New mums might be confused about why their excitement for their newborn baby suddenly turned to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. After delivery, mums may be overwhelmed by a wave of fatigue and mood swings that go from good days to incredibly bad days that make you start to doubt becoming a mother.
About 15 percent of new mothers experience what is called postpartum depression (PPD). Different from baby blues, this disorder causes either mild or severe depression among mums to the point that they may start losing interest in the world around them, including their baby.
But, there are available treatment and support for mothers suffering from PPD. While it was believed to last only about weeks, a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that postpartum depression may last longer for about 3 years after birth.
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Longer PPD Screenings For Clearer Results
Diane Putnick, a staff scientist for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and her team of researchers found that extending the screening tests for postpartum depression up to at least 2 years after giving birth.
“These long-term data are key to improving our understanding of mom’s mental health, which we know is critical to her child’s well-being and development,” says Dr Putnick.
Researchers analysed 5,000 mothers and their symptoms for 3 years after they gave birth to their children. Mothers were given a brief screening questionnaire with five items on depression. They clarified that they did not clinically diagnose any of the women of depression for this test.
The results then showed that 1 in 4 women still had high levels of depression after birth within 3 years. The rest of the women had low levels of depression but were still experiencing them regardless within this span of time.
Through the study, women with underlying conditions like mood disorders or gestational diabetes were also found “to have higher levels of depressive symptoms” and could be at higher risk of postpartum depression.
They also took note of how most of the mothers that participated were white, non-Hispanic women. “Future studies should include a more diverse, broad population to provide more inclusive data on postpartum depression,” adds Dr Putnick.
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Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
To understand further just how much postpartum depression can affect new mums, here are 9 common symptoms.
Feelings of hopelessness, anger or sadness
Sudden loss of appetite
Headaches, backaches and joint pain
Crying and feelings of irritability
Thinking of harming yourself or others
Lack of motivation
Having difficulties to concentrate
For any mothers who are fighting a silent battle on their own, know that this can be treated and to find support from those around you.