Lived Experience of Postpartum Depression in Orthodox

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Lived Experience of Postpartum Depression in Orthodox

 Postpartum depression is a complex phenomenon with numerous interrelated factors [1-3]. Approximately 13% of women experience some degree of depression following childbirth [4-5]. Mental health professionals who specialize in reproductive psychiatry have described postpartum depression as consisting of a variety of syndromes and symptoms ranging from mild Depression & Anxiety to more severe forms of emotional disorders [3]. Evidence is accumulating that postpartum depression may adversely affect the mother-child relationship and may also have long-term effects on the child if the mother does not receive treatment [6-7].
Postpartum depression is a cluster of symptoms that occur after a woman gives birth; it is a variant of major depression [8,9]. Symptoms include feelings of sadness and/or emptiness, excessive crying, inability to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time, lack of appetite or overeating (especially junk food), lack of concentration and low energy [8,9]. These symptoms can lead to feelings of worthlessness, feelings of being a bad mother, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, little interest in the newborn and obsessive worry over the baby’s health and if left untreated, a new mother can begin to have repeated thoughts of death or suicide, which can occur in any major depressive illness [8,9]. Women suffering from postpartum depression usually manifest symptoms that are much more severe than those of women who suffer from major depressive disorder that is unrelated to the postpartum period [1].
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [10] postpartum depression falls under the classification of postpartum onset specifier for mood episode. It stated that the specifier with Postpartum Onset is typically applied to Major Depressive Disorder, Manic, Mixed Episode, or Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar 1 Disorder, Bipolar 11 Disorder, or Brief Psychotic Disorder, if the onset is within four weeks after childbirth. The symptoms of postpartum-onset Major Depressive, Manic, or Mixed Episode do not differ from the symptoms experienced in non-postpartum mood episodes [10]. Symptoms include labile moods, mood swings and obsessing about the infant’s well-being. This can be so intense that it becomes delusional. There can be ruminating or delusional thoughts about the infant that are fixated on risk or harm to the infant. Postpartum depression is an illness that often goes undetected and is usually obscured by the woman, which may cause her to suffer in silence. This research allowed women to speak openly about their illness without the fear of being judged, as recommended by Beck [11,12] and Beck and Driscoll [1].
The term perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are currently used to describe a more broad range of symptoms that include; depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), panic disorder, psychosis and/or post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). The “baby blues” and “perinatal bereavement” do not fall into this category, as they are normal adjustments. Symptoms of depression are stated above. The symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry or anxiety irritability or short temper, feelings of being overwhelmed, major sleep disturbances; insomnia, or fatigue, disinterest in the baby, feeling inadequate, inability to focus, loss of appetite, or non-psychotic, intrusive, persistent thoughts and/or images of the baby being hurt and/or killed. There can be intense, irrational fears that the baby may be harmed and irrational behaviors to reduce related anxiety (not walking near windows with the baby, hiding knives/scissors, not bathing the baby, not staying alone with the baby). There is a tremendous sense of horror and fear about these thoughts and images with an awareness of their irrational nature (as compared to psychosis, where this awareness is absent). Anxiety does overlap with OCD which can also include intrusive, repetitive and persistent thoughts or mental pictures, thoughts often are about harming the baby or herself, can include excessive counting or checking, or other repetitive behaviors, horror or disgust in herself for having these thoughts and sometimes exhibiting behaviors to reduce the anxiety of these thoughts as stated above [9,13,14]

Citation: Zauderer C (2012) The Lived Experience of Postpartum Depression in Orthodox Jewish Women. J Depress Anxiety 1:112. doi: 10.4172/ 2167-1044.1000112

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