If you see a new mother, getting frustrated at little things and showcasing extreme emotions, she might be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD). Known as ‘baby blues’, this state of mind is common among new mothers postpartum or post-delivery. It is not a great feeling and most women feel a ton of guilt for going through it.
All new mothers are expected to be over the moon the minute their bundle of joy arrives. And though this is the truth, you can’t ignore the feeling of anxiety of caring for a newborn and the endless changes it brings to your life. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and depressed. But there are ways you can combat post-pregnancy depression.
Did You Know?
Depression is the most common complication postpartum, affecting 10%–15% of women, contributing greatly to maternal mortality and morbidity in India.
15 Postpartum Depression Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
It’s vital to learn the signs of postpartum depression before you find solutions. Although it’s normal to have mood swings or feel fatigued after having a baby, postpartum depression is a lot more than that. Here are the most common postpartum depression symptoms.
- A low mood that lasts for longer than a week
- Crying without reason for long periods of time
- Avoiding family and friends
- Trouble feeding the baby or bonding
- Feeling overwhelmed or trapped
- Unable to sleep even when exhausted
- Sensation of not being a good mother or guilt
- Extreme change in appetite
- Consistent anxiety or panic attacks
- Difficulty remembering things and concentrating
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Lack of interest in daily tasks or otherwise favourite activities
- Unexplained lack of interest in the baby
- Unnatural loss of libido
- Intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or the baby
10 Major Causes Of Post-Pregnancy Depression
While the list of postpartum depression symptoms is long, the causes are still being debated. It is a result of multiple factors but the exact causes are yet unknown. Postpartum depression is usually caused by emotional, stressful events, a biological change like pregnancy triggering an imbalance of brain chemicals, or both. These are some of the postpartum depression causes and factors that can trigger postpartum mental health issues.
- The physical changes during pregnancy and childbirth
- Anxiety about the baby or parenting responsibilities
- Complicated or difficult labour and delivery
- Lack of family support and relationship changes
- Financial troubles
- Loneliness or lack of family and friends to offer support
- Medical issues like urinary incontinence, anaemia, blood pressure changes and alterations in metabolism.
- Fatigue and altered sleep cycle
- Hormonal imbalance like a sudden and severe drop in estrogen and progesterone levels following birth
- History of mental health problems
Remedies For Post Pregnancy Depression
Postpartum mental health issues need to be addressed timely and in a sensitive manner. The first step is to consult your Ob/Gyn. Next is to have a conversation with your partner and family about it.
If your Ob/Gyn refers you to a Psychiatrist, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants. Newer atypical antidepressants like Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor) target several neurotransmitters in the brain.
The doctor might prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the most commonly used antidepressants. These medicines affect serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood and generally have fewer side effects than others. Antidepressants often take several weeks to start working and have some side effects, so it is vital to stay patient.
Studies have found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be successful in moderate cases of PPD.
To treat postpartum depression, many mental health experts suggest psychotherapy or talk therapy. Such therapy can be suggested with or without antidepressants.
Cognitive therapy is based on the principle that thoughts can trigger depression. The new mother is taught how to better manage the relationship between her thoughts and state of mind. It is aimed to alter the thought patterns so that they become more optimistic.
Women diagnosed with postpartum mental health issues are motivated to further their bonds with their partners, family and friends. Many are encouraged to join group therapy to connect with mothers who are experiencing something similar.
How To Deal With Postpartum Depression?
It is important that you understand that treating postpartum depression takes time. Medical treatments are vital and alternate options like hormone therapy might work for you. But the most important factor to consider is dealing with it on an emotional level.
5 Positive Ways To Deal With Post-Pregnancy Depression On An Emotional Level
Many new mothers end up sitting at home for months at a stretch, caring for their newborn. And some Indian cultural norms state that a new mother shouldn’t leave her home for at least 40 days. With such a cultural burden and the immense changes happening, it is bound to affect you mentally, physically and emotionally.
One simple solution is to keep in touch with family and friends. Go out for a walk, even if it lasts only 15 minutes. Hire domestic help or even a nanny to help you with the baby. Consider joining a support group for moms. Reach out for help instead of doing everything on your own.
With having delivered a baby, exercising might be the last thing on your mind. But this activity not only helps you achieve physical stability but also lifts your spirit. Once you’ve recovered physically from giving birth, try to get some exercise every day.
Try some light warm-up exercises and set up a simple workout routine. Download a fitness app to customise your workout regime according to your schedule. You can even hire a fitness trainer to help you build your own unique routine that’s best suited for post-delivery.
3. Rest & Relax
Sleep is necessary for your body and mind. Split your baby’s nightly routine with your partner or a family member. Try to get as much uninterrupted sleep as possible. If you have trouble falling asleep, take a warm bath or read a good book.
Another important tip is to give up all other chores. You can focus on your and your baby’s needs and tend to that. Let the domestic help step in and take over the cleaning duties. Allot errands to family and friends. At such a sensitive time, you will find a lot of people willing to help if you ask for it.
4. Nurture & Bond
While movies may show mothers hugging their newborns and weeping with joy, the reality can be a little different. The process of attachment, the emotional bonding between a mother and child, can be difficult at first. But, it is an important step.
Postpartum depression can interrupt this process of the mother responding to the baby’s physical and emotional needs. Spend some alone time with your child and the connection will blossom. Another way to do that is to see your partner and family members bonding with the baby. Remember, bonding with your baby not only benefits the child but also you by releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more confident as a mom.
5. Help Yourself
A number of women fear the inevitable changes that a baby brings to her world. It is absolutely okay to feel that you might lose your sense of self. Don’t let the guilt overwhelm you, for this is a natural reaction.
What you can do to resolve it is keep the pre-pregnancy part of your life well alive. If you love gardening or painting, resume the activity once your body permits. Once you heal physically, go for brunch with your girlfriends and enjoy a healthy sex life with your partner.
Motherhood means welcoming a bundle of joy into your home and heart. It does not mean you have to give up everything from your past or alter your life drastically. You simply have to merge the old with the new. And the bond blossoms with confidence!