Category: PPD Awareness

The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression – What You Need to Know

One of the many questions we have received on our social media pages revolve around the baby blues and postpartum depression. Moms have reached out wanting to know whether there’s a difference between the two, and the need to ask for help. In line with our mission to raise awareness and reduce stigma on Postpartum depression (PPD), we had this topic for our second bi-monthly tweetchats. We defined the two conditions, looked at their symptoms as well as outlined the differences between the two (Find link to thread attached below, alongside our social media pages).

The baby blues, also referred to as postpartum baby blues, refer to a mild condition that many new moms will experience in the days following child birth. This condition is characterized by mood swings, crying spells, difficulty sleeping as well as an overall sense of fatigue as moms adjust to their new role of taking care of the baby.

Research shows that upto 80% of new moms struggle with the baby blues, usually beginning a day or two after birth. The precise cause of baby blues is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to the sudden drop in reproductive hormones after a baby is born. During pregnancy, progesterone hormone is at an all-time high, and this plummets immediately after birth. These chemical changes are thought to trigger mood swings as seen during baby blues.

The most important thing to remember about baby blues is that they are mild and shortlived, usually going away on their own after about a week or two. As such, they do not require any treatment.

PPD on the other hand, is a maternal mental health illness that affects up to 20% of new moms. According to research findings,PPD is the result of a complex interplay of genetics, sudden hormonal changes and external risk factors that lead to one of the most common maternal mental illnesses.

Genetics come in where some moms are predisposed to PPD because someone in the family – a mom, aunty, sister, cousin or gramdmother – suffered the same form of depression. This is also seen in cases where family members live with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or OCD among others.

Sudden hormonal changes on the other hand, also play a role in moms who develop PPD. As mentioned above, the sudden changes in hormonal levels leads to chemical changes in the brain, and this is a risk factor for Depression.

External risk factors refer to a myriad of issues or stressors that may place a given mom at a higher risk of PPD than another. these stressors include, but are not limited to previous child loss, an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, financial constraints, a traumatic birth experience and lack of a support system. Delivering a child with special needs has also been known to predispose moms to PPD.

In addition to this, new moms are constantly exhausted and suffer great sleep deprivation. This often causes physical pain and fatigue which makes it incredibly challenging to take care of a newborn. Many moms will admit that the changes in sleep patterns, coupled with the healing after birth (whether from natural delivery or a CSection) can worsen the symptoms of depression.

In contrast with baby blues, PPD is more severe, has more intense symptoms, lasts a longer period (up to one year after delivery) and will often require treatment to help a mom recover. the image below outlines the key differences between baby blues and PPD.

Baby blues are mild, short-lived and will usually go away on their own. PPD on the other hand, is more intense, lasts up to one year after delivery and will require treatment for moms to recover. More information on ppdkenya.com
the difference between baby blues and PPD

The most important thing for moms to remember is that it is not a fault of theirs that they struggle with maternal mental illness. PPD can affect any mom regardless of their social status/ age/ religion/ race/ sexual orientation/ marital status. There’s hope and affected moms need not struggle alone. Please reach out to us on email (ppdkenya@gmail.com) and we will help you get the help you need. We also run support groups in Nairobi (presently), and you can read more about that here.

Below are snippets of our second tweetchat on baby blues and PPD. Get the whole thread here, and while at it, please follow us too 🙂

 

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5 Celebrities who have opened up about their struggles with Postpartum Depression

Chrissy Teigen opens up about her PPD journey after Luna

Maternal mental health is an important part of public health, and a major challenge across the world. According to WHO, 13% of women who have just delivered will suffer some form of mental disorder. This figure is known to be higher in developing countries where the statistics paint a grim picture of 19.8% of women affected after child birth. In extremely severe cases, many moms die by suicide following unaddressed mental health challenges.

It is important to mention that postpartum depression (PPD), one of the most common perinatal mood disorders, can affect anyone including celebrities. Contrary to popular belief, the risk factors associated with PPD do not exempt the rich and famous. A number of celebrity moms have gone public with their PPD stories. I am an advocate for celebrity moms creating a shift with this because it is a loud message to the ‘ordinary’ mom that motherhood may not always be a glowing bubble.

Read More: ‘Free PPD Test’ – The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS)

Adele

Adele opened up about her struggles with Postpartum Depression in an interview with Vanity Fair. She admits to having bad PPD and been so scared. She made a point to add that it helps one become a better mom to cut themselves some slack and take some time off. In her words,

“My knowledge of postpartum—or post-natal, as we call it in England—is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

American actress and singer,Paltrow has admitted to struggling with PPD following her son’s birth in 2006. In an interview with People, the mom of two confessed to feeling nothing, and having no maternal instincts for her son. She added that, while she harbored no thoughts of harm, she did not experience the blissful doting emotions either.

“I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.”

Fortunately for Paltrow, support from her husband helped her on the journey to recovery.

Read More: WE celebrated with PPDKenya support group cycle 01!

Kendra Wilkinson

In an interview with OK!, Kendra, a reality TV star and mother of two spoke in detail about experiencing PPD after her son’s birth. Her account shows that PPD does manifest in different forms, and can be a very subtle thing. For many affected moms, there is little energy to do the most basic of daily tasks, and this includes showering and combing hair.

“After giving birth, I never brushed my hair, my teeth, or took a shower. I looked in the mirror one day and was really depressed.”

Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen wears many feathers on her hat: model, TV host, best -selling cookbook author and mother. It is the latter that has, in 2017, endeared her to many moms following her admission that she struggled with PPD after giving birth to her daughter Luna. In her candid interview with Glamour, Chrissy wrote,

“I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy. What basically everyone around me—but me—knew up until December was this: I have postpartum depression. How can I feel this way when everything is so great?”

She goes on to add some of the symptoms she had:

“Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful. My lower back throbbed; my ­shoulders—even my wrists—hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me… I also just didn’t think it could happen to me.”

She admits to never leaving the house and spending days on end on the couch, with endless bouts of spontaneous tears before she was finally diagnosed with PPD and postpartum anxiety. Chrissy got professional help, medication and had a support system especially from her man, John Legend.

Chemutai Sage

Locally, Chemutai Sage, a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist went public about her struggles with PPD. In an interview with MumsVillage, the singer mentioned realizing something was amiss when her daughter was about 5 months. During this period, she would experience crazy emotions which she often associated with her child. She kept thinking to herself,

“If I didn’t have the baby…”

In the MumsVillage show, Sage shared that she did realize these were not commonplace emotions, something which got more pronounced with her inability to leave her room for days – there was simply no joy in doing so. Sage did get help, and had a strong support system that helped her in her recovery journey.

Read More: Blackish addresses PPD in Season 4

This post is a reminder that, if you are struggling with PPD, you are not alone. By speaking openly about this form of maternal disorder, celebrities amplify the voices of many moms who may be going through the motions in silence. Remember too, that you can get in touch (via the contact page) if you are wondering where to get help or need someone to talk to.

 

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The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)

Postpartum Depression (PPD), same as Postnatal Depression (PND – which by the way, I have found is used a lot in the UK) is one of the most common mental health disorders in women. Statistics show that between 11 and 20% of women who deliver every year will experience symptoms of PPD. That’s about 2 in every 10 women are going to get PPD. One of the tools that has been developed to identify women who are at risk of perinatal (that is both antenatal and postpartum) depression is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). EPDS is an efficient screening tool that consists of 10 questions listed alongside a set of values. Below are the guidelines for using the EPDS.

  1. The mom-to-be/ mom is asked to tick the answer that describes closely how she has been feeling in the previous 7 days.
  2. All questions must be answered.
  3. Caution should be exercised to ensure that answers are not discussed as this could skew the results. That is, answers should only come from the expectant woman or mother herself.

NOTE: The EPDS is not a diagnostic tool and must be used alongside clinical assessment. For this reason, it should not be used for self-diagnosis. If you go through this set of questions and suspect that you may be suffering, consult a doctor to ensure you get professional help. Secondly, one of the questions (#10) is on suicidal thoughts and must be answered before the report is submitted. If the item is checked, a follow up should be made so as to ascertain the level of risk and make the necessary arrangements for mother and child.

Read More: Why is a PPD support group important?

As you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, we would like to know how you are feeling. Please check the answer that comes closest to how you have felt IN THE PAST 7 DAYS, not just how you feel today. 

Here is an example, already completed. 

I have felt happy:

 [ ] Yes, all the time 

 [X ] Yes, most of the time 

[ ] No, not very often

[ ] No, not at all

This would mean: “I have felt happy most of the time” during the past week. 

Please complete the other questions in the same way.

 

In the past 7 days:

  1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things

[ ] As much as I always could

[ ] Not quite so much now

[ ] Definitely not so much now

[ ] Not at all

 

  1. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things

[ ] As much as I ever did

[ ] Rather less than I used to

[ ] Definitely less than I used to

[ ] Hardly at all

 

*3   .I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, some of the time

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, never

 

  1. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason

[ ] No, not at all

[ ] Hardly ever Yes

[ ] sometimes Yes

[ ] very often

 

*5.  I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason

[ ] Yes, quite a lot

[ ] Yes, sometimes

[ ] No, not much

[ ] No, not at all

 

*6.  Things have been getting on top of me

[ ] Yes, most of the time I haven’t been able to cope at all

[ ] Yes, sometimes I haven’t been coping as well as usual

[ ] No, most of the time I have coped quite well

[ ] No, have been coping as well as ever

 

*7.  I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, sometimes

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, not at all

 

 

*8.  I have felt sad or miserable

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, not at all

 

*9   I have been so unhappy that I have been crying

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Only occasionally

[ ] No, never

 

 

*10.The thought of harming myself has occurred to me

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Sometimes

[ ] Hardly ever

[ ] Never

 

SCORING

QUESTIONS 1, 2, & 4 (without an *)

Are scored 0, 1, 2 or 3 with top box scored as 0 and the bottom box scored as 3

QUESTIONS 3, 5¬10 (marked with an *)

Are reverse scored, with the top box scored as a 3 and the bottom box scored as 0

Scores

0-9: Scores in this range may indicate the presence of some symptoms of distress that may be short-lived and are less likely to interfere with day to day ability to function at home or at work. However if these symptoms have persisted more than a week or two further enquiry is warranted.

10-12 : Scores within this range indicate presence of symptoms of distress that may be discomforting. Repeat the EPDS in 2 weeks time and continue monitoring progress regularly

. If the scores increase to above 12 assess further and consider referral as needed.

13 +: Scores above 12 require further assessment and appropriate management as the likelihood of depression is high. Referral to a psychiatrist/psychologist may be necessary.

Item 10: Any woman who scores 1, 2 or 3 on item 10 requires further evaluation before leaving the office to ensure her own safety and that of her baby.

 

Resource Material

Source: Cox, J.L., Holden, J.M., and Sagovsky, R. 1987. Detection of postnatal depression: Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. British Journal of Psychiatry 150:782-786.

Screening for antenatal depression with the Edinburgh Depression Scale

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Treatment options for Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD), as mentioned in the previous post, is one of the most common perinatal mood disorders globally, with at least 1 in every 7 mothers getting affected.

Read on the symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Looking out for these symptoms is an effective way to gain clarity into this condition for the simple reason that there is not a single specific test that diagnoses the presence of PPD. Consequently, for therapy to begin, health practitioners are tasked with collecting extensive information as pertains to an individual’s medical past, their health history as well as the circumstances surrounding their pregnancy; generally a background check into their life.

Once this is complete, Contine Reading…

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Facts and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Postpartum Depression is one of the most common perinatal mood disorders that affect women after child birth. According to Postpartum International (PSI), 1 in 7 women will suffer PPD in their lifetime. To bring this closer home, think about seven of your friends who are new moms. It is likely that 1 of the 7 will struggle with PPD. In Kenya, there are more than 1.5 Million births annually (Statistics from UNICEF). Assuming that most of these births are not multiple births, we can assume that as many as 200,000 women are predisposed to PPD in Kenya alone. These are sobering statistics, and it is this grim reality that spurred us to raise awareness, reduce stigma of PPD and provide psychosocial support for affected moms. With this in mind, what are some of the symptoms associated with PPD? In an attempt to reduce stigma of PPD, we have decided to add these symptoms without the medical jargon,and as simply as possible. Continue Reading…

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