There’s no more joyful event for most women than the birth of a child. In the best case scenario, after the months of doctor visits, prenatal vitamins and extra healthy eating, the mother is rewarded with a tight fisted and wailing bundle of joy. Afterwards, mommy and the new baby go home to spend the next few weeks happily getting to know one another. At least, that’s the way it is supposed to happen.
Sometimes mommy doesn’t fair too well, and becomes a victim of postpartum depression, also known as peripartum depression. This illness can strike up to a year after the mother has given birth. After pregnancy, the woman’s body goes through hormonal changes which can cause symptoms of depression. Estrogen and progesterone are produced heavily during pregnancy, however twenty four hours after delivery, these hormones slide quickly back down to their normal pre-pregnancy levels. These fast hormone level changes are thought to be the cause of postpartum depression, just as hormonal changes prior to a woman’s menstrual cycle can cause mood swings.
Thyroid hormones may also be partly to blame, as they too may drop quickly after giving birth. Located within the neck, the thyroid gland that helps regulate how your body stores and uses the energy gained from eating food, this process is called metabolism. Once the hormone levels from this small gland begin to dwindle, the results can be loss of interest in anything, trouble in sleeping, fatigue, weight gain, irritability and difficulty in concentrating on any specific task. Luckily, depression from thyroid dysfunction can be detected by taking a blood test to check the hormone levels of the thyroid. Depression caused by thyroid dysfunction can be treated easily with proper medication prescribed by a physician.
Postpartum depression can also have its onset stem from the circumstances which occur after the mom and child have returned home. When a new mom comes home with her child, she may doubt her ability to take proper care of the child, and feel as though she is not a good mother, or even that she is unfit to raise a child. This feeling may even strike a mother who already has one child or more already.
After delivery a mother may have to get up several times during the night, losing sleep and not getting the rest required to keep up with the demands of an infant. Coupled with the fact that a woman may not be back up to full strength for several weeks, this loss of sleep can severely and adversely affect the woman’s mental well being.
If you or someone you know seems to be a victim of postpartum depression, then you should know that it is treatable. By seeking the advice of a physician early, you can rest assured that Mommy will be there for baby, and all will be well.
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