Postpartum depression symptoms show up right after delivery. It is not uncommon for women to experience the ‘baby blues’ along with sad, and empty feelings. But if these signs long for more than two weeks, it shows that the new mom needs medical help. It is not something normal yet many women choose not to seek medical help or report it even after months of living with it.
The new survey report by the National Institutes of Health reveals that these postpartum depression symptoms may last up to three years. During this time, it can affect mental and physical health and also cause problems in day to day activities. The new mother may also feel a loss of connection with her baby and sometimes they also feel that it’s not their baby or they don’t love this baby. The complete study findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study collected data from 5000 women showed that every 1 in 4 women experienced extreme depression signs up to three years of delivery. Other women confirmed less-severe depression yet they reported some type of mental distress during this time.
This study was supported and conducted by the research teams from NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests all new mothers be screened for postpartum depression symptoms by pediatricians. They can be analyzed after the routine child checkups at pediatricians that are scheduled after the delivery.
Researchers have identified various risk factors that increase the chance of a woman experiencing severe postpartum depression symptoms. The findings from this survey indicate the need of paying attention to mental health awareness regarding new mothers that should last for a couple of years after delivery.
Health experts suggest that hormonal changes are the leading cause of these postpartum stress. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels are highest and within 24 hours of delivering a baby, these hormonal levels drop back to the pre-pregnancy levels. This quick shift of hormones is linked with stress and depression in the new mothers.
Some women are naturally at higher risk of postpartum depression. Factors such as social isolation, history of depression, family history of postpartum stress, pregnancy-related complications, alcoholism, and unplanned pregnancy can increase the risk of post[artum stress.
It also suggests that the typical six month period to notice any depressive episode among mothers is not enough. There is a dire need to establish new standards and protocols to save them from severe depression which is damaging for her health as well as the baby‘s health.
The information regarding postpartum symptoms was obtained through a small screening questionnaire. This study didn’t proceed to confirm the depression among mothers by clinical diagnostic tools. Women having other conditions such as mood disorders, as well as gestational diabetes, were experiencing more depressive signs than the rest.
All these study participants were white and none of them were non-Hispanic women. More research will give a better picture involving a broad population suggesting how to tackle these long-lasting postpartum symptoms.