Getting pregnant and entering motherhood is the happiest moment for any woman and even more exciting is when she gives birth to her young one(s). This is one of the many phases of life where one experiences a jumble of positive, powerful emotions. However, this happiness can be short-lived with the arrival of an unexpected guest: Postpartum depression. This state of mind mostly begins within the first three to four days post-delivery. It can last for a month or, in some cases, even more, impairs the ability of new parents to perform their parenthood duties well.
Additionally, women with major mood changes are found to experience baby blues (right after childbirth) or postpartum psychosis (serious mental illness). Studies have also found that cases exist where mothers and fathers of newborns also undergo postpartum depression, especially single fathers.
Causes and Risk Factors
Although the exact causes of postpartum depressions are yet to be identified, the combinations of the following factors are found to trigger this serious mental condition:
Physical factors: Abrupt changes of hormones pre-and post-birth can lead to depression. Further, other physical factors that may change include inadequate diet patterns, sleep-deprived, drop-in thyroid levels and misuse of the drug(s) and/or alcohol
Emotional factors: One is likely to develop postpartum depression if mood disorders have been a part of their family’s lives. Some common emotional stressors include the loss of a loved one, malfunctioned relationships, withdrawal from society and relationships, little love and support, sometimes even serious health problems either for oneself or the child, and financial struggles and burdens.
Signs and symptoms
Getting moody or feeling fatigued is quite a normal post having a baby. But, sometimes, symptoms experienced can range from mild to severe, which can alter one’s health functions. Although signs displayed and symptoms experienced are hard to detect and can vary from person to person, some of these signs and symptoms involve feeling sad, irritable, angry or cry a lot for some unknown reason, feeling guilty about one’s feelings or even developing ‘I am worthless’ or ‘I am hopeless’ thoughts. It also involves feelings of loneliness and helplessness, sudden mood changes without warning, avoiding or escaping from everything and everyone, reduced interest in most things, even the enjoyable ones, developing intrusive thoughts such as harm the baby or oneself, trouble to remember various things and sometimes developing various unexplained illnesses or aches. Some other symptoms also involve failure to think straight or make simple decisions, feeling exhausted but cannot sleep well, being over conscious of one’s physical appearance and changes in appetite where we may sometimes eat too much or too less
Dealing with Postpartum Depression
Battle isolation: Being enclosed in feelings of seclusion can only feed in depression. So even if you do not have a whirlwind social network, try maintaining connection with those you feel comfortable and lovable with. Fight isolation by joining or re-joining any support club of your interest that will enhance your focus and relieve any hidden depression or stress.
Avoid certain activities: Cut down on any activity you are not up to, such as house chores, running errands etc., instead use your energy to engage in basic needs of taking care of yourself and the baby, if possible, seek the help of others.
Communication is key: Even when tempted to hold your feelings close to you, letting out things going in crazy in you to others you trust can generate a feeling of love and belongingness in you.
Relax and rest: Let’s make sure to give enough rest to your body and engage in relaxation procedures. Some of these methods involve meditation, yoga, or massage to instil positive energy and help ease any tension.
Right food intake: It is always good to maintain a nutrient-rich and balanced diet and the right dietary supplements, which will highly improve the body functioning and make one feel healthy and energetic.
Suppose one still feels things are going off control. In that case, it is better to pay a visit to a doctor at the earliest to get started on the two main effective treatments of postpartum depression, namely:
Therapy: It involves practising self-care or some ‘me time’, which makes one realize the destructive thoughts alive and offers strategies to work them out thoroughly.
Medications: The intake of the right medications and antidepressants upon a doctor’s recommendation will control the hormone levels. It will also reduce any possibly occurring side effects and make one feel better. However, this procedure may not be effective for most.
Let me know what you think and how you deal with postpartum depression.