Risk of Postpartum Depression During Quarantine
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
With the world facing many uncertainties right now, what is certain is the mental burden it may be taking on some people. Couple this with social unrest and injustices in the states, as well as postpartum hormones… you have a potential storm! This quarantine is certainly taking its toll on some new mommas and families.
Now, more than ever, we need to really focus on our mental health. Worldwide, 13% of women will have Postpartum Depression (PPD) within the first year of giving birth. Baby Whisperers wants to make sure new moms understand what postpartum depression is and how you can get help.
Please read below an edited article from a wonderful information source, Motherly.
What is postpartum depression (PPD)?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that occurs among parents or the caretakers of a newborn.
Depression is an unseen illness, which is why it can often go undiagnosed. But certain clues can help identify someone who needs help. There is no one feeling that categorizes depression. Instead, a person can have a range of emotions that may include:
Sadness, unhappiness or a low mood for two or more weeks
Lack of interest to do anything
A lack of interest in social life or work
Difficulty bonding with their baby
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Frightening thoughts, for example, about hurting their baby*
Decreased energy and feeling tired all the time
Sleep problems at night or feeling sleepy during the day
Irritability, increased emotional reactivity and feelings of guilt
*If you feel like you want to hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1, 24/7 CRISIS Resolve Network (1-888-796-8226), or seek emergency care.
The presence of one of the above does not mean the person is definitely depressed, however. For example, sleep problems and tiredness may be due to taking care of the baby at night, rather than depression. Additionally, difficulty bonding may be due to problems the mom is experiencing with feedings.
It is important not to confuse PPD with the baby blues. While the baby blues have overlapping symptoms, it is much more prevalent (80% of women will experience the baby blues), but it lasts only 10 to 14 days. If your baby blues symptoms last longer than that, it could be PPD. Ultimately, know that it is not your job to diagnose yourself. All you need to do is get on the phone with a therapist. They can help you figure out if what you are experiencing is typical or if concern is warranted.
What causes postpartum depression?
In short, we don't know exactly.
Researchers and providers have identified risk factors associated with postpartum depression and encourage proactive measures prior to birth for intervention.
Some of the most common associated risk factors are similar to those that have been put into place to keep us safe from the coronavirus:
Lack of support from friends or family
Recent stressful life events such as bereavement or being diagnosed with Covid-19
A poor relationship with your partner
Experiencing the baby blues
People at most risk are those who already have a history of mental health problems, particularly depression, especially if it was present during pregnancy. Furthermore, many people have lost their jobs, paid leaves, and/or medical insurances that impact their postpartum experience for their families. This is an additional new high stressor for many parents with infants during the pandemic.
What are the common treatment options for PPD?
Most people associate treatment for depression with medication. However, in most cases, medication is not the first line of treatment for depression. We are now fortunate enough to have a range of very effective options used in the treatment of PPD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
To learn more about these, please visit Motherly.
How to get help for postpartum depression?
The hardest thing by far is making that first step, but once you have, know that we are there to help. Speak to your doctor or midwife, or find a therapist through your insurance company. There are also many telehealth services available. Even in these unprecedented times, most providers are quite apt at doing consultations over the phone.
Here are 5 ways to help friends with PPD during the pandemic.
Phone calls, texts, Zoom, Houseparty, WhatsApp—anything that lets them know you are there for them.
Offer to do their shopping while you do yours.
Leave a homemade meal at the doorstep.
Simply ask them how you can help.
Regularly check up on them and their mental health. Having open discussions on mental health creates a safe space for someone to talk about their worries and concerns and may be more effective in achieving the same outcome.
The most important thing to remember: you are not alone. Not only are you not alone in having depression related to the pandemic, but you are also not alone with postpartum depression. The very first step is reaching out to your doctor or therapist.
We really hope this helps you are someone you know.
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Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN