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Postpartum Depression: What is Postpartum Depression?
This is a type of depression that can occur within the first few months of childbirth, or after a miscarriage or stillbirth. This is different than the “baby blues” which many women have in the first few weeks after childbirth. With the typical “baby blues,” some of the same symptoms may occur such as moodiness, being teary, increased sadness, or difficulty sleeping. But there are still feelings of happiness about your baby, and these symptoms go away in a few weeks. With the typical baby blues, the symptoms aren’t as severe or as long-lasting as actual postpartum depression, which can last for months.
The most severe form of this disorder is postpartum psychosis, in which a woman may feel cut off from her baby, altogether. She may hallucinate, seeing and hearing things that aren’t actually there. It is not uncommon for any woman experiencing postpartum depression to have brief thoughts of suicide (http://suicidehotlines.com/national.html or call 800-784-2433) or thoughts of harming her baby. The difference is that when a woman develops postpartum psychosis, she may feel as though she must act on these thoughts.
Postpartum Depression and Brain Function:
Hormone levels in the brain are changed after pregnancy which can result in postpartum depression. In the months after childbirth, miscarriage or stillbirth, any woman could be at risk for this disorder. With the qEEG or Brain Map as an assessment tool, we can see the electrical activity of the brain. We can then determine where and how the dysregulation occurs, allowing us to develop treatment protocols to put the brain back into balance without medication.
There is a greater chance of getting postpartum depression if:
- You have a history of depression or postpartum depression
- You have a poor support system (partner, friends, or family)
- Your baby is colicky or sick
- You have an abundance of other stressors in your life
There is a greater chance of developing postpartum psychosis if you or a family member has a history of bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depression).
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Postpartum Depression and Common Symptoms:
The following symptoms may occur in the first day or two after delivery or they can follow the symptoms of the baby blues after a couple of weeks.
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
- Feelings of anxiety
- Inability to bond or care for the baby
- Loss of pleasure in everyday things
- Weight loss and not feeling hungry (alternately, some women feel more hungry and gain weight)
- Sleep difficulty
- Concentration is more difficult
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Postpartum Depression: Postpartum Depression Case Study
Julie was 26 when she had her first baby. The pregnancy was a wonderful experience with none of the morning sickness or any type of mood swings she expected. When she decided to have another baby at age 28 she was hopeful. Even though her family was wrought with women who experienced Postpartum Depression, and other family members who suffered from both anxiety and depression, her first pregnancy and its success gave her reason to think she would be once again lucky to have escaped this disorder.
Near the end of her second pregnancy, she had a panic attack. Her husband left the house one evening to run an errand, and she became unreasonably fearful of being alone. She was genuinely shocked at her reaction, but could do nothing about it. By the time her husband returned, he was able to calm her down but she was unable to sleep that night. The next day however, she could sleep and she though little of the panic attack. Within 5 days of delivering her daughter, she describes descending into a spiral of depression and anxiety. When she could sleep at night, she woke in a panic. Most days she could not eat and had the feeling of not being able to breathe. She was in a constant state of fear. She went to many doctors who wanted to prescribe medications, but she did not want to pursue that avenue due to her family history with Postpartum Depression and medication side effects.
Finally she found a doctor who suggested Neurofeedback along with Counseling. She was given an article to read about this treatment and decided this was the path she would pursue. It took approximately 3 months before she began to feel somewhat normal, and after 9 months of treatment she felt free from the bondage of depression and anxiety brought about by the Postpartum Depression.
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