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Peripartum Depression (formerly Postpartum) in young parents …

Postpartum Depression, now known as Peripartum Depression, recognises that this depression generally starts during pregnancy and continues post the childbirth. 

Data suggest 1 in 7 new mothers and 1 in 10 men can go through PPD. Call it by any name, Peripartum Depression or Postpartum Depression, it is a medical condition and not a weakness of character.

Nine months of trials and tribulations, moments of happiness and excitement, of anxiety and relief, of eagerness and fast heartbeats have finally culminated in the beautiful bundle of joy who now plays in your arms. With your baby, there has also been the birth of a mother in you- an experience which every woman on this earth crave to go through at least once in a lifetime. 

But what is this? Are you left questioning yourself as to “Why am I feeling upset for no reasons?” or “What has happened to me, why am I not aroused? You have your little angel in your lap, the day that you have been waiting for so eagerly and yet your mind seems to go all topsy-turvy. If you are going through all these emotions, you are probably undergoing what is known as postpartum depression. 

What is Postpartum Depression – A Scientific view…

Postpartum Depression scientifically refers to a type of mental illness or severe form of depression that strikes some women around birth. It embraces a number of emotional, behavioral as well as physical transformations witnessed within 4 weeks of delivery and may have serious repercussions. 

While it is normal to have baby blues, PPD happens due to chemical changes that lead to sudden plummeting of hormonal levels after a formidable increase in the pre-natal stage.

Moreover, the arrival of the baby brings about an overwhelming social and psychological change, especially with first time mothers or those who are not quite ready for the new change in life.

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

“I can’t take care of my baby and feel too tired, I am not a good mother.”

“I don’t feel like going out, spending time with my husband or even getting close to him.”

Bouts of mood swings, excessive crying for no reason, spending sleepless nights and loss of appetite, intense irritation and panic attacks, indecisiveness and even recurring thoughts of committing suicides are some of the common symptoms of Postpartum Depression. If left undiagnosed and untreated Postpartum Depression may turn even more severe and may last for several months. You may feel cranky all the time, show disinterest towards your newly born and lose the desire of indulging in pleasurable activities that you used to enjoy before pregnancy. 

Very rarely, Postpartum Depression can also lead to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder wherein the mothers feel excessively obsessed with their babies and have irrational fears that the baby would be harmed somehow. You may also end up having frequent panic attacks which in turn is termed as panic disorder. 

What causes Peripartum Depression ? 

Apart from the above chemical, social and behavioral causes, Postpartum Depression can also be caused due to the following reasons…

1/6. Age at the time of conception.

2/6. Past history of depression, panic attacks and anxiety disorders.

3/6. Coming from a family with history of mood disorders or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.

4/6. Giving birth to twins or triplets that cause greater anxiety.

5/6. Limited support in handling household and babies.

6/6. Marital conflict.

Postpartum Depression in its extreme form is termed as Postpartum Psychosis that needs immediate treatment. This includes hallucinations, confusions, delusions, urge to harm yourself or your baby, paranoid behavior, excess agitation and disturbed sleep patterns.

When should I visit the Doctor?

If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of Postpartum depression that goes beyond 2 or 3 weeks or psychosis you should get an appointment with a professional immediately. If you feel your depressed mood is affecting your bond with your little one and preventing you from taking care of him or her or even making it difficult for you cope with your everyday tasks, you should seek help without delay.

What are the treatments of Postpartum Depression?

Depending on how severe the level of depression is, Postpartum Depression can be treated in myriad ways ranging from psychotherapy and anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications to support group methods. 

The support groups proffer education and social support that help ameliorate the symptoms of depression. If you are worried about the fact that you are breastfeeding, you can talk to your doctor regarding the prescribed medication, which for most cases, are safe to consume during feeding your baby. For extreme cases of depression wherein you feel like harming your baby or undergo suicidal tendencies, immediately contact a suicide hotline or confide in a close friend or family member. 

Can I avoid Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is spontaneous and generally cannot be avoided or prevented. However, you can alleviate the symptoms if you know of any cases of the same in your family history or if you have ever had bouts of depression yourself. Consult your doctor during your pregnancy about your worry and inculcate a healthy lifestyle. Embrace a good diet, movement and meditative practices for stress reduction. 

Tips to Cope with Postpartum Depression

Going through postpartum blues? Do not feel you are alone or you have gone all muddled up there in your head. Here are some tips to help you overcome depression post childbirth.

1/4. Confide in someone whom you are close to.

2/4. Get a robust support network who can help you with your household so that you can have your desired rest

3/4. Indulge in small things that give you pleasure like reading, gardening, writing, light exercising and meditating

4/4. Make your bag of emotions and write down all the mixed feelings that you are going through every day. This will help you to vent out your pent up emotions and frustrations and make you feel lighter.

Take it easy. You needn’t prove yourself a supermom. It’s only when you take care of your physical and mental health, will you be able to look after your little ones. So just relax and enjoy your motherhood. Seek help when needed…

Men too go through PPD…

A recent research has pointed at 1 in 10 men going through the same symptoms of Postpartum Depression. The plausible reasons for why men can also feel PPD…

1/5. Feeling of being a ‘Third Wheel’

Most men are used to being the focus of their partners’ attention whereas when a new birth happens, some men tend to feel their importance diminishing. I have seen some to complain of being a ‘third wheel’ in the relationship. This can trigger PPD in Men.

2/5. Feeling the Provider Pressure

Even though realities are shifting, some men feel the Provider pressure… A new father can feel intense pressure to provide for his new addition, which can ramp up stress around finances and career.

3/5. Guilt of not feeling super elated

Almost half of young mothers feel the ‘blues’ after giving birth, yet it was never a topic to be discussed. Fortunately, science and society is opening up to this feeling of ‘blues’ and ‘postpartum depression’ in women. 

A few of the young fathers I have spoken to express a sense of ‘not feeling the elation’ yet and that guilts them into feeling a horrible sense of guilt, whereas it is absolutely normal to take time to connect with the new born. Hopefully, society will wake up to the realities of postpartum depression In men; the new fathers. 

4/5. Life takes a ‘hit’

The major complain one hears mostly is lack of sleep and lack of sex. Lack of either can take a toll on your mood. Thankfully, the society is slowly opening up to talk about this real issue rather than sweeping it under the carpet.

5/5. Neurone mirror the mood of the partner

In women, the reasons, normally, are chemical and physiological whereas with men they tend to pick their partners behavioural energy.

Also Read…

[1] Gestational Diabetes

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