Symptoms and Treatment of Postpartum Depression

When giving birth, it is possible to break the strongest bone in the body. Let the body convince me, I can grow and shatter at the same time- Desiree Dallagiacomo

A mother is the world’s most wonderful creation. She is the strongest creation of mankind and this is proved when she gives birth to a child. She sacrifices her body and grows a new life. The process of birth is enough to prove a woman’s significance in society.

After the exhaustive 9 months of pregnancy and hours of labour, a mother’s duty does not end there. Besides taking care of her new born, it is important that the mother takes care of her health for the sake of herself and her child. This includes physical as well as her mental well-being.

Postpartum is the period after the birth of her child. A mother’s body goes through various physical changes and she tends to feel empty or sad. This is called baby blues.

Postpartum depression, on the other hand, lasts longer than just a few days and the mother requires professional help to overcome this feeling.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Postpartum depression is found amongst 15% of new mothers. Although it is normal to feel exhausted and moody after childbirth, postpartum depression has more severe symptoms. A few of them include:

  • Sleepless nights or at times, a lot of sleep
  • Loss of concentration and difficulty in remembering
  • You tend to cry without knowing the reason 
  • You feel anxious, irritable and moody
  • You either don’t eat food at all or eat a lot of food
  • Lose interest in everything
  • You are disconnected with your baby and don’t like spending time with it
  • You feel overwhelmed that you are a terrible mother and do not share your feelings with anyone
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • You tend to dislike yourself and have no hope towards life
  • You withdraw from your friends and family

Treatment for Postpartum Depression 

It is important for a mother to communicate her thoughts and feelings with her doctor so that he/she can help reducing her physical and mental burden. A questionnaire may be handed to the mother or a few tests can be conducted to find if her thyroid levels are contributing to any symptoms.

Postpartum depression is treated as a mental disorder which means that it involves psychological therapy, medications and counselling. In psychotherapy, the councillor makes the mother as well as her partner aware of her plight. Therapy sessions are provided for the mother to feel understood, heard and comfortable.

Some doctors give antidepressants to their patients which involves some risks since the mother is breast feeding. Although there are a few medicines that are not risky for breast feeding mothers, prescribing any antidepressants are avoided by doctors unless it is a severe case.   

Besides therapy and medication, home remedies play a vital role. The physical environment that the new born and the mother reside should be psychologically healthy. The support of her partner, family and friends is important.

At times like this, the mother feels unloved and thinks that her loved ones only care about the baby’s well-being. She should not be made to feel isolated or misunderstood. They should motivate her to lead a healthy lifestyle.

She should be encouraged to practice yoga, go for a walk, attend family gatherings and meet her friends. At the same time, if she is a working mother, she should set realistic goals for herself and not pressurise herself to go out of her way.

If she is a homemaker, the new mother should ask for help from her partner or her family members. She should be transparent about her feelings with them so that they understand and help her out. This contributes to the healthy environment for the child and mother.

The taboos around postpartum depression should be ignored and the mother should instead, spread awareness about what she is mentally going through. When one woman speaks, several are motivated to speak too. This would not only benefit the society, but also make the mother feel better about herself.

In extreme and severe cases of depression, postpartum psychosis is provided to a mother in the hospital. Medication and mood stabilizers can be given to her or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used. 

Short electric currents are passed though the brain to trigger a seizure. This is done only when the symptoms are not responding to the medication.   

Importance of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression should be treated as a serious disorder and not taken for a ride. A mother who has experienced this will agree when I say that many women are unaware about the symptoms and treatment for the same.

They have been told by their parents that it is a normal process after childbirth. However, with the advancement of science, doctors are able to recognise what was considered normal in previous years.

New mothers should see this as their advantage and approach a doctor or mental health professional immediately when they experience an uneasy feeling. You should not be embarrassed or shy about your mental health and talk about it with your family and friends.

You should communicate with your partner about your feelings so that he/she can help you overcome or find a proper diagnosis to the depression. Postpartum depression requires immediate attention of a professional since a lot of times it can also lead to chronic depression which lasts for years.

Written by Jerusha Patel 

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