About postpartum depression:
When does it occur?
In most common cases, the effects start to manifest in the first three months after childbirth, although it is possible that women may suffer from PPD anytime within the first year of childbirth.
What are the major causes?
Although, the exact cause of PPD isn’t clear, hormonal changes, genetic disposition and stress could be the major contributing factors of PPD.
Who is at risk?
It is possible that women with a personal history of anxiety disorders are more likely to develop PPD. Perhaps the biggest factor is having had PPD in previous pregnancy and not being treated for it.
Postpartum depression in India:
In the Indian context, postpartum depression is quite stigmatic because of the social disposition. Despite the launch of India’s mental health programme in 1982, maternal mental health is still not a prominent component of the programme.
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You may not be experiencing all of the symptoms listed below or even most of them. Postpartum depression is not “one-size-fits-all” illnesses. Your experience may include just a few of the symptoms and you may not have others at all. You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms.
Many people have a feeling like the ones listed below every now and then, for a day or two. We all have bad days. Postpartum depression is not just bad days. Women with PPD have symptoms like these most of the time, for a period of at least 2 weeks or longer, and these symptoms make it feel very hard to live your life each day.
- You feel overwhelmed. You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
- You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
- You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
- You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
- You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
- You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
- You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
- You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
- You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
- You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely messed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
- You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision.
- You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason.
- Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
- You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
- You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
- You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
- You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.
Coping with PPD:
Although, PPD is an illness that might require professional attention, there are few things that you can do on your own to deal with it.
Make time for yourself – It may be helpful to schedule some ‘me-time’ during the week. Every job requires a break; and being a mother is a full-time job, which requires a break from time to time. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you feel overwhelmed with the task of taking care of your baby.
Exercise – Exercising not only keeps your body healthy, it also keeps your mind fresh and active. Some studies suggest that exercising have an antidepressant effect on the body.
Take rest – You may have been told, quite a number of times that you should sleep when the baby sleeps. Sleep is one sure way to rest your mind so that you are more vigilant. Studies suggest that women who got less sleep are more susceptible to depressive symptoms.
Eat healthy – Although eating healthy won’t cure PPD, it will surely make you feel better. A healthy body leads to a healthy and happy mind.
Resist isolation – Sometimes you may sink into depression if you are alone. It is advisable to keep company around you, so that you may be able to talk about how you feel.