You wanted a baby so much that you waited for many years until you’re finally having one!
Often representing a major source of life fulfillment for women, children bring great joy to the lives of families. But then, you begin worrying about your baby’s health. After several weeks, you’re stressed out and frightened about raising your child although your baby is perfectly happy and healthy.
This article will discuss the common problems of moms-to-be about postpartum depression, and tips on how to overcome this matter.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects some women as they deal with a time of great difficulty and emotional distress. Instead of having pleasure in having a baby and the experience of being a mother, women with this condition have emotional disturbances, anxiety, and depression during their pregnancy and after delivery.
Over the years, countless women are facing this emotional turmoil as negative thoughts like shame and fear overwhelm them. Some thought they were prepared for motherhood yet unexpectedly felt a whirlwind of moods. Others considered themselves to be inadequate as mothers – doubting their own capacity to nurture their children.
Women with anxiety disorders often experience some depression.
There is one proven study that a previous history of an anxiety disorder was a bigger risk factor for postpartum disorders than a previous episode of depression. Approximately 10% of all women experienced a major depression after delivery, and 0.2% of all women became psychotic after delivery. Thus, the difficulty of coping simultaneously with a mood disturbance and a new baby can be overwhelming.
In this condition, depression usually starts from the first weeks after delivery. Sometimes it begins during delivery hours. 10-20% of women who have a baby will experience some form of psychiatric symptoms, like depression. Nowadays, clinicians and researchers are starting to use a new term called perinatal psychiatric disorders.
It’s not very common for all of pregnant women to have, but still it happens to some of them.
Postpartum depression includes a range of problems from mild to severe cases such as postpartum blues, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum psychosis.
Baby Blues – This condition refers to a brief time of temporary sadness or tearfulness, with occasional mood swings, fatigue and irritability that usually lasts only 1-2 weeks after childbirth. It typically doesn’t require any treatment. Crying, confusion, anxiety, and mood lability are much more prominent in this problem.
Depression – A state of major depression in which one’s mood is focused on the feelings of guilt, sadness, lack of confidence, fatigue, and problems in concentration. This condition does not necessarily begin soon after delivery. Sleeping difficulties may be seen in this period.
Anxiety disorders – This condition includes a spectrum of fearful states such as excessive and uncontrollable worry. People with this disorder experience episodes of fear and panic attacks.
Postpartum psychosis – Women experiencing this condition are grossly impaired in their ability to function, usually because of hallucinations or delusions. Some women suffer from affective disorder. It tends to occur in close proximity to childbirth. The new mother may hear voices that are non-existent and may potentially harm herself and the baby.
The Causes of Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Results from a research study confirmed findings of an earlier meta-analysis and, in addition, revealed four new predictors of postpartum depression. These are self-esteem, marital status, socioeconomic status such as poverty, levels of social support, or its perception, nutrition and stress, unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and other biological vulnerability factors.
Another study covered the sociodemographic predictors of antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms among women. It shows that Black and Hispanic mothers had a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms compared with non-Hispanic white mothers. Also, lower income, financial hardship, and higher incidence of poor pregnancy are some factors associated with this condition.
Mostly, teenage girls are more susceptible and are at greater risk of PPD because of financial burden, unwanted pregnancy, and lack of a partner. But the strongest risk factor for PPD was a history of depression, and depressive symptoms during pregnancy.
Furthermore, anxiety and concerns of the mother about her own health and the baby’s are risk factors as well. Lack of emotional support system like from your spouse or your family members is another contributing factor in this mental condition. The mother may feel isolated if her family members are not helpful.
Other factors can be seen in the following:
- Childhood abuse and trauma
- Premature birth
- Previous pregnancy loss
- Partner violence
- Dramatic hormonal changes
- Predisposition to self-criticism
- Genetic predisposition
- Sleep deprivation
- Closely spaced births
Some symptoms of PPD include the following details:
- Feelings of sadness, anxiety, self-doubt and emptiness
- Fatigue, decreased energy, being “slowed-down”
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Insomnia, oversleeping, or waking earlier than usual
- Loss of weight or appetite, or overeating and gaining weight
- Hopeless and pessimistic thoughts
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty in concentrating or decision-making
- Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying
- Chronic aches or pains that is unresponsive to treatment
How to Manage Postpartum Depression
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed when you’re diagnosed with PPD. Your doctor and other health professionals are willing to help you in treating this condition. Before anything else, inform your doctor about your personal concerns and the symptoms you are currently experiencing during or after your childbirth period.
Just don’t blame yourself. And you need to talk with your doctor.
This condition needs treatment with the doctor as you will need to undergo psychotherapy or mental health counselling. You are also prescribed medications to treat your PPD.
Some ways to manage PPD are:
1. Make healthy lifestyle choices such as physical activity, enough rest, balanced meals, and nutritious foods.
2. Self-reflect on your personal goals and set limits to what you can do to avoid stress. Be realistic in your expectation.
3. Invest some time for self-care such as enjoying your favorite hobbies and recreation.
4. Have open and sincere communication with your spouse and other family members.
5. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon, and other oily fish and try taking supplements.
6. Take a vitamin B2 supplement as riboflavin has a positive effect in mood disorder.
7. Try interpersonal therapy and provide time for meditation like free-writing your thoughts in a journal.
Being a mother is a worthwhile experience despite the difficulties and challenges that you might face because having a child is truly a wonderful and indescribable moment. A mother is a living symbol of love, devotion, and sacrifice for the family.
Therefore, when it comes to overcoming postpartum depression, remember that you are not alone. Many women have already passed that ‘finish line’. Be brave and hopeful that things will come into place.