schedule an appointment with Dr Michael Tahery at the Glendale office or the West Los Angeles office to find out more about the treatment options available.