Being a mother is one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences a woman goes through. However, it isn’t always as pleasant as it sounds.
For some mothers, childbirth is followed by sadness, fear, anxiety and anger that puts them at an all-time low which can end up affecting their partners, husbands, family and most importantly, their newborn child.
This complex mix of emotions is not just your regular old baby blues, but something way more serious, a condition called Postnatal depression.
Depression alone can be a crippling experience, now combine it with the stress of trying to raise a child, therefore, it's important to seek help as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed. As your symptoms could last months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby and your family.
Have you ever thought about what causes postnatal depression?
Why at a time when you should be overjoyed, you end up feeling miserable and distant?
Let’s look at the causes of postnatal depression:
1. A history of depression prior to becoming pregnant: If you have been diagnosed with depression before, chances are you can slip into postnatal depression faster than others.
2. Not getting enough support from husband and family: Sometimes, you don’t know how to talk and sometimes you don’t know whom to talk to. There are times when your partner is emotionally unavailable and you find yourself suffering all alone. This might trigger deeper depression.
3. Going through a stressful event like losing a job: There are times when a stressful event, an external stimulus, adds to the depression, anxiety and stress of being a new mother. You are juggling a lot of responsibilities and at the same time, you’re on your road to recovery. It can become highly overwhelming.
4. Prolonged mood swings: If you have had a pregnancy where you’ve had terrible mood swings, because of hormonal fluctuations or non-medical reasons like lack of support and being a single mother with the father not being around, you have a higher chance of slipping into postnatal depression.
5. Having another child: If this is your second pregnancy and the first child needs constant attention, then you might be under additional pressure which can lead to postnatal depression.
While these situations may further increase the stress and burden on a new mother, they might not be the only contributing factors.
A new mother goes through too many changes both physically and mentally. The key is to understand these changes and communicate them at the right time. In order to do that, let’s take you through a list of what you need to watch out for.
Postnatal Depression Symptoms
1. Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is common and called the ‘baby blues’ but it doesn’t last for more than 2 weeks, so if your symptoms last longer or start later, you could have postnatal depression
2. A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
3. Lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
4. Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
5. Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
6. Difficulty bonding with your baby
7. Withdrawing from contact with other people
8. Problems concentrating and making decisions frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
Many women do not realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually. Your road to recovery starts with the understanding that you are not alone. 1 in every 10 women is known to go through postpartum depression. It typically starts around the 4th-week post-birth and can continue for a long period if not treated properly. There is help just around the corner, all you need to do is search for it.
Here are few ways you can go about becoming your happier self and get back on your feet:
1. Discuss these issues with your partner, parents, friends or caretaker.
2. Contact your GP or your midwife as soon as you begin to feel overwhelmed with responsibilities.
3. Get help from a mental health expert and a medical practitioner with proper therapy sessions and prescribed medication. Don’t worry if you’re breastfeeding. There are medicines that are compatible with the situation.
4. Try and take your mind off things. Exercise, go for a long walk, eat good healthy food and work towards getting back into shape.
5. Join a forum and talk it out with others who have been in similar situations. When you listen to stories of other women who have been in your shoes, you know that you are not alone and that gives you unbelievable strength.
6. Lastly, understand that it’s okay and don’t feel guilty for this rush of negative emotions. Ask for help!
There are good days and bad days. Don't lose hope and reach out to the people who are equipped to handle your situation well. Talk it out and concentrate on things that really matter like raising a baby and staying happy and content in the process.
RECOMMENDED PAGES TO READ:
The below pages are highly recommended, if you want to fully understand signs related to postnatal depression.