Pregnancy related disorders

Moments of pure of joy

Pregnancy and childbirth are moments of joy and fulfillment. Untarnished instants where there should be no room for trouble or worry. However with this joy comes added responsibility of motherhood, lifestyle changes, increased workload and a severely disrupted sleep-wake schedule; at least for the initial few months. These clubbed with hormonal changes in the mother, can lead to tremendous exhaustion that may exhibit as post partum disorders of pregnancy blues, depression or psychoses.

Pregnancy ‘Blues’

Almost 80% of women experience ‘blues’ following childbirth, with restlessness, irritability, tearfulness, worrying, impaired concentration, feeling of isolation and neglect, and long-lasting headaches. However all these are transient and subside within few days once the hormonal changes subside. Blues can set in a month prior to childbirth and are a pre-warning to watch out for the more complicated problems that can arise.

Pregnancy related depression

A more severe form of disturbance is post partum depression, which results in sadness of mood, low self-esteem, guilt, inability to be comforted, anger spells and panic attacks. Post partum depression can strike at any time till the first year post delivery. It is disabling as caring for the child becomes effortful and the woman may indulge in denial, guilt, self-blame, or aggression. It is unrealistic and family sometimes cannot understand what’s going on. Some may culturally attribute it to black magic or the birth of a female child but these thoughts should be renounced. Essential management includes ruling out physiological problems, offering a healthy diet, and a supportive environment. Cognitive therapy and the use of antidepressants form the mainstay of treatment in port partum depression.

Pregnancy associated psychosis

Another rare problem that may appear around childbirth is post partum psychosis. This constitutes an unusual behavior pattern, abnormal and irrational beliefs, extreme anxiety, fearfulness, hearing voices, memory lapses, and inability to care for the baby. This is comparable to other forms of psychosis; the etiology is however different. This is a lot more severe than depression and warrants immediate treatment with medication. Hospitalization may also be required in extreme cases. Prompt medication decreases the duration of the illness. Success rates with treatment are 100% but it should be initiated at once, to prevent danger to, and neglect of the child; which can occur. Failure to treat may have very disastrous consequences in pregnancy psychosis.

Hormones and the mind

Female hormones closely influence the neurotransmitter systems in the brain. This leads to emotional and behavior change during menses, pregnancy as well as menopause. Hormonal changes need to be dealt with sensitively. Women are not to be blamed, although they do need to accept responsibility for their behavior. Family and friends need to know this and offer all the help possible during the mood swings. If there were a way out, every woman would choose it. It’s something women and their partners have to accept gracefully and handle perceptively.

All under control

At MINDFRAMES we offer one-to-one counseling for pregnant mothers, as well as the fathers-to-be, which helps in enhancing awareness of the post partum responsibilities and roles that are to be adopted. Also, warning signs and symptoms are explained so that the problem is detected and treatment can be initiated well in time. Small doses of medication that are safe for the mother and the child can be initiated. Support form family members in caring for the baby while the mother recovers is imperative too, Response rates are usually 100%. The new mother needs to be in the highest spirits to raise her child right.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is birth-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
After childbirth, women may also experience post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Birth-related PTSD may include:

  • Obsessive thoughts about birth
  • Panic when near the site of birth
  • Feeling numb and/or detached
  • Bad memories of birth experience
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Sadness, fearfulness, irritability
  • Feeling fear, helplessness, horror

Frequently Asked Questions

Is post partum blues same as post partum depression?
Post partum blues are common in 80% deliveries. They are short lived, and transient; while post partum depression is more long lasting and requires medication & behavior therapy to be corrected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does post partum psychosis occur?
Although rare (1 or 2 women per 1000), post partum psychosis occurs; and is attributable to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain owing to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. In rare cases it may mark the beginning of a true psychotic disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can post partum problems be prevented?
To a large extent the post partum mood changes are attributable to the hormonal transitions seen in pregnancy. However, a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook towards motherhood and good social support can reduce the risk of all post partum problems like psychosis and depression.