Embracing motherhood comes with its own joy, a whole lot of responsibility, endless work but a certain happiness that only mothers can understand, and will be hard for us to describe. Yet for every sunshine, there comes an eclipse, which covers the brightness and plunges it into dark albeit for a while. Postpartum Depression (PPD) is similar to that eclipse, which steals the joy out of initial parenthood.
Like the term suggests it is a mood disorder that is generally experienced within a year of giving birth. The name came from Latin word post-partum translated after birth. Contrary to the common belief, both parents may become the victim of it and end up tackling depression.
Earlier it was considered to start only after birth, but now per DSM-V, it can be anytime during pregnancy up to 1 year of childbirth. Mainly the signs emerge within the first 4 weeks of giving birth. Being a parent is a tough job, so of course, everybody feels a little sad or anxious at times about it. But when your symptoms last 2 weeks or longer is when it should alert you to the danger of PPD.
Symptoms are similar to other depression and include:
- A persistent feeling of sadness, sorrow, excessive crying
- Feeling exhausted all the time
- Lack of interest, in things you enjoy, or the world around
- Change in sleep pattern – insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Change in eating habits- loss of appetite or consuming too much
- Feeling guilty, hopeless
- Easily irritated or frustrated
- Can experience anger/resentment towards self, spouse or baby
- May feel like running away, to get away from it
- Don’t feel the bonding with your kid
- Feelings of not being good enough for your baby
- Even thoughts about harming yourself or the baby (not acted upon), or suicidal thoughts
Depression is like DNA, there may be similarities but it is never exactly the same for everyone. Each case is different and may have varied symptoms. But if you or your near ones feel that this is not how you usually are, then it is the time to seek help.
There are no defined causes of PPD. But having a baby is a major event which affects a person multidimensional. The physical aspect like the hormonal changes, emotional changes may trigger it. Risk factors include drinking, smoking, family history or a previous case of depression, low social support, complications during pregnancy and others.
The trick is to seek help at the right time. With help, you can beat PPD and take charge of your and your baby’s life. Treatment includes medication, behavioral therapies. Additionally, you can even though hard, but try breastfeeding as that aids combating PPD. Do not alienate yourself, have your support system, indulge in your favorite past times, spend and take time for yourself as well. Also, eat right and sleep tight as that goes a long way in taking care of your physical and mental health. And please make time for exercising, research shows that even little work out works as an antidepressant for you.
Rest something like parenting, you learn as you go. So arm yourself with knowledge, be sure to ask for help, you are not alone and you will see no dark clouds of PPD will keep you away from your bundle of joy.