Postpartum depression affects about 10-20% of new mothers. Gradually, during the weeks following the birth of the child, the mother may experience a real depressive collapse. The latter, shaken by a great psychic fragility, feels gradually, overwhelmed by her emotions that she no longer manages to manage. She feels a certain vulnerability both physically and psychically, due to having to take care of her newborn.
This disease is progressively established and usually occurs when the baby is between 2 and 8 weeks old, but it can also occur several months after childbirth.
Women who have never had a depressive episode before can trigger postpartum depression.
Major Postpartum Psychic Disorders
We can distinguish baby blues, postpartum depression and puerperal psychosis:
“The baby blues”
Baby blues involve 30-80% of women and usually occur between the 3rd and 6th day after childbirth. It causes a feeling of depression with fatigue, tension and a desire to cry for no reason. In the case of postpartum blues, drug treatment is not necessary, support from relatives and caregivers is usually sufficient to eliminate it within 4 to 7 days.
A simple postpartum depression occurs within 2 to 8 weeks after childbirth and can be a continuation of a baby blues.
In young mothers, there are depressive and anxious symptoms: an unstable mood, a feeling of discouragement, insistent somatic complaints like headaches or abdominal pain, but above all, impulse phobias, that is to say An obsession in the consciousness of the subject, who is afraid of losing control of his actions and of committing absurd, inappropriate and even dangerous gestures for himself or for others, with the theme ” Harm to her baby “.
Mothers with postpartum depression tend to isolate themselves. Sometimes they will multiply pediatric consultations for a variety of reasons, such as dietary difficulties or sleep disorders of the child.
It is important to identify such a mood disorder and to propose appropriate treatment because maternal depression can lead to early and pathological mother-child relationships that can alter the development of the baby. The mother must be taken care of so that the episode is not prolonged and the early interactions take place in the best conditions.
The puerperal psychosis:
Puerperal psychosis occurs within the first 2 weeks after delivery. There are confusional and depressive symptoms, acute anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, paranoia, hysteria, delusions and mood disorders that predominate in the clinical picture.
The delusions will be centered on the child or the birth. The mother has the delirious conviction that the child is not hers, or feels responsible for her alleged death. The major risk is suicide or infanticide or, in some cases, 2. This is altruistic suicide.
Hospitalization in a mother-infant unit should be indicated. Although evolution is generally good under treatment, puerperal psychosis can signal the entry of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In 20% of cases, there is a risk of recurrence of puerperal psychosis in a future pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression
Postpartum depression resembles many other forms of depression, although some symptoms are associated with negative thoughts about the newborn. Signs and symptoms vary in each case, but most are:
– sleep disorders and severe insomnia
– a psychomotor slowdown (difficulty concentrating, decreased alertness, memory gaps, difficulties in following or participating in a conversation)
– a fluctuation of appetite
– a desire to cry permanently
– constant fatigue
– psychological exhaustion
– an absence of joy, a feeling of being unhappy
– difficulty in thinking, concentrating or even acting
– social isolation, isolation
– an alteration of the perception of oneself and others
– a feeling of being an incompetent mother, a strong sense of failure, helplessness and unfitness
– a lack of interest in her or the newborn or, on the contrary, an excessive concern about the baby
– a fear of harming the newborn
– severe mood swings
– suicidal thoughts