After the birth of a child, women, but also men, can suffer from mental disorders up to and including psychosis. The best-known postpartum mood crisis is postpartum depression. The treatment takes place on an outpatient or inpatient basis by means of self-help and professional help from a psychologist or psychiatrist.
What are postpartum mood crises?
The postpartum period is the time between childbirth and the regression of pregnancy-related body changes. Typically, the postpartum period lasts between six and eight weeks. The mother is recovering from the pregnancy during this period.
Psychological or behavioral disorders can occur during confinement. The ICD-10 distinguishes between mild mental disorders and severe postpartum disorders. The term postpartum mood crisis summarizes mental states and disorders that occur in connection with the postpartum phase. See howsmb for Radius Head Fracture Definition and Meaning.
Mood crises can range from mild sadness to severe depression and even psychotic states. In addition to the mother herself, the father of the newborn can also be affected by postpartum mood crises. A rough distinction is made between postpartum low mood, postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP).
The causes of postpartum mood crises usually consist of several factors, with the weighting depending on the individual case.
Giving birth is a tremendous physical effort for the mother, which can lead to states of exhaustion. The mother’s abdomen, breasts, metabolism and digestion change significantly after birth. In addition, progesterone levels drop suddenly and can provoke depression-like states.
The drop in estrogen levels causes sleep disturbances at the same time. Often there is also a thyroid hormone deficiency, which can trigger anxiety or panic attacks. From a biological point of view, the mother suffers from powerlessness, exhaustion and possibly depression after the birth.
In addition to the physical factors, there are also psychological factors. The birth often confronts the mother with fear of failure or pain and prompts the woman to say goodbye to her own childhood. New social structures are emerging and can become a psychological burden, such as the role change from career woman to mother and housewife.
Apart from that, many mothers feel pressured by the image of their mother in advertising, films, literature or their own environment. So there are enough causes for the postpartum mood crisis. From an evolutionary-biological point of view, the mother is also signaled an imminent loss of fitness after birth.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Symptoms of a postpartum mood crisis depend on the type of condition. The low mood or baby blues is the mildest form and subsides within hours or days. Mood lability, slight sadness, crying, irritability, worries about the child and exhaustion characterize the clinical picture.
In addition, there are irritability, anxiety, appetite disorders as well as insomnia or restlessness and concentration problems. The main reason for the baby blues is the hormonal change. Postpartum depression or postpartum depression is characterized by insidious development and is associated with physical symptoms.
In addition to a lack of energy, an inner feeling of emptiness, feelings of guilt and an ambivalent attitude towards one’s own child, disinterest, absence and hopelessness can speak for PPD. Thoughts of killing, headaches, abnormal heart rhythms, numbness, and tremors are also common symptoms. The same applies to dizziness as well as concentration and sleep disorders.
Postpartum psychosis is a severe complication of the postpartum period and is associated with paranoid-hallucinatory symptoms, which can be characterized by states of anxiety, agitation and confusion. Mixed forms are mania and schizophrenia during the postpartum period.
Diagnosis & course of disease
In many cases, a postpartum upset or mood crisis is not recognized until physical symptoms appear. Many of those affected are ashamed of their mental state and try to hide thoughts of killing from those around them. Because of the feelings of shame, most women with a mood crisis don’t come out on their own.
In individual cases, family members recognize the psychological upset and contact a psychologist or psychiatrist. The prognosis depends on the subtype of the disease. The baby blues is characterized by an extremely favorable prognosis. Postpartum depression should be treated immediately, as there is a risk of suicide in this case.
Postportal psychosis requires immediate admission to a psychiatric institution and is associated with the worst prognosis. Sometimes this disease does not heal completely, even after years.
The birth of a child, especially the first one, is an exceptional situation in life for practically all women. No matter how desired the child was: the complete restructuring of everyday life and the alignment entirely to the needs of the child are a challenge for every mother. In this respect, postpartum mood crises are not particularly unusual or worrying.
Nevertheless, the course of such a mood crisis must be closely monitored. Even an initial mood crisis can sometimes turn into a full-blown depression. Above all, when a mother feels overwhelmed in her individual life situation and does not get the necessary help, a mood crisis quickly develops. If left untreated, this can lead to major complications. Once a woman has become severely depressed after giving birth, it is usually difficult to get over the illness without specialist medical help.
Severe depression as a complication affects everyday life. Many mothers affected by depression are hardly able to cope with their everyday life and the care of the child on their own. Sometimes an inpatient exemption is required. The first signs of a postpartum mood crisis should therefore be taken seriously and closely monitored as they progress.
When should you go to the doctor?
After the birth of a child, both women and men can experience emotional or psychological fluctuations. The entire course of life is changed by the newcomer. This circumstance represents a new situation that causes stress in many people. Medical assistance is not always required in this phase. As a first step, those affected should try to talk to people who have also had children and who are familiar with the situation. Helpful tips can be exchanged, which in many cases lead to an improvement. There are numerous contact points on the Internet that point out the changes in advance and thus prepare the parents-to-be for the new situation.
However, if the symptoms persist or increase in intensity, a doctor should be consulted. Severe tearfulness, a persistently depressed mood or being overwhelmed should be discussed with a doctor or psychologist. If the everyday requirements cannot be met or if the offspring cannot be adequately cared for, professional support is required. If you are very dissatisfied, have trouble sleeping, are exhausted or have an inner weakness, you should consult a doctor. In the case of aggressive behavior tendencies, disinterest or a lack of care for yourself and the newborn, there is a need for action.
Treatment & Therapy
Self-help plays an important role in the treatment of postpartum depression. Help from your partner, family and friends is just as important. The sufferer may also benefit from professional help with housework or caring for the infant.
In addition to self-help, the postportal low mood usually requires professional care. Severe postpartum depression or psychosis are placed in the hands of professionals as quickly as possible. In this case, hospital stays may be necessary to save the life of mother and child.
Measures such as psychotherapy, music therapy and systemic family therapy are available for professional treatment. These measures are usually combined with conservative medication such as psychopharmacotherapy, naturopathic therapy or hormone therapy.
There are special outpatient clinics for those affected, such as the mother-child outpatient clinic for postpartum mentally ill mothers. In case of doubt, these special outpatient clinics provide inpatient treatment and are not only available to the mother, but also to observing family members to seek help.
Experience has shown that some connections are to be regarded as risk factors for postpartum mood crises. These risk factors include, for example, social isolation. In addition, a lack of support from a partner or family and friends can increase the risk of a mood crisis after childbirth.
The same applies to perfectionism and an exaggerated image of motherhood in pregnant women. In order to prevent mood crises, the mentioned connections should be counteracted before the birth of the child. A mentally stable general situation is to be aimed at.
A postpartum mood crisis should not be taken lightly, even after the actual treatment. Especially if depression already existed after previous births. In addition to providing support during the actual birth, people you trust, such as midwives, should also be available after the birth and use their specialist knowledge to help with problems.
Both doctors and midwives should definitely be persons of trust and provide emotional support in the course of discussions or home visits. Even after the mood crisis, complementary medicines can provide support without having to suffer from side effects. Regular Reiki coaching is a good way to stay free of symptoms such as tiredness, irritability and sadness in the long term.
As an alternative healing method, Reiki can help to work through the causes of bad moods so that those affected feel happiness and contentment in the long term. Reiki coaching provides holistic support and has a positive effect on body, mind and soul. Reiki can be used while sitting, lying down or standing and can also be done in couple sessions.
This alternative method supports the mother’s self-confidence, releases fears and emotional blocks and improves communication with the child. In the course of couple sessions, the parents can do something for themselves together, which will definitely have a positive effect on the child.
You can do that yourself
In order to cope with postpartum mood crises, it is first helpful to talk to the doctor or midwife to find out about their cause and development: Knowledge of the hormonal, but also psychological background can bring relief to the young mother. The partner, trusted family members or a good friend can also serve as the first point of contact during a low mood – if the exchange with them is not enough, professional help or contact with a self-help group should be considered.
Those affected should ensure a healthy diet: If you have a loss of appetite, it is important to eat small meals regularly. Fresh fruit and vegetables provide the body with the necessary vitamins and trace elements, carbohydrates serve as energy suppliers. Adequate fluid intake should also be important. In everyday life, it may be necessary to limit yourself to the most necessary tasks for a while and to temporarily postpone everything that is less important. Those affected should do this without a guilty conscience and not be afraid to accept help in the household and with childcare.
Sufficient sleep and regular recovery phases also help to get out of the postpartum mood crisis more quickly. Exercise also has a positive effect on physical and mental well-being: Even a daily walk in the fresh air can contribute to recovery.