WHAT EXACTLY IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE
“I always felt like I was being sucked into a pit of guilt. I grew agoraphobic. I was worn out, paranoid, highly stressed, and very emotional. I was labelled as an unfit mother. The erratic solitude, after labor pain, loss of appetite and insomnia began to take a toll on me.
This cloud of sadness had been weighing on me so heavily. The pain struck back every time I thought I was getting better. I was lost in the depths of my depression. I very much knew I needed to be strong for my baby, but I couldn’t. I would have uncontrollable crying episodes because I didn’t know to care for my baby. I felt a disconnection as if I was floating. I felt I was failing as a new mother …That was when it hit me, I had Postpartum depression “
No mother ever thinks she’ll go through postpartum depression until she experiences it. Most mothers don’t even know about it until they start to experience it after childbirth. As if the nine months of pregnancy along with the intense pain associated with childbirth isn’t enough. Post-Partum depression tends to rear its ugly head in some new moms.
Typically, after the first two to five days after childbirth, most moms are liable to experience ‘baby blues’ which is a myriad of emotions consisting of sleepless nights, bouts of endless crying, anxiety and mood swings. However, when a new mom experiences a more severe and long-lasting form of these symptoms, they are known to have Post-Partum Depression.
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?
Simply put, Postpartum Depression (PPD) also known as Postnatal depression is depression occurring after childbirth. Postpartum depression normally occurs after ‘Baby Blues’ which is a least severe and short-lasting form.
The baby blues normally don’t need treatment since they are not severe and can go away on its own. Postpartum depression can occur anytime within the first year after childbirth. Approximately 15% of new mothers experience Postpartum depression. It can affect the mother’s ability to bond with the baby.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION CAN INCLUDE A NUMBER OF SYMPTOMS.
- Crying spells and severe mood swings
- Loss of interest in activities (sex inclusive)
- Fatigue and reduced concentration
- Trouble sleeping and eating
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Having no interest in caring for your baby
Certain factors can also lead to postpartum depression. These include:
- Hormonal changes after childbirth
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Family history of mental illness
- Lack of a strong support system
- Emotional stressors. For example, losing a loved one, financial strain etc.
- Raising a child with special needs
- Lifestyle changes- Getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, finding time to exercise, surrounding yourself with loved ones (family and friends),making time for yourself
- Medications- Antidepressants (some may be contraindicated in breastfeeding mothers since they can pass through breastmilk to the baby. So let your doctor know if you’re breastfeeding), estrogen may be administered to replace the ones lost during pregnancy
- Therapy- Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or joining a support group could be also very helpful.
Postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s okay. You’re not alone and you can overcome this. It’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible once symptoms are discovered. Don’t wait for improvement.
Let others know how they can help you. Be realistic about your expectations for yourself and your baby. Postpartum depression can drive one to commit suicide. Your baby needs you. Your family needs you. Get professional help today.