What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a medical illness that affects many women following childbirth. About 10 to 15 percent of moms suffer from this depression that is associated with the aftermath of pregnancy. PPD can last anywhere between few weeks to a year after delivery, but the good part is that it is treatable, if identified at the right time.
The Red Flags For Postpartum Depression
Postnatal depression or PPD is often misjudged or misdiagnosed. You know you have PPD if you experience five or more of the following symptoms nearly every day for at least two weeks:
- Feeling sad and empty
- Being irritable or angry
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest or lack of enjoyment in daily activities and hobbies
- Dramatic change in appetite
No one knows for sure why new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. However, the sharp drop in the estrogen and progesterone levels after delivery can be an attributing factor for PPD. Furthermore, lack of sleep and the resultant tiredness can contribute as well.
While new moms eventually start enjoying motherhood, the initial days may seem to be a testing phase where many women feel confused about their changing identity. Sometimes, the new duties and responsibilities overwhelm them and they cannot figure out how to react. During pregnancy, the entire focus is on the mother to be, but once the baby arrives, the attention shifts to the little one, leaving the new mother feeling ignored and unwanted. This is the time when the support of family and friends really matters.
When Can Postpartum Depression Begin?
PPD usually begins two to three weeks after giving birth, but can start anytime during the first few days, weeks, or months post-delivery.It varies from person to person.
What Can You Do For Postpartum Depression?
Motherhood confers upon a woman the responsibility of raising a child. This whole process can be daunting at times while at other times, it can be extremely rewarding. A new mother always learns and un-learns myriad things along with her baby. In this whole journey, a mother may fall prey to anxiety disorder and depression.
Here are the top 4 tips to win over the battle with stress:
- Communicate – New mothers may find it hard to understand what is happening to their body and mind. But it always helps to talk things over with your spouse, a friend or your mother. Soon, you will see that you are not alone in your journey and that people are there to listen.
- Exercise – A brisk walk, simple breathing techniques or some easy freehand exercise can help you feel fresh. Usher the early morning sun with a big smile to get that much needed Vitamin D dose. This will strengthen your bones and make you feel energetic.
- Socialize –Do not refrain yourself from having an active social life just because you are a mom now. Call up your friends for a brief chit chat session or ask them to come over so that you feel good. Also, develop a hobby or nurture any existing one that you may have to feel rejuvenated.
- Rest and relax –Gift your body and spirit a healthy dose of sleep as and when possible. If your baby sleeps for shorter periods, get someone to babysit while you catch up on your sleep. If insomnia haunts you, try a hot bath, a relaxing body massage or whatever helps you to relax. The idea is to put yourself in the ‘list’ of things and let a little pampering work wonders on you!
What Is Postpartum Anxiety?
Persistent feelings of intense worry or panic cause severe distress among new mothers and prevent them from being normal or perform their daily chores – this is called postpartum anxiety. Various research has shown that about 8.5 percent of postpartum moms have an anxiety disorder.
The most common fears include excess tension about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a feeling of insecurity about the infant, constant fear about the baby’s health etc. Often, the infamous mommy guilt takes over or the fear of being criticized for being a ‘bad’ parent.
Whatever is the situation that triggers the disorder, seeking professional help at the right time is important.
How Is Postpartum Depression Treated?
There are various ways to treat PPD – antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy etc. While these are proven to be effective, the love and understanding of the spouse and other family members helps immensely. New mothers can also practice post-natal yoga to calm the body and the mind. Certain lifestyle changes like taking care of the body, pampering, having an active social life also helps.
Why Is It Important To Seek Treatment?
Treating PPD is of utmost important just like treating any other illness – to get back on track, to lead a normal life, and most importantly, to be a happy mother for a happy baby. The idea is to be aware and ask for professional help when needed rather than sulk in depression. It is important to understand that ignoring the symptoms or shying away from the situation can only worsen it.
Motherhood is a lovely choice that a woman makes along with her partner; it is not worth to waste this wonderful phase of life in the tentacles of depression. The best thing is to face depression head-on, seek help, and move on.