As women, we have many obligations to not only ourselves but our family, career, and social life. This, unfortunately, can cause us to feel overwhelmed – like no matter what we do we cannot catch up. However, our outward appearance does not always match our deepest emotions. The need to be everything to everybody might force some to pretend all is okay, when indeed help is needed. Education is key in finding resources to gain knowledge and help for depression.
Depression is real and regrettably two times more common in women than in men. It is more than just feeling sad or upset for a short period of time. Depression has a direct impact on your thoughts, feelings, behavior and physical health. The illness can affect how you relate to your family, friends and coworkers.
Most often depression is diagnosed when an individual shows emotional and physical symptoms continuously for a two week time period. The most common symptoms include loss of interest in activities you enjoy, weight loss/gain, trouble sleeping or too much sleep, loss of energy, change in appetite, feeling of excessive anxiety or guilt, inability to focus and/ or thoughts of suicide.
Researchers have yet determined what specifically causes depression. Depression has been identified as a brain disorder in which the parts of the brain that control mood, sleep and thinking are not functioning properly. Factors that increase the risk of depression include genetics, hormonal changes, stress and other diagnosed illnesses.
The best course of action to prevent or manage depression is seeking guidance from certified medical providers. Depression can be treated through many avenues including lifestyle changes, therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy of interpersonal psychotherapy) and/or medications (antidepressants).
Postpartum Blues and Postpartum Depression
Typically 2-3 days after childbirth, some women experience feeling depressed, anxious and upset. At times they may feel angry towards their spouse, new baby or other children. Some women show signs of unexplainable crying, restlessness, decreased appetite, trouble focusing and questioning their ability to care for the new baby. These symptoms are often identified as “postpartum blues” and tend to get better 1-2 weeks after childbirth. When these symptoms are of an intense level and go on longer than two weeks, most women are diagnosed with postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be caused by a combination of factors such as changes in hormones, history of depression, fatigue/stress, and lifestyle factors such lack of social support, low income, breastfeeding problems and/or increased family responsibilities.
At VPFW, we have all postpartum patients complete an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Survey to evaluate their emotional status over the past 7 days. The provider uses this information as a guide to determine if further evaluation and treatment is needed.
In addition to having open communication with your medical provider, Postpartum Support Virginia (PSV) is available to new and expectant mothers at no cost. The organization provides patients and families with telephone support, educational resources and referrals.