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BY CABELL SMITH MELSON

It is often difficult to differentiate between this set of blues and that, when one is sleep deprived, spent physically and mentally, and undergoing major physiological changes. Pregnancy sends the female body into new levels of hormones, and childbirth leads to miraculous abilities. It is no surprise that the end result is a crash landing for the female body. Determining if it is the "baby blues" or postpartum depression will help the mother with coping mechanisms. Defining symptoms have been identified to help treat mothers, and thus, be healthier. Babies are a beautiful gift, and one that should be enjoyed by all. -Editor

The following descriptions were taken from the federal government's source for women's health information, www.womenshealth.gov (http://www.4women.gov/FAQ/postpartum.htm)

Differentiating between "baby blues" and postpartum depression:

The Baby Blues

  • Can happen in the days right after childbirth
  • Normally goes away within a few days to a week.
  • Symptoms include sudden mood swings, sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, and feeling irritable, restless, anxious, and lonely.
  • Symptoms are not severe and treatment isn't needed.
  • Possible helpful solutions for the "baby blues:" Nap when the baby does. Ask for help from your spouse, family members, and friends. Join a support group of new moms or talk with other moms.

Postpartum Depression

  • Can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth.
  • Symptoms range from sadness, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, anxiety, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  • Often affects a woman's well-being and keeps her from functioning well for a longer period of time (biggest difference from "baby blues"
  • Needs to be treated by a doctor. (Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help).

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

  • Occurs in 1 or 2 out of every 1000 births
  • Usually begins in the first 6 weeks postpartum.
  • Women who have bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder have higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis.
  • Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, obsessive thoughts about the baby, and rapid mood swings, from depression to irritability to euphoria.

Cabell Smith Melson, mother of four, lives in South Stafford and teaches preschool.

Extensive information, up-to-date articles and helpful resources can be found on postpartum depression at http://webmd.com, http://health.yahoo.com, and http://revolutionhealth.com.

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