Sleepless and depressed: postpartum depression

July 15, 2009 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

motherly_lovePostpartum depression (PPD): only mothers have the bad luck of going through such an ordeal. Fortunately, in most cases, PPD is not permanent but rather reversible. Tell me about it. I’ve had it myself – an extended one actually because I had twins. A case of a double dose of stress perhaps?

Anyway, many hypotheses have been put forward as to what causes depression in postpartum women. Latest research suggests that sleep disturbances may play a key role in PPD. In a study of 2,830 Norwegian mothers, the following results were reported:

  • 60% of the participating women admitted to be suffering from sleep deprivation. Of these, 16.5 suffered from depressive symptoms.
  • 21% of women with PPD reported to have been already depressed during pregnancy.
  • 46% of those with PPD reported to have had at least 1 episode of depression before getting pregnant.
  • Average nightly sleep duration was reported to be 6.5 hours.
  • Sleep efficiency was 73%.

It seems that PPD is not only due to poor sleep quality but to a history of depression before and during pregnancy. Other factors such as a bad relationship and stressful life events may also play a role. However, tiredness and lack of sleep can aggravate the depressive symptoms. The association between depression and poor sleep was observe to set in about four months after delivery.

Experts find it is important to find out whether the depression causes the sleep disturbances or whether it is the tiredness that causes the depression. To complete the vicious cycle, babies of moms with PPD also tend to suffer from sleep disturbances from age two weeks to six months, according to another research.

According to lead researcher of the Norwegian study Dr. Karen Dørheim, psychiatrist at Stavanger University Hospital in Norway,

“It is important to ask a new mother suffering from tiredness about how poor sleep affects her daytime functioning and whether there are other factors in her life that may contribute to her lack of energy. There are also helpful depression screening questionnaires that can be completed during a consultation. Doctors and other health workers should provide an opportunity for postpartum women to discuss difficult feelings.”

In addition, the researchers also looked at the factors that affect sleep quality in postpartum moms and they’ve identified the following to cause poor sleep quality:

  • depression
  • history of sleep problems
  • having a younger or male infant
  • being a first time mother
  • not exclusively breastfeeding

Postpartum sleep quality seems to be better when the baby sleeps in another room.

What is Postpartum Depression?

April 8, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Joanne King

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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Depression and Pregnancy

April 6, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By DM Driscoll

Science and Mythology of Depression and Pregnancy

When considering both depression and pregnancy, it is important to separate science from mythology. One pervasive parcel of mythology extant today is that women who have depression can negate it by getting pregnant. Popular myth dictates that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy will somehow alter brain chemistry, lifting pregnant women out of depression. In the past, doctors even espoused this link between depression and pregnancy as true. Today, science has largely disproved this.

A number of tests conducted in Massachusetts about the link between depression and pregnancy concluded that pregnancy actually has no effect on clinical depression whatsoever: getting pregnant does not alter brain chemistry in any way that might alleviate depression – and even worse, getting pregnant often has the opposite effect: it can actually worsen depression.

What make the depression worse are the restrictions pregnancy imposes. This link between depression and pregnancy is clear. For instance, being pregnant often imposes limited mobility and limited eating choices. Additionally, being pregnant often restricts medicinal choices.

Many antidepressants have been flagged by the FDA – and, as such, are no longer available to pregnant women, as they have the potential to cause birth defects. This link between depression and pregnancy means that a woman could go through a serious bout of depression during pregnancy without any medicinal form of recourse.

Another potential problem that pregnancy brings is postpartum depression. Even for those who aren’t depressed, this can still be a problem, as approximately 10% of all pregnant women experience it. Postpartum depression doesn’t occur during the pregnancy, but after it, as the name suggests; and is usually triggered by hormonal changes that occur during and after birth. Most who suffer from it also have the same symptoms of those with clinical depression. Additionally, postpartum depression is generally treated in the same manner as standard forms of depression. Effective methods generally focus on behavioral restructuring, antidepressant medication, and counseling.

More information about depression and risks of anti-depressant drugs can be found at this authors website Understanding Depression

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Postpartum Depression

March 8, 2007 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

By Michael Colucci

Postpartum depression is a condition that is primarily seen in women who have just given birth. While it may also be present in men, it is not as extensive. This disorder is considered to be a type of major depression, and there are a number of ways it can be treated. Postpartum depression is experienced by over 70% of women who have recently given birth. The symptoms for this condition may last for hours or days, and patients will be irritable, unable to concentrate, and may also experience a loss of sleep or headaches.

The diagnosis for postpartum depression is similar to other forms of major depression. However, the difference between PPD and other forms of depression is that those who are suffering from PPD will typically begin having symptoms a month after they have given birth. In addition to this, the condition may also develop during the pregnancy as well. Many of the causes of PPD are not well understood. However, there are a few factors that are believed to cause the disorder. One cause is the prenatal depression that may be experienced during pregnancy. A woman who has a low self esteem is also at a higher risk for developing PPD.

Women who are not receiving social support, or who are in a bad relationship with their spouse will also have higher chances of developing PPD. In addition to this, women who have previously suffered from depression are also likely to develop postpartum depression after they have given birth. Many women who given birth do not have the support of the father, and this person may not be present. In situations like this, the development of PPD is likely. Some studies also indicate that hormone changes in the body of a woman who has just given birth may cause PPD, but there are currently no concrete facts to support this.

When a child is born, both parents will be responsible for altering their lifestyle in a way that will benefit the child. In a situation like this, some believe that the radical changes that may need to be made to support the infant may play a role in the development of PPD, but there have been now studies which have found that this theory is accurate. While it is rare, some women can develop extreme forms of PPD, and this can lead to delusions or other severe mental health problems. It should be noted that only about 0.1% of women experience this, and most women only have moderate forms of the disorder. However, a women who has a mental illness before you gives birth is very likely to develop an extreme form of this condition.

Studies which have been conducted on animals indicate that a parent will not invest in the well being of their young when costs involved are higher than the benefits. Some animals have even been observed killing or abandoning their offspring. Because human babies require so much care, a mother who is forced to care for the child on her own may not have the necessary tools to care for the child, and may risk harming herself. Many of these women may begin to have negative fews of their children, and may not be responsive to the needs of the child.

Michael Colucci is a writer for Postpartum Depression which is part of the Knowledge Search network

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