Postpartum Depression, Symptoms, Responsible Factors & Ways to Tackle
Created by Anurima Updated on Jun 21, 2021
When new parents, Mahesh and Maya, brought their 5-day old baby, Mona, home, they were faced with the usual challenges of caring for a newborn. But a few days into motherhood, as she continued to struggle, Maya started getting upset about little things. Mahesh started to notice the change in Maya, too. One day when Maya reacted to Mona’s cries with "I just fed you, what do you want now?", Mahesh took the baby away from her. It was during Mona’s 6-month celebration that Maya broke down to her friend Seema and confessed that she was feeling extremely low. She told her that she had no appetite and that she felt like a terrible mother. Seema coaxed her into consulting her doctor, who diagnosed Maya with postpartum depression. When Maya was shocked, she explained that it is a common ailment that many women tend to ignore.
"I decided to fight this with the support of my family and my doctor. Mona is one-year-old now and I feel great. We do things together and I can’t tell you how happy we are as a family. I discover new things in my daughter every day. I am a happy mother", exclaims Maya.
At a time when medical awareness has improved drastically, and excellent care is available, mental health is still a taboo topic in many homes. Most women are just told to "get a grip" or "deal with it" when they describe postpartum depression symptoms. And the consequences can be dire. Here are some FAQs & their answers on postpartum depression, which might help you, or you can use to help a friend dealing with postpartum depression.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a feeling of being sad, anxious or ‘empty’, which does not go away and interferes with day-to-day activities. It is considered to be an illness involving the brain and like all illnesses, this too needs medical attention.
What Is Postpartum Depression & How Is Different From Depression?
Many new mothers experience ‘baby blues’ soon after childbirth, which could range from feeling overwhelmed, to crying spells or just feeling sad. This feeling usually disappears after a few days or weeks. Some mothers experience a severe form of depression which lingers on for months, and gradually affects her day-to-day activities. This form of depression is known as postpartum depression.
How Will I Know If I Have Postpartum Depression?
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression? It is normal for mothers to feel a range of emotions after delivery. Hormonal changes after childbirth may also trigger symptoms of depression in mothers. The constant feeling of being upset, anxious or frequent mood swings may fade with time. However, if any of the following symptoms last for 2 weeks or more, it will help to speak to your husband, a friend or your doctor. Here are some of the signs of postpartum depression you must watch out for -
- Frequent mood swings
- Feeling sad and overwhelmed
- Loss of appetite and/or sleep
- Lacking energy
- Feeling worthless
- Avoiding friends and family
- Ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea which do not seem to go away
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- No inclination to bond with your baby
Factors Which Could Contribute to Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can show up even months after childbirth. The following causes could increase the chances of a mom feeling depressed -
- A personal history of depression
- Lack of support from immediate family
- Stress from changes in home and work environment
- A colicky baby
- Skewed expectations of being the perfect mom
Will My Depression Affect My Baby?
Depression in mothers makes it to even carry out everyday activities including bonding with the baby. Research has shown that babies of mothers who suffer from depression develop a weak attachment to their mothers and tend to be slower in their growth and development- behavioral, mental and social.
What Can A Mother Do If She Suspects That She Is Heading Towards Depression?
These tips can help in dealing with depression and day-to-day tasks -
- Do not feel guilty or ashamed: Depression can result in guilt because a new mom is "supposed to be happy" with the arrival of her baby. Remember that you are not to blame for your depression. This condition is treatable, and hence it is very important to get the help so that your baby and you do not suffer
- Ask for, and accept, help: It can get very stressful to handle the demands of a newborn while taking care of other tasks. You need rest and good nutrition. Take help from friends, family members when you can. Ask a close friend or relative to watch the baby when you take a power nap. Grab the opportunity if someone can bring you a hot meal
- Take time out, rest and relax: Leave your baby with family or friends and spend some time by yourself doing something you like. Taking time out for yourself regularly will help you relax and allow for a much-needed break
- Eat healthily: A balanced diet is another way to keep those blues away. Omega 3 found in fish and vegetable oils is known to boost the production of serotonin which is a natural anti-depressant found in the human body. Foods high in antioxidants such as papaya, green tea, oranges, broccoli, spinach and pumpkin are also beneficial
- Look forward to small things: Concentrate on doing something which lifts your spirit, such as reading a book or painting. Enjoying your cup of tea will also help relax
- Spend time with friends and family: Spending time with people you love is a great stress-buster
- Confide in your near and dear ones: Talking to a loved one about how you feel will make you feel lighter, and make them aware of your state of mind. Keeping emotions bottled up only leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication
- Seek professional help: It is advisable to speak to your doctor even if you think that your blues are temporary. A professional is the best person to diagnose the severity of your condition and help you deal with it. So without hesitation, speak to your doctor
- Be patient and optimistic: Recognizing the depression is half the battle won! The next step is to know that it will take time for you to feel better. Take each day as it comes, and small steps will go a long way
How Can I Help My Partner or A Friend Who Is Suffering to Postpartum Depression?
A concerned family member, partner or friend can do the following to help a mother suffering from postpartum depression...
- Take her to the doctor
- Check-in here regularly to see how she has been feeling
- Help in any way possible - make a meal, look after her baby while she rests or steps out
- Be patient
- Listen to her when she wants to talk
- Support her in words and action - remind her that this is a temporary phase and soon she will feel better.
- Remind her of happy times and things to be proud of and grateful for. Help lift her spirits.
Mental health is as important as physical wellbeing, and it is extremely important to break the uncomfortable silence that surrounds it. Neglecting mental health can lead to serious & sometimes fatal consequences. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect mother, and you will be the mother your baby needs. Don’t stress yourself with heavy expectations, and be kind to yourself. If you think you have symptoms of postpartum depression, reach out to someone who can help.
Did you experience baby blues or symptoms of postpartum depression? Share your experience in the comments section to help other mama's!
| May 12, 2016
Very good article... it is almost similar to my experience.. initial days after delivering my baby were very difficult... I used to start crying over almost everything.. I was so irritated and angry with everyone all the time and the feeling of motherhood was not there.. but then my husband gave me complete rest for 3 consecutive nights taking care of baby himself made me feel much better and relaxed.. and gradually it improved.. I started enjoying taking care of my baby and the day when he reciprocated my smile I totally fell in love with my baby.. being mother takes time... for me it took over a month.. but once it happens we start enjoying motherhood