Psychological changes when the child is born can give rise to what is sometimes called “maternity blues”. During the first week after childbirth, up to 40-80 percent of all new mothers experience psychological symptoms – however, it is NOT the same as birth depression.
Mental symptoms often occur within 3-4 days after the baby is born, and are completely normal. They may be distinctly pronounced but have mostly disappeared after 7-10 days.
Time for symptoms can come and go for anything from a few hours to several days. The cause is believed to be hormonal. No medical treatment is needed, but much support and understanding from partners and close friends.
Common mental symptoms can be:
• slight depression
• increased anxiety
• difficulty concentrating
• sudden mood swings between sadness and joy
• intense fatigue
• insomnia problems
• increased concern for the child or his or her own health
Postpartum depression PPD – postpartum depression
However, the transient mental symptoms described above are not the same as postpartum depression / postpartum depression (PPD).
In the western world, 10-15% of mothers suffer from some form of what is called postpartum depression, that is, a depression associated with childbirth.
Usually, the symptoms develop gradually during the first three months after delivery, but can rarely develop later.
There is an increased risk of suffering from birth depression if you have previously been treated for depression or if you are a nurse and have suffered depression after the birth of previous children.
It is common for the symptoms to begin with depression, sleep difficulties and fatigue. The child becomes a constant source of worry. The smallest little mistake arouses her mother’s panic and she has strong feelings of guilt. She feels a great deal of hopelessness and has difficulty caring for the child, which generates even more guilt. There may be eating disorders, a feeling of “not being yourself”, of being worthless, and a tendency to blame yourself for the problems. Thoughts of suicide may be included in the picture.
Often, a depressed mother experiences relationship problems with both partners and her surroundings. There is normally no danger to the child, other than through the mother’s passivity and lack of initiative.
An experienced BVC nurse or midwife can often make the diagnosis. The earlier it is set, the better conditions for a quick recovery. The mother can then be offered support calls with BVC psychologist, both individually and together with partners. Referral to psychiatrist and antidepressant treatment may be needed in some cases. Normally no hospital care is required. The prognosis at early detection is very good!
Psychosis after childbirth is uncommon, but it occurs and affects about 1-2 women out of 1,000. The risk of developing the disease is greater for women previously cared for in some form of psychosis.
The disease has a very dramatic course that usually requires hospital care. The symptoms develop rapidly, within a few days and often without warning.
Characteristic of this psychosis are the rapid shifts between violent mood swings, aggressive outbursts, delusions about the child or own body, hallucinations, confusion and disturbances of thought and pure disturbances of consciousness. The mother can be psychotic one moment and perfectly normal the next.
The disease is normally treated successfully with electricity treatment (ECT). Already after a week the mother usually gets rid of the psychosis.
The risk of being affected at the next delivery is 2-3 times greater than for women who have not had the problem before.