Post Partum Depression Essay

Submitted By Skittlez1972
Words: 1093
Pages: 5

Having a baby should be considered one of the most beautiful times in a woman's life. However, although life with a new baby can be both thrilling and rewarding, it can also be a difficult and quite stressful task. Most women make the transition without great difficulty, yet some women experience considerable complexity that may manifest itself as a postpartum psychiatric disorder. The blues "may be a normal reaction to the dramatic physiologic changes that occur after delivery" (Beck 41). Symptoms of the "baby blues" include unstable moods, weepiness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, inability to concentrate, and feeling dependent on others. Postpartum blues doesn't usually require treatment - just good support and reassurance of the mother. However, if the symptoms persist past two weeks, the mother needs to be evaluated for possible depression. If the blues continue and symptoms seem to worsen, prompt medical attention is necessary, as "early symptoms of postpartum depression can be difficult to distinguish from those of the blues; careful follow-up is needed" (Beck 41). For the purposes of this paper, postpartum depression will be referred to mostly as its acronym, "PPD." Left unchecked or ignored, PPD can be very damaging to both mother and infant. It can even escalate into other disorders; such as: postpartum panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or into an even more severe illness (such as postpartum psychosis). "Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric emergency and warrants immediate hospitalization. At a minimum, those who are not hospitalized require 24 hour supervision by an adult. Women with postpartum psychosis are a danger to themselves and to their children, and should never be left alone" (Beck 42). Those at risk for developing postpartum psychosis have a personal or family history of bipolar depression, psychosis, or schizophrenia; mothers with a history of postpartum psychosis or postpartum bipolar happenings are especially at risk. Postpartum psychosis is the most dangerous of all postpartum mood disorders. It is associated with high rates of suicide and infanticide. Fortunately, the incidence of postpartum psychosis is low - about one or two women per one-thousand deliveries (Beck 42). "Mothers usually experience extreme horror and disgust about the obsessive thoughts, and know that these thoughts are indeed their own, and very wrong. The thoughts may be accompanied by behaviors to lower the anxiety, such as hiding knives. Other behaviors such as compulsive cleaning and checking on the baby are likely to be performed." (Bennett & Indman 36)

Postpartum depression has several things in common with the other postpartum mood disorders, the utmost being prevention, if at all possible, and early treatment. The most commonly used pharmacological treatments for PPD and other postpartum mood disorders are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and tricyclic antidepressants such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, and Elavil; benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications such as Klonopin, Ativan and Xanax; antipsychotics such as Haldol, Thorazine and Zyprexa; mood stabilizers such as lithium carbonate; and in some cases, tetracyclic antidepressants such as Effexor. Many physicians feel strongly that a severely depressed mother poses a greater risk to a developing baby than low-level exposure to medication. Another option under these circumstances is to stop breastfeeding. You can even do this temporarily while you're on the medication. If you "pump and dump" your milk, you can maintain the supply so that when you're ready to go back to nursing, your milk will be there. Other factors your doctor will probably consider are the severity of your symptoms, your baby's age, and your emotional attachment to nursing and how meaningful it is to you. "Most tricyclic antidepressants can also be used with minimal risk while a woman is breast-feeding. But for the mother, side effects are sometimes a problem."