Depression after pregnancy

Depression after pregnancy

Maternity tears
Maternal tears usually start a day or 3 after delivery and last for about 10 to 14 days. Half of all women who gave birth suffer from them.
It is also called the 'baby blues'; poor sleep, feeling vulnerable and insecurity burst into crying at the slightest little thing. The cause may be the waterfall of hormones combined with the new mother feeling overwhelmed. The emotional express train and fatigue can cause a lot of tears. This period after the birth of your child soon disappear and does not affect the way you care for your child.

Postnatal or Postpartum depression
'Enjoy it' you will often hear when the baby is born. But sometimes that famous pink cloud is hard to find. This should be the best time of your life but you feel sad and depressed. 10 to 20% of all women who have given birth suffer from depression. In contrast to maternity tears, this depression does not simply pass. The symptoms can present themselves as:

  • listlessness
  • a black cloud over everything you do
  • weight loss
  • insomnia or extreme fatigue
  • no love towards the child (sometimes even hatred towards the child)
  • being overly concerned and forgetting the rest of the world
  • crying
  • guilt
  • feeling desperate
  • physical complaints such as headaches and abdominal pain

You are more likely to have depression if you were already suffering from stress before delivery or pregnancy. The treatment is different for each woman. With the right medication and guidance, for example in the form of talk therapy, the symptoms can usually diminish or disappear within a few weeks.

Maternity or Postpartum psychosis

Puerperal psychosis - also called postpartum psychosis (PPP) - is not to be confused with Postnatal Depression. Expert Karin den Oudsten describes the difference between these two in her book as follows: "In psychosis you end up in another world, in a different consciousness. In depression you stay in the here and now, but your emotions are quite messed up."

Maternity psychosis develops after the delivery of a child. Before the psychotic symptoms, the mother often sleeps badly and becomes restless, irritable or excited. These symptoms can start a few hours to a few weeks after delivery, but stopping breastfeeding can also be a reason. Whether these symptoms cause psychosis or are symptoms of the disease is not clear.

One to two in every 1,000 births leads to postpartum psychosis. The chance is greatest when giving birth to the first child. Women who end up in psychosis after having a child have an immune system that does not function properly after childbirth and are therefore seriously mentally distressed. They can get suicidal thoughts or delusions. They may even think that the baby is better off dead.


Getting help
Go to your doctor or midwife if you:

you feel very depressed a few days after giving birth
can not function properly in daily life or can not take good care of your baby or other children
feel very angry a few days after the birth
sleep less than 2 hours per night
have violent thoughts about yourself, your child or others and suffer from hallucinations or voices in your head

The treatment consists of a combination of medication, tranquilizers / sleeping pills and possibly hormones. In case of mild psychosis you can stay home to recover, in case of a heavier psychosis you will be admitted to the psychiatric department of a general hospital (PAAZ). The recovery period is about 2 to 3 months.

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