Postpartum Depression

Imagine this hypothetical situation. You’ve just started a new job in an important role. You quickly discovery that your work are long and demanding, knowing that sleep deprivation is inevitable and you fear you wont’ be productive. Soon you grow tired, and begin to have those feelings hopeless about ever meeting all your responsibilities. Your work then begins to drop off and your attendance in the office is failing due to the lack of sleep and your constant stress and worry.

For many women, they can relate to this when a new baby arrives and in approximately 10% of mom’s with newborns, Postpartum Depression is a new reality. PPD, also known as Postnatal Depression (PND), is a type of depression that affects some women after having a baby. Typically, it develops within four to six weeks after giving birth, but can sometimes take several months to appear. If you’re among the 10%, you may think this is normal and not know you’re depressed. You might think you feel the way all new moms do. Being tired out or fatigues is normal when a newbor arrives, but feelings of extreme sadness or hopelessness is not.

Some interesting statistics about PND:

• PPD is considered a subtype of major depression
• Usually there is no clear cause of the depression
• PPD affects approximately 1 in 7 new mothers
• PPD normally appears 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth
• Symptoms include feeling trapped, overwhelmed, a loss of appetite and reduced libido
• A significant proportion of mothers with postpartum depression do not tell people how they feel
• PPD appears to be more prevalent in urban areas
• And an estimated 10% of fathers also experience PPD

Here are 4 early signs you may be struggling with Postpartum Depression:

1. Feeling the occasional upset from time to time is normal, but if guilt or sadness consume you, that is not. Many women have reported being unhappy about even being a parent, feel unworthy or wish they didn’t have the child, with long spells of emotions and crying. These are the first signs of postpartum depression.

2. The  “baby blues” just keeps going and never improves. Having a dip in mood during your baby’s first 14 days is normal but then you should return to normal.   If these feeling keep growing more intense, that’s more than just being down.

3. Loss of interest in activities that bring you joy. Have you lost interest in affection from your partner? Has your favorite foods become dull or are you eating less? Are you no longer laughing at your favorite comedy or show?

4. Making decisions paralyzes you. Often too tired to make decisions, you stay neutral and avoid the outcome of all decisions. If you’re struggling do the smallest of things like getting out of bed, bathing or caring for your baby, these indicate early signs.

Additional symptoms that occur:

• A feeling of being overwhelmed, trapped or that it is impossible to cope
• A low mood that lasts for longer than a week or two
• Crying a lot
• Headaches, stomachaches, blurred vision – signs of tension
• Loss of libido
• Panic attacks
• Feelings of inadequacy
• Unexplained lack of interest in the new baby
• Lack of desire to meet up or stay in touch with friends.

Treatment of postpartum depression

The mother’s most important step on the road to treatment and recovery is to acknowledge the problem. Family, partner and close friends’ support can have a major impact on a faster recovery. Experts say it is better for the mother to express how she feels to people she can trust, rather than bottling everything up inside. There is a risk partners and sometimes other loved ones may feel shut out, which can complicate things. Self-help groups are useful because not only will the mother have access to useful data, she will also meet other mothers who share similar problems and symptoms. This may help her feel less isolated.

Antidepressants may take a few weeks. According to the NHS, between 50% and 70% of patients respond well to antidepressants within a few weeks. Studies have found that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has a success rate of between 50% to 70% for patients with moderate postpartum depression ~ a similar rate to medication.

Breastfeeding, apart from its nutritional benefits for the baby, also helps mother and child bond, and can boost the confidence in being a good mother.

Further prevention and assistance:

1. Stay physically fit – get regular exercise daily.

2. Follow a well balanced, healthy diet- Eat frequently, don’t let your blood glucose levels drop too much by not eating for long periods. Consume more Omega-3 fatty acids – studies have shown links between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains.

3. Be open – talk to close friends, partners, and family members about how you feel and/or get in touch with local help groups

4. Make lists – organize yourself so you are not rushing around and becoming frustrated at not achieving much.

Most importantly, remember, it’s not your fault and it can be properly treated.

If you or your loved one is suffering from PPD, please reach out to: 

To your good mental health,

~Noel McDermott

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