The medical literature described other clinical states that can happen during pregnancy. It is important to differentiate and identify the clinical state of the mother as each may require a different approach. Some may need psychotherapy, medications, or none at all.
Baby Blues. Considered as the most common form of mood imbalance occurring as early as Day 5 following delivery period and will last until 10 or 14 days. If the symptoms are mild, the mothering role is not compromised, and treatment may not be needed. However, if symptoms worsen, this can lead to a full-blown PPD.
“A new baby is the most exciting event on earth, but caring for the baby is a major new life adaptation. Baby blues is very common – crying and irritability To deal with it, one needs loving support, and others on hand to share in the care,” psychiatrist Dr. Robert Berezin M.D. explains the condition.
Post-partum Depression is a psychological state involving depressive episodes in some mothers occurring during pregnancy or after giving birth. Treatments may include psychotherapy or administration of certain medications to manage or treat the psychological imbalance. Experts believe that this can happen to mothers whose pregnancy is a result of rape or sexual abuse, lack of support from families or the husband, history of mental illness in the family, and hormonal imbalance that happens during pregnancy that may affect the brain functioning to regulate mood and effect.
Postpartum Panic Disorder. Presenting almost the same clinical features of a panic attack, the condition does not primarily display depression but fear or being scared to death. Medications can be given immediately to help the mother get over with panic symptoms. SSRIs or Serotonin reuptake inhibitors can alleviate symptoms of heightened anxiety levels, and CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy can be used as the panic attacks become frequent.
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD). Another mental health state that does not clinically portray depression as the primary problem, but the intrusive thoughts and compulsions following feelings of anxiety over the new role or experience. This is very common for new or young mothers and fathers alike. Being new to the parenting role, they possess the state of fear that they will do harm than good to the infant thus a cycle of obsession and compulsive actions are developed. The good news is that this condition is treatable and only temporary.
Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPPTSD). Giving birth can pose life-threatening situations both to the mother and the infant. Condition or circumstances like undergoing birth trauma such as forceps delivery, prolapse of the cord, or bleeding can lead to a traumatic experience for the mother and may eventually develop into post-traumatic stress disorder. This is also a temporary state and resolves once the mother has fully grasped the situation and with the help of mental health professionals and significant others.
“Postpartum PTSD is very different from Postpartum Depression. The former occurs as a result of trauma (or perceived trauma) during delivery, while the latter happens because of hormonal changes in a woman’s body as a natural result of giving birth,” according to Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD.
Postpartum Psychosis. The most serious and warrants hospital admission as the mother can be a threat to the infant or herself. The mother will be presenting significant signs of psychosis such as thought process deviations like hallucinations, illusion, and delusions. Since inpatient admission is required, the mother is prescribed with antipsychotic medications and psychotherapy in the later stages
Mothers need all the support, assistance, and care they need during pregnancy and after giving birth. The presence of the husband or father is very crucial during the whole pregnancy stage. Family support coming from first-degree family members is very significant to the mother while undergoing this phase of her life. One thing to remember is a happy pregnancy can lead to positive outlooks in the future.
To close, Robert J. Hedaya MD, DLFAPA, ABPN, CFM remind moms and dads: “I encourage child-bearing women to thoroughly discuss any mood disturbances with their physicians and their partner. Your emotional well-being is essential to your health, the health of your child, and the stability of your family.”