Postpartum depression is a medical condition faced by the majority of women after childbirth. The symptoms are observed mostly in the females of reproductive age. By the end of pregnancy and before birth, a future mother becomes passive, losing control of the entire situation. She suffers from hypersensitivity and specific feelings, which can be compared to anxiety. Harbingers of postpartum depression are aggravated with the course of time. Anxiety is further reinforced by the inability to address childbirth-related issues. This disorder directly affects the child in the early period of his/her life. Depending on the extent and characteristics of the symptoms of postpartum depression in the mother, this medical condition can also act as a determinant of the unborn child’s future and boost the development of various forms of disorders. Because of postnatal depression, a mother feels that she is not able to cope with her child. The overall harmony necessary for the successful management of issues in the future is also violated.
The feeling of depression, anxiety, devastation, loss of interest in life, causeless irritability, and a sense of alienation from own children are signs of postpartum depression in many women who have given birth. In this case, a woman feels guilt and worthlessness, which causes her to think that she is a bad mother. Depression is also accompanied by the loss of appetite and insomnia. In the first few months, a mother does not have enough strength to do anything. The majority of women suffer from postnatal depression that may take severe forms. In this case, psychological assistance, therapy, and the support of loved ones might not be sufficient. Therefore, doctors recommend using psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants. The current paper seeks to examine postnatal depression, a type of clinical depression that affects a mother after childbirth, and the one that develops gradually or suddenly.
In recent years, the problem of postpartum depression has been one of the most critical medical disorders facing female patients in Western countries. Doctors try to identify the cause of postpartum depression and find whether it is possible to predict and prevent its adverse consequences. However, many questions are still unanswered. Not all mothers suffering from depression seek professional medical assistance. Most of them are afraid to confess, and they admit that childbirth has become a source of painful feelings and a loss of mental balance. If a woman cannot cope with her conditions and she does not get necessary help, depression can last for many months and gradually aggravate.
Postpartum depression occurs due to many reasons. Thus, biological causes include hormonal changes. During the first weeks of motherhood, women face fatigue, weakness, and a natural decline of emotions. The psychological causes include the genetic predisposition of women to emotional disorders, a difficult situation in the family, a sense of frustration and unpreparedness for the drastic changes that motherhood brings (Murray, Halligan, & Cooper, 2010). Through the examination of the causes of postpartum depression, the generalization can determine a close relationship of women with the changes that occur not only on a psychological level but also on social, physical, and chemical ones. All these aspects affect the future life of a baby and a mother. Chemical changes are based on a sudden change in hormonal levels, developing immediately after childbirth (Murray et al., 2011). Scientists have not provided a clear explanation of the relationship that exists between postpartum depression and hormonal levels. However, it is still crucial to take this factor into account as the impact of hormones on the body as a whole and the development of such conditions is indisputable. The number of hormones is also significant issue to consider. During pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone considerably increase, while after the birth, they rapidly decrease.
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In addition to hormonal changes, there are psychological and social ones that are relevant to the child’s birth and mother’s life. They also define serious risks for the development of medical conditions in infants. At the same time, heredity also affects the development of postnatal depression. It implies the ability to respond to changes and stressful situations adopted by mothers from their parents (Leahy‐Warren, McCarthy, & Corcoran, 2012). Stress after childbirth occurs frequently regardless of the scale of health issue. Furthermore, childbearing and birth are also stressful events. In the post-natal period, hormonal changes are associated with a sharp decline in the level of female hormones. In additional to physical causes, there is a sharp drop in the production of thyroid hormones accompanied with a feeling of losing self and severe fatigue that could lead to depression. It is also important to mention metabolic, blood volume changes, and pressure after the childbirth that also affect the mother’s mental state.
The fear of mismatching personal expectations and those of people around also boost the development of postnatal depression in mothers. As a result, the feeling of helplessness penetrates the mother’s mind and soul. The lack of time for the moral and physical recovery also negatively affects the woman’s well-being (Murray et al., 2011). Thus, women find it hard to perform domestic duties due to pain that they face. Furthermore, lactation period, change in appearance, financial issues, and uncertainty in the future could also boost the development of postnatal depression.
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Postpartum depression can occur in different forms, including neurotic depression, melancholy coupled with delusional and neurotic components, and prolonged form of postnatal depression (Stanley, Murray, & Stein, 2004). Common symptoms of this medical condition include lack of mood, motivation, mood variability, weakness, tearfulness, and loss of energy to perform any action. However, women can also suffer from appetite disorders (increased appetite or its lack), sleep disorders (insomnia or, conversely, long sleep), a feeling of worthlessness, the inability to concentrate and make decisions, feeling of guilt, memory disorders, lack of pleasure, interest in familiar or favorite things, headache, and detachment from the usual communication, environment, and close people. In the most severe form, the symptoms of depression after childbirth are combined with women’s thoughts of harming herself and her child (Leahy-Warren & McCarthy, 2007). Finally, there is also lack of mother’s interest in the newborn.
Postpartum depression has a serious, destabilizing impact on the family at a time when peace and harmony are particularly needed. The experience of women suffering from depression is incomprehensible. In most cases, it does not cause sympathy, thus evoking irritation in those around. Therefore, support and understanding of the family are crucial (Dennis et al., 2009). Words of consolation and love can help much more than pills, and doctors confirm this fact. However, support should not be limited to giving advice; close people, friends, and family members should help the woman with housework and care for the baby. Psychologists advise mothers to be more attentive and responsive to their mood and state of health. If they start feeling the first signs of depression, women are encouraged to seek professional help to avoid aggravating the situation. Because of postnatal depression, a mother feels that she is not able to cope with her child. Moreover, the overall harmony necessary for the successful cooperation in the future is also violated. The exposition of positive emotions can help alleviate the burden of the medical condition and respond to the challenges in a proper manner (Dennis et al., 2009). Rest and physical exercises have proved their effectiveness in managing postnatal depression.
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To conclude, in the end of pregnancy and during childbirth, future mothers become passive, losing control of the situation, and, at the same time, they have a feeling of disturbing strangeness that deprives them of leading a healthy life. Childbirth forces a woman to identify herself with her parents to find out how they fulfill their parental obligations. During the maternity period, the reactivation of conflict and trauma occurs. One of the typical symptoms of postpartum depression is the complete unwillingness of mothers to seek professional medical help. It can be explained by a deep sense of guilt that they feel when faced with the difficulties associated with childcare. Mothers feel frustration, which, in turn, may cause guilt and lead to postnatal depression. In addition, some women consider that they alone are responsible for their newborn child. Their daily duties require them to be physically and mentally strong. However, a feeling of helplessness and the growing isolation prevent them from being morally strong and respond to the facing challenges in a proper manner.