How to overcome post-partum depression?

Comment surmonter la dépression post-partum ?

Post-partum depression is a phenomenon that affects many young mothers after the arrival of their child. In this article, you'll find out everything you need to know about this disorder, so you can support your loved ones or overcome post-partum depression yourself.

Definition of post-partum depression

Post-partum depression is characterized by depression after childbirth. It is estimated to affect between 10% and 20% of women after the birth of their baby. Fathers can also be affected by this type of depression, although it is more common in women. It can be triggered up to 1 year after the birth of the newborn. But the incidence of post-natal depression is highest in the 3 months following childbirth. It's a condition that needs to be treated.

What are the symptoms of post-partum depression?

Symptoms may at first be mistaken for severe fatigue. There are several symptoms:

  • Extreme sadness for no reason;
  • Exhaustion and sleep disorders;
  • heightened sensitivity with unexplained crying;
  • Excessive guilt or low self-esteem;
  • Anxiety and anguish (often concern for the child's well-being, etc.);
  • Lack of pleasure in caring for your child;
  • Isolation;
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed;
  • Changes in eating habits;
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Some young mothers (or fathers) are unaware of these symptoms, or ignore them. Finally, some don't dare talk about it for fear of what their loved ones will think.

How can depression be distinguished from other post-natal mental disorders?

Post-partum depression is not the only disorder you may experience following childbirth.

Baby blues

Baby blues are a normal phenomenon that many mothers experience following childbirth. It occurs in the first week post-partum, a few days after the birth. Symptoms of baby blues include irritability, anxiety, susceptibility, moodiness and generally high emotionality.

Unlike post-partum depression, it lasts only a few days. The cause is also quite different. In fact, it's the drop in hormones following childbirth that creates these wobbly emotions and thus baby blues. If these symptoms last longer than two weeks, it could be post-partum depression. Consult your healthcare professional. It's very important to be accompanied.

Puerperal psychosis

Estimates suggest that one woman in 1,000 suffers from puerperal psychosis. So what is puerperal psychosis? Puerperal psychosis is a serious psychiatric pathology that most often manifests itself within a few days of childbirth, although it can be present as early as the beginning of pregnancy. It is the most severe form of post-partum depression. The psychic symptoms of this condition appear in three stages:

  • The first is extreme fatigue;
  • The second is confusion;
  • The third phase is delirium.

During the fatigue phase, it is very common to confuse fatigue with the very common baby blues.

The risks of puerperal psychosis are more or less serious, but in the worst cases it can lead to suicide or infanticide.

What are the potential causes of post-partum depression?

The arrival of a baby is a major upheaval for parents and young mothers. The upheaval of daily life and habits is the primary cause of post-partum depression. But physiological causes such as hormonal changes and exhaustion can also lead to it. Finally, the mother's own feelings of being overwhelmed, lost , etc., can lead to post-partum depression.

For some women, becoming a mother can lead to a reorganization of their identity (especially in the case of a first pregnancy), as they have to take on a new role: that of mother. It's important to remember that motherhood (contrary to what many would have us believe) is not something innate; it's something to be learned, and every (new) mother experiences it differently.

Some women already prone to certain psychological disorders (depression, mental illness or anxiety ) are more prone to developing post-partum depression.

What impact does post-partum depression have on the family?

It has many and varied consequences.

With your child

According to an English study conducted by the University of Kent, post-partum depression has a negative impact on the mother-child relationship. In fact, the study concludes that women who have suffered post-partum depression have poorer relationships with their children.

In the most severe cases of puerperal psychosis, there may be consequences for the mother-child relationship. They may behave dangerously towards their child, or deny the bond between themselves and their child.

In the couple's life

The arrival of a newborn can be a time of upheaval for couples. So when post-partum depression is added to the mix, it can be even more complicated. If you think you're suffering from it, talk it over with your partner and get professional help.

In general, it can have an impact on family life. A complicated relationship can also be a risk factor.

How is post-natal depression treated?

Women are often expected to feel a wave of happiness when their baby arrives. But this is not always the case. Some women don't dare to talk about their feelings and their discomfort. It's very important to talk if you're experiencing psychological difficulties in your postpartum period, if you're feeling lost or unhappy. There's nothing to be ashamed of.

Talk to your GP about all the options available to you.

  • Psychological therapy;
  • Antidepressants if depression is diagnosed.

Our tips for preventing post-partum depression!

Fortunately, suffering from this condition is not inevitable. There are ways for expectant mothers to prevent it.

Get some rest

Fatigue is a factor that increases the risk of developing post-partum depression. To avoid this, rest is essential.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

In addition to a good night's sleep, it's advisable to adopt a healthy lifestyle, i.e. a good diet and gentle physical activity if you can.

In any case, if you have a history of mental disorders or depression before becoming pregnant, it's best to talk to your doctor. This will make it easier to monitor you during and after your pregnancy.

What about post-partum depression in fathers?

Fathers can be affected too. But the symptoms are not as visible as those of women. Fathers tend to show their distress through irritation, anger, anxiety and the use of substances such as alcohol or drugs. It affects around 8% of fathers.

FAQs on post-partum depression

When does post-partum depression begin?

It can occur at any time during the first year after childbirth. It can occur in the days following delivery, or much later. It differs from baby blues, which last 1 or 2 weeks at most.

What is the average duration of post-natal depression?

It's estimated that post-partum depression can last up to 3 years after the first symptoms appear. Of course, every woman is different: some will experience depression for a much shorter time. The important thing is to talk about it and seek help.

Why do couples separate after childbirth?

The arrival of a new baby is a major upheaval in a parent's personal life. Naturally, it can upset a couple's equilibrium, as both people have to take on a new role as parents. Of course, this is not the case for all couples. If you're having trouble, consult a professional.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.