Becoming a mother is an amazing natural phenomenon and is a great journey full of emotional and psychological changes.
Some mothers suffer from PND after birth and find the post natal period quite uncomfortable.
PND or post natal depression is defined as the depression experienced by new mothers few weeks after the birth of the baby. It is different from baby blues, a condition which initiates few days after baby’s birth. The affected moms start feeling sad, worried and miserable about themselves or about their tiny baby. The changing hormone level in the mother’s blood is believed to be responsible for baby’s blues.
Baby blues makes a mother feel weepy, moody, exhausted and worried within few days after giving birth and usually this sad phase passes on its own whereas PND is a disease that does not recuperates on its own without any intervention.
Common Symptoms of PND (Post Natal Depression)-
Here is a gist of some commonly seen symptoms of PND-
The mother might feel:
- Miserable particularly in the mornings and evenings
- Life as futile and worthless
- Guilty and blames herself for trivial things
- Annoying and irritable
- Tearful every now and then
- Too tired and drained out
- Disinterested in everything
- Difficult in coping with life’s routine activities
- Disinterested in sex
- Loss of energy in performing daily activities
- Intense mood swings
- Difficulty in concentrating on things
- Worried both about her health and the health and wellness of the baby
- Inability to make decision
- Inability to sleep properly
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in recollecting and memorizing things
If you face any of the above symptoms, immediately consult your gynaecologist and psychiatrist.
It is seen that women under following circumstances are more vulnerable to developing post natal depression.
- If the women is fighting with depression during pregnancy
- If the women had a difficult pregnancy
- If she has a previous history of post natal depression in pats deliveries
- If the woman’s mother passed away in her childhood
- If the woman’s husband is not loving or caring
- If the new born baby’s is premature or ill
- If she is not having a happy marriage
- If she had a difficult caesarean or painful labor
- If there is difficulty in breast feeding
- If the baby is crying most of the time and the mother has to carry baby all the time
- If she has given birth to a girl child and there is surmounting pressure of having baby boy
- If there are serious financial problems
Common Risk factors of post natal depression-
Here are some common predisposing risk factors of PND.
- Birth-related physiological trauma
- Elevated prolactin levels
- Birth-related psychological trauma
- Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
- Low self-esteem
- Cigarette smoking
- Prenatal depression during pregnancy
- Childcare stress
- A history of depression
- Oxytocin depletion
- Prenatal anxiety
- Life stress
- Maternity blues
- Single marital status
- Poor marital relationship
- Low social support
- Low socioeconomic status
- Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
- Evolutionary psychology
Treatment of Post Natal Depression-
Post natal depression can be effectively treated by proper medication and adequate psychotherapy. Seek the advice of your doctor as soon as you recognize the problem.
Anti-depressant drugs-Post natal depression can be cured by anti-depressant drugs. Some feel that these drugs are addictive which is not true at all.
Most of the patients feel hesitant in taking these drugs hence fail in improving their depression.
If your doctor advices you anti-depressant drugs, make sure you take them properly and do not discontinue until your doctor advices you to do so.
Take healthy diet-diet is very important for keeping yourself and the baby fit and healthy. Take small frequent meals and drink lot of fluids. You should eat a lot of fibre and carbohydrates like pasta, chapattis, bread, etc. Green vegetables and fruits should be an integral part of your daily diet. You can take a bar of chocolate to lift up your mood but not too often. Avoid eating a lot of snacks and junk food.
Sufficient rest-sleep is also essential for keeping you calm and composed so make sure you sleep for at least 8-10 hours a day. Whenever your tiny toddler is sleeping, do not hesitate to snuggle and rejuvenate yourself.
Light exercises– light exercise like walking is recommended as lack of exercise will make you obese. You can do some light stretching exercises as it will help you remain active and agile.
Get social support system-you can talk to your friends or neighbours because this will help you spend some light moments. This will also help you build a positive attitude towards life.
Contact Help Groups : A health group volunteer can help you get rid of all your fears and apprehensions regarding baby’s health, breast feeding, etc.
Women affected with postnatal depression are found to be having poor coping abilities and are inconsistent about child care. These problems result in rising negativity in mother’s mood and adversely affect her day-to-day behaviour.
Gist of Treatment-
To summarize it can be said that the treatment of post natal depression involves medical evaluation ruling out physiological issues, possible medication, healthy diet, support groups, cognitive behavioural therapy and home visits/home visitors.