Causes Of Postpartum Depression
Biological causes of depression are important to understand, both for health care providers, as well as for those who are affected by it. While it is not often talked about openly, depression is a major issue for people in all societies and from all walks of life. Most people know someone who is suffering from it. The affliction generally can be described as a feeling of sadness that does not subside in a natural amount of time, lasting from weeks to even years. This lingering sadness can leave a person stagnant in their daily activities, anti-social, and possibly even suicidal. Furthermore, the condition not only affects the person suffering from it, but also family and friends. One group of people in particular that experiences this affliction is mothers. Although researchers are unsure of many causes of postpartum depression, the condition causes new mothers to be sad and unable to enjoy their new role as a mother. In very severe cases, a mother suffering could be dangerous to her newborn or herself.
Postpartum depression originates in ways that are similar to biological causes. Probably the most obvious of the biological causes of depression in new moms, is the hormonal change that overwhelms their system. The very same hormonal changes occur in women who experience a stillbirth or miscarriage. The combination of the loss and the hormonal changes can often result in more severe despair. Estrogen and progesterone increase in a woman's body during pregnancy and suddenly drop after childbirth. The body often cannot adjust to the quick changes in hormone levels. Thus, the woman feels moody, sad, inadequate, weepy and, in severe cases, suicidal. Thyroid hormones can also drop after pregnancy. This drop can result in fatigue, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
In addition to hormonal changes, a changed lifestyle also can affects. For example, a lack of rest and broken sleep patterns are causes of postpartum depression and expected conditions when caring for a newborn. Moreover, many new mothers feel overwhelmed by their new responsibilities and this can result in a melancholy state. More causes of postpartum depression are stress and loss of control or identity. Women are often shaken by their new role as a mother and cannot cope with the change of who they are. They may be accustomed to a career rather than staying at home all day.
Understanding and treating all forms of severe despair is imperative. Research needs to continue so that the medical community can have greater understanding in this area. Finally, people should know that with certain treatments, this affliction can be overcome and life can go on. Much research continues regarding why people get depressed. While there are discrepancies as to some of the causes, many doctors agree that the main biological causes of depression stem from neurotransmitters in the nerve cells of the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transfer messages to and from cells in the form of norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid. An imbalance of neurotransmitters can result in depression, headaches and other health problems and can be caused by a number of things. Imbalances in the thyroid or adrenal glands cause problems in the hormones, causing s depressed state. Anemia, or low iron levels among other chemical imbalances, can cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters. Among the other biological causes of depression are viral infections of the brain or liver, chronic stressors, social stressors, serious diseases such as heart disease and even some medications, resulting in the imbalance of neurotransmitters.
Chronic stressors and social stressors naturally can cause an imbalance in neurotransmitters because of the reaction to current and long-term circumstances. Chronic stressors can include stress from having medical problems, family problems, or having a living situation change suddenly. That is why people who suffer major, debilitating injuries often experience despair. An example of a social stressor is the death or birth of a loved one. In this type of situation a person can suffer from the causes of postpartum depression or biological depression, depending on the circumstances. Regardless of the cause of the condition, people should avoid alcohol and drug use, as the use of them can increase dramatically the depressed condition. With any type of drug, even prescribed medications, it is important that the individual report any problems or signs of hopelessness to their doctor.
Understanding the underlying causes is just the beginning of coping with this condition. Knowing and watching for the signs is important as well. If someone suspects that a friend or family member may be suffering from severe hopelessness, they should get them immediate counseling. They can talk with someone close to them, a professional counselor or a pastor. If their symptoms seem severe, they should seek immediate medical attention. Most often, doctors can best determine the biological causes of depression, and offer a means of overcoming it. The most important thing to remember is that it is not something to be ignored. While a person's "hope deferred maketh the heart sick," there always is hope in Jesus Christ (Proverbs 13:12).
Postpartum Depression SymptomsPostpartum depression symptoms can indicate a serious illness that can dramatically affect the relationship between a mother and her newborn child. As with any type of depressed state, this emotional disorder can leave the victim despondent and unable to function properly. The severely depressed can barely take care of themselves, much less meet the demands of a helpless infant, compounding the problem with guilt and stress. Many doctors and those in the emotional health fields of medicine are just beginning to understand this disruptive disorder and now postpartum depression treatment plans are being initiated to help mothers get back on track and enjoy taking care of their children. However, because of guilt and an incomplete understanding of postnatal depressive states, many women are reluctant to seek help, feeling that they will somehow "get over it" or they have feelings of embarrassment over their inability to take adequate care of their child or children. More public education and awareness needs to be accomplished, giving mothers social permission to seek help for the betterment of themselves and their families.
Studies in postnatal medicines are revealing that up to eighty-five percent of all women who give birth experience some level of blue mood, often called "baby blues". Hormone fluctuations, stress from giving birth, and fatigue can all contribute to feeling down. However, ten to fifteen percent of these women will experience a long-term episode that is much more serious and this is known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression symptoms can happen at anytime within the first year after the birth of a child, so in many cases, women are not attributing their depression to the birth events. While hormone levels largely contribute to the onset of a depressed state, there are other factors that should be considered. Women can become overwhelmed with being a mother and have secret fears about performing adequately. Sometimes there is a sense of loss in the marital relationship as the baby takes center stage of all activities. A mother may also feel that she has lost her own identity. Simply having a change in daily routine can be overwhelming and increase the possibility of feeling out of control. And, where there is a history of depression in the woman or in her family, she is more likely to be at risk. Postpartum depression treatment cannot change circumstances, but medications can help boost hormone levels that will give the woman an ability to cope better.
Teaching those who are at risk to recognize symptoms will aid in getting help immediately and in understanding that what is being experienced is not truly who the woman is and that she can get better. Mothers experiencing postpartum depression symptoms can feel irritable, or extremely sad, with bouts of crying for no reason. Appetite changes can also be a signal, as well as fatigue or restlessness. Sleep patterns can be disruptive with either sleeping for prolonged periods or insomnia. Women who are depressed generally loose an interest in things that they once found pleasure in and they may withdraw from friends and family members. Some mothers may have ambivalent feelings or negative thoughts about their child during this time, while others become anxious and consumed with a fear for the baby's well being. There can be physical symptoms, which include chest pains, headaches, and anxiety that leads to hyperventilation. Some of these signals are common after changes take place in the body, but with a true depressed state, the episodes will last for an abnormal length of time with little or no relief.
Turning to the Word of God can be helpful when there is a serious depression at hand. Coupled with postpartum depression treatment, women will find relief and hope in the words that God has shared about himself and his plans for our futures. "Arise, shine; for their light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." (Psalm 60:1-2) The dark cloud of depression can be lifted and life can return to normal again.
Because the baby blues can dramatically affect a mother's ability to parent her child or children, this illness needs to be taken seriously. Research is proving that postpartum depression symptoms can affect development in a child with language delays, learning disabilities, emotional problems, problems bonding with others, and depression. It is crucial that women seek postpartum depression treatment with drug therapy and get help from friends and family members. During this time, there are other steps that can also be taken to promote emotional health. Eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of rest will be helpful. Women should also let certain household chores or responsibilities go or be delegated to others. This should be a very special time of enjoyment and rest, not stress and anxiety. There is more online information about this emotional disorder and anyone suspect should gather more information and contact a doctor.