It’s Women’s History Month, so let’s discuss something that about 10 – 20% of new moms will experience and may not understand – Post-Partum Depression (PPD). Also known as post-natal depression, Post-partum depression (PPD) is a form of depression that occurs after childbirth, characterized by strong feelings of sadness, tiredness, and worry.
How does PPD come about?
The cause of PPD is unknown, however, the level of estrogen and progesterone in a pregnant woman’s body is usually very high, and sometimes, the sudden drop to normalcy after childbirth doesn’t leave some women the same. Also, a reduced level of thyroid hormones in the body may lead to depression.
Many new moms experience baby blues – a mild bout of depression that lasts for a few days or weeks after childbirth. It’s characterized by sudden mood swings that can range from euphoria to deep sadness and can last from a few hours to two weeks after delivery. When these feelings of sadness last longer than 2 weeks, PPD may be the case.
Who can PPD affect?
A woman can experience PPD irrespective of her age, status, or support from family, the number of children borne, and regardless of the number of non-complicated pregnancies, she has had. PPD can affect any woman who is pregnant, has had a baby in the past months, had a miscarriage, recently weaned, or is breastfeeding.
Post-Partum Depression, just like every other mental illness doesn’t make you a bad, weak or lazy mother. Your mind and body go through many changes during and after pregnancy, and these changes mean different things for different people and you’re not alone.
There are some signs and symptoms to look out for. They manifest as changes in:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Reduced ability to think clearly, and or concentrate
- Intense irritability and anger
- Severe anxiety and/or panic attacks
Your everyday life
- Loss of appetite or eating way more than usual
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Uncontrolled crying
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Reduced interest in activities you would normally enjoy.
Thoughts towards yourself and your baby
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Fear of not being a good-enough mom
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Here are ways to feel better:
It is advised that you see a doctor. A medical evaluation would be done, and the health care provider might suggest:
- Therapy: Or counseling. Where you can talk to a professional about how you feel generally without holding back or feeling judged and get guidance.
- Support groups: These are groups of people who can share their feelings and experiences about similar topics. Being part of a support group may help you feel better knowing you’re not alone and seeing people who get what you’re going through.
- Medicine: PPD is often treated with medication. E g, Antidepressants, estrogen.
Without over pushing yourself, you can try to:
- Stay healthy and keep fit
- Get some help and support
- Read books that talk about coping with Post-Partum depression
In conclusion, dealing with Post-Partum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, and you’re feeling all these things towards yourself and your baby it doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad mom. Getting help and treatment will get you to see what bundle of joy you’ve brought to the world in time.
Written by: Bertha Agoha