Also known as post-natal depression, Post-partum depression (PPD) is a form of depression that occurs after child birth and lasts for a long time. It comes with strong feelings of sadness, tiredness and worry, after having your baby, and they can last for a long time, with an onset within 4 weeks after delivery, so its diagnosis is usually gotten from its onset and the severity of the depression. It mostly affects women, but it actually affects some men.
This sort of depression is several steps further from the ‘baby blues’ some moms get after having a baby.
You’re probably wondering how this works, because baby = joy, right?
We totally understand this confusion, so, get in here, and let’s deal with it together.
PPD is linked to a combination of chemical, emotional, social and physical changes that women experience after childbirth, with varying risk factors, signs and symptoms.
How does Post-Partum Depression come about?
The cause of PPD is unknown, however, the level of oestrogen and progesterone in a pregnant woman’s body is usually very high, and the sudden drop to normalcy after childbirth doesn’t leave some women the same. Also, reduced level of thyroid hormones in the body may lead to depression.
In addition to this, the social and psychological changes that occur after childbirth can increase the risk of depression.
What should you look out for?
The signs and symptoms mostly manifest as: Changes.
In everyday activities:
- Loss of appetite or eating way more than usual
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Depressed mood or severe mood swing
- Excessive crying, Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Reduced ability to think clearly, and or concentrate
- Intense irritability and anger
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
In thoughts towards themselves and the baby:
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Fear of not being a good-enough mom
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Thoughts of harming the baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Although moms are the ones who mostly suffer from PPD, everyone around them can get affected too, including the babies, which is why it is advised that they get help as soon as you can.
How can they feel better?
If they feel more than 3 of the above symptoms, it is advised that they see a doctor. A medical evaluation would be done, and the earlier, the better. The health care provider might suggest
- Counselling: Or Where they can talk to a professional about their concerns, and how they feel generally, all without holding back or feeling judged.
- Support groups: These are groups of people who can share their feelings and experiences about similar topics. Being part of a support group may help them feel better, especially if they admit to feeling alone or like nobody gets what they are going through.
- Medicine: PPD is often treated with medication. E g, Antidepressants, estrogen.
By themselves, they can try, but not over push themselves to:
- Stay healthy and keep fit.
- Ask for and accept help.
- Read books that talk about coping with Post-Partum depression.
- Reduce stressful activities
If you have a history of PPD, depression, or you have a loved one who does, it is advisable to inform the doctor:
- During pregnancy, so that there’ll be monitoring for signs and symptoms of depression. In some cases, antidepressants may be recommended, or therapy — even during pregnancy.
- After your baby is born,the doctor, while monitoring you still, may recommend an early postpartum checkup to screen for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. The earlier it’s detected, the earlier treatment can begin.
As we’ve always encouraged the need to watch out for each other, this isn’t different. We should bear in mind that loved ones with depression may not know that they’re depressed. So, if you suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or just depression, help and encourage them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement.
Finally, PPD isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, and you’re feeling all these things towards yourself and your baby it doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad mom.
Getting help and treatment will get you seeing what bundle of joy you’ve brought to the world, and feeling awesome in no time!