Have you ever heard the term ‘baby blues?’ its quite commonly used for mothers of newborns as feelings of sadness, worry, and concern can suddenly occur after giving birth. Postnatal depression is when mothers start to feel depressed and helpless about their situation.

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Postnatal depression is just as serious as regular depression and needs general awareness to increase and to have the mental condition treated with appropriately. It’s important for all women experiencing postnatal depression to know that they are not alone and that help is available.

What is Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal Depression

Similar to the baby blues, postnatal depression also gives you feelings of sadness, grief, loneliness, and general confusion or lack of motivation, however on a more severe and worse state than the general baby blues.

Postnatal depression is most occurrent within the first week or two following childbirth and effect 10-15 women for every 100 over the world. Postnatal depression is considered a mental disorder and can lead to other mental health problems if not addressed appropriately. 

Symptoms

Postnatal Depression

Feeling tired, moody, stressed, and exhausted are all normal experiences women go through after giving birth. This makes it hard to identify whether postnatal depression has occurred and to what intensity as symptoms are relatively normal and does depend on each person.

Postnatal depression can be present if the person demonstrates any of the below feelings or behaviours:

  • Excessive crying and not being able to identify a cause or reason
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty making a connection to your child
  • A desire to remove yourself from others
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling guilty over your inability to connect with your child
  • Difficulty sleeping despite feeling tired or exhausted
  • Sleeping for longer than you should
  • Not wanting to eat or eating too much
  • Experiencing aches and pains in joints and muscles
  • Having mood swings and becoming very irritable
  • Having a general lack of control of emotional wellbeing
  • Difficulty remembering or recalling things
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lesser or no interest in things that use to interest you
  • Thoughts of self-harm or harm to your baby

Causes

Postnatal Depression

The cause as to why women may develop postnatal depression does not have a clear answer as of yet, however, certain factors can contribute to it. Physical and emotional factors can usually be some of the causes as to why postnatal depression may develop.

Physical factors include:

  • Poor dieting
  • Poor sleep during and after pregnancy
  • Drug misuse
  • Low thyroid hormone levels
  • Underlying medical condition

Emotional factors include:

  • Social isolation
  • Financial stress
  • The loss of a loved one
  • You or your child having health issues
  • Lack of social support
  • An existing mental disorder

Treatments

Postnatal Depression

Like regular depression, there are many types of treatments you can seek out. Although postnatal depression is a real mental disorder, it can be overcome through various and simultaneous methods of treatment.

The two main types of treatments for postnatal depression are medication and therapy. Depending on your health, both can effectively be used together.

  • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe you with an oral medication that works as an antidepressant for your brain. They can alter the chemicals in your brain to regulate your mood and help you feel emotionally stable. Along with therapy, taking on the medication for a couple of weeks can help to gradually improve your mental condition in the hope you no longer feel depressed. Do keep in mind that medication may pose side effects such as dizziness, decreased motivation or may worsen your symptoms. 
  • Therapy – Seeking the aid of a psychiatrist, psychologist or professional mental health counsellor, therapy can alleviate many of the symptoms you may be experiencing. Therapy will also give you a chance to open up about your feelings and develop strategies as to how you can overcome your condition. 

It’s important to seek out help and open up about your condition, and not taking matters into your own hands. As with all people with depression, unclear thinking can lead to detrimental consequences. This is why it’s important to reach out to a loved one or a professional for support. 

Tips to Deal With Someone Who May Have Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Depression

If you are the partner, or a close friend or even family of someone who you suspect to have postnatal depression, try your best to be supportive and help them out of their mental condition with the following tips:

  • Communicate – Try to get them to open up to you. Although it can be very difficult at times, especially in the beginning, simply being open to them and supportive around them, is enough to show them that somebody cares and that they are not alone.
  • Fight the Isolation – Try to engage in activities and show them that they are not socially inept, nor do they have to be. Trying to remove the barrier of isolation using your friendship and care.
  • Provide Healthy Eating Options Around The Home – Cooking nice meals for them may also increase lost appetite and bring them up to healthy dietary habits.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.