By Dr Shagufta Kazi
Right from conceiving to giving birth, a woman undergoes a series of hormonal changes in her body. Besides the body changes, a woman experiences many adjustment issues that slowly and steadily slips her into depression.
Pregnancy and childbirth are experiences that are life-changing for women. These processes can trigger a whole lot of intense emotions ranging from joy, excitement, nervousness and anxiety. However, it can also lead to something unsettling – depression. National Institute of Mental Health states that postpartum depression can interfere with normal maternal-infant bonding and adversely affect acute and long-term child development. Perinatal period is one of the most crucial phases in a woman’s life as this is the time a woman is most susceptible to the concerns of mental health.
According to the Centre For Disease Control (CDC), a lot of new moms experience postpartum depression, symptoms of which are of two types – emotional and behavioural.
Emotional symptoms may include persistent sadness, anxiousness, severe mood swings, anger, irritability, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, numbness, exhaustion, trouble bonding with the baby, thoughts of self-harm and even
On the other hand, behavioural symptoms may include lack of interest in usual activities, low libido, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, poor self-care and insomnia.
The symptoms typically begin within two weeks to a month after delivery and may last for several months or a year and in rare cases, they can be severe and long lasting.
A major study provides new evidence that emergency c section put new mothers at greater risk of experiencing mental health problems after giving birth. A new study has revealed first time mothers who give birth via unplanned c section are 15% more likely to experience post natal depression. Most new mothers experience post natal-“baby blues”. Recent evidence also suggests that women with difficulty Breastfeeding may be risk of PPD. Women who had negative feelings about Breastfeeding and reported severe pain while nursing soon after birth were more likely to experience PPD at 2months. There is no denying that a mother’s mental health is crucial not just to her, but also to her baby. A depressed or anxious mom, however may not be able to provide the nurturing that her baby needs to grow and thrive. She is less likely to read, cuddle with , and interacts with her baby- putting negative health outcomes such as. Failure to thrive, delayed development, sleep difficulties, behavioural and emotional problems, learning problems. Note that these symptoms sometimes take years to show up.
It is important to remember post partum depression is complication of giving birth and if you have the symptoms, seeing prompt treatment can help you manage the depression and even help you bond with your baby. PPD is treated much like any other depression. Support, counselling or therapy and prescription medicines like antidepressants if needed or in some cases combination of both. Most antidepressants are safe for Breastfeeding.
The most important thing is to find someone to talk to and tell them about your feelings. A support system will help you find peace. While it is understandable that newborn requires attention at all times. I also suggest mothers, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, they should try reading, exercising, walking is a great for health and 15-20 minutes of walking is easy and refreshing or meditating. Sometimes, I also advise mothers to journal their emotions and feelings as it helps let out their frustrations. And every week, look back at your journal to see how much better you are doing now.
The most effective way to diagnose and treat PPD is by visiting your doctor. They can evaluate your symptoms and devise the best treatment plan for you. You may benefit from psychotherapy, antidepressants, or some combination of both. There are also things you can do at home to help cope with everyday life. Keep reading for more on how to deal with PPD. Maintain a healthy diet. Make time to sleep You’ve probably been told to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” This advice may get annoying after a while, but it’s rooted in science. A 2009 report details how women who got the least sleep also experienced the most depressive symptoms , avoid isolation … PPD is treatable. Many women see their symptoms improve in six months. Call your doctor immediately if you feel disoriented or confused, have obsessive thoughts about your baby, feel paranoid, or experience hallucinations. These are signs of a more severe condition called postpartum psychosis.
Dr Shagufta Kazi works in health sector and is also treating patients on Sundays at Cure and Care clinic Hyderpora BYPASS SRINAGAR