For many women, delivering a newborn is an amazing, happy, and often problematic time. But for those with post or peripartum depression, it could suddenly become quite stressful and tough. Postpartum depression is a severe but curable medical condition that involves emotions of severe sadness, anxiety, and indifference. It also manifests with changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and energy, and the mother and child may carry mild to moderate risks.
Women can also become sad or depressed while they are pregnant or just right after giving birth, and this is called peripartum depression. Approximately 1 in 7 women reported having experienced peripartum depression.
Pregnancy and the months after having a baby are an especially crucial period for women. Moms frequently complain of emotional, biological, social, and financial changes. Some of them are highly at risk of having mental health conditions, particularly anxiety and depression. This can be a difficult time for the whole family, and each member is affected as the light of the family suffers from these problems.
Undoubtedly, depression that is untreated during and after pregnancy is not only a challenge for the mother’s life but the baby and the entire family as well. Depression can affect the connection between the baby and their mothers, leading to feeding and sleeping problems for the newborn. Eventually, kids with mothers suffering from peripartum depression also become vulnerable to developing verbal, emotional, and cognitive deficits, including abnormal social skills.
Symptoms of Depression
- Extreme feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and worry
- Fatigue and frequent tiredness
- Appetite changes
- Difficulty sleeping or waking up
- Lack of affection or interest in her newborn
- Feeling guilty about being a bad mom.
- Fear of harming herself or her baby
Women who experience depression typically have several of the symptoms listed above, and the level of severity may alter at any time. A woman is diagnosed with peripartum depression, these symptoms must manifest within a month after delivery, although depressive symptoms can happen any time. However, if you or someone you are experiencing the mentioned symptoms for about two weeks, you should call your primary physician. You should also contact him or her if you are having suicidal thoughts, your depression is becoming worse, or if you are having difficulty performing activities of daily living.
Many mothers do not tell their partners or family members when they are struggling with their pregnancy, but it is important to know that treatment for depression in the pregnancy stage and onwards is essential. More awareness and comprehension leads to more improved results for women and their newborns.
Like other forms of depression, postpartum depression can be cured with medications, lifestyle modification, family and group support, psychotherapy, and a combination of these approaches. Pregnant women or those that are nursing must talk about the risks and advantages of taking medications with their obstetricians. Generally, the risk of developing birth abnormalities to the baby in the womb is quite low, and the result must be made based on the possible risks and benefits.
The APA guidelines for managing pregnant mothers with depression suggest psychotherapy without taking medications as the initial treatment, particularly when the depression is mild. For those with moderate to severe anxiety or depression, antidepressants must be considered the first line of treatment, as stated by the APA.
With the appropriate management, most of the new moms are relieved from their depressive symptoms. Those who are being managed for peripartum depression must continue their treatment until instructed by their primary physician to stop treatment. If treatment is abruptly stopped, the symptoms might recur.
Coping With Postpartum Depression
Family and friends’ support and encouragement, exercise, and balanced nutrition can be very helpful tools. Other recommendations for helping these women manage their depression during pregnancy include sufficient rest and relaxation, such as going out with friends or joining recreational classes.
For Family And Friends
Full support from spouses, family, and significant others is very vital. Some suggestions from the National Institute for Health include:
- Be aware of the signs. Family members and close friends must learn to identify the symptoms of anxiety and depression. If you see several of them in your loved one, encourage her to see her physician or a local health care provider right away.
- Be there to listen. Let her feel that you are there for her, ready to listen to her concerns. You can ask her if she has trouble sleeping and what she usually does if she experiences this. Or just ask her how she’s doing. Sometimes it’s the small things we do that mean very much to them.
- Let her know there is help. She might not be comfortable and does not want to ask for help, or she just doesn’t know where to find the help she needs. Let her know that you can go with her to the local health facility to talk to a professional. Learn about postpartum depression and talk to her about it. Offer to schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor. Make her feel that her family loves, supports, and needs her to heal.