Dr. Huysman, a Clinical Psychologist, is the director of the mood disorders program at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
There are three levels of postpartum depression. All three levels cause the person to experience the same symptoms which characterize other depressive disorders...sadness, emptiness, loss of interest and pleasure, irritability and anger, changes in appetite, sleep problems, restlessness, slow movement and thinking, fatigue, worthlessness and guilt, poor concentration, thoughts about death and suicide.
With the mildest form of --called the postpartum blues--these symptoms begin three or four days after giving birth. The symptoms increase over the next few days, but are gone within about two weeks.
The second level of , called postpartum major depression, causes more severe symptoms which last longer.
At times the symptoms can become so serious that the person looses the ability to distinguish between what is and what is not reality. This is the third level of , called postpartum psychosis.
The person experiencing this condition often has delusions or beliefs which are not consistent with reality. They also may have hallucinations where they see things or hear voices which are not real.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition only occurring once in every 1000 cases of according to Dr. Huysman.
The disorder is believed to be caused by the stressors which accompany pregnancy. These include endocrine changes. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone are at very high level levels. These hormones decrease rapidly following giving birth. It is possible that the drop in levels of hormones is what causes the symptoms.
Other stressors may include the major changes in life style, responsibilities, living expenses, and family composition which accompany being a new parent. There are also the changes in body image which occur during pregnancy.
Treatment for needs to include both medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressant medication can be used to reduce the symptoms of the disorder.
Psychotherapy is beneficial in helping the new mother adjust to her new life situation. Psychotherapy can also help Mom learn to better manage stress, overcome emotional conflicts, resolve stressful conflict with other people, solve situational problems, and can provide her with emotional support.
Valerie Davis Raskin, author of, This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming , explains that overcoming must include changing self-defeating thoughts and improving self-esteem.
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