A lot of women suffer from it but few like to talk about it for fear of being stigmatised as having a disorder that makes you crazy enough to harm your baby. Regardless of your background or belief, postpartum depression is an equal opportunity villain that strikes women from all walks of life. And if not properly treated, it can rob you of one of the greatest joys bestowed upon a human being – motherhood.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mood which occurs days to a month after childbirth with prevailing symptoms such as body aches, isolation, extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability plus changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Also referred to as ‘postnatal depression’, it’s aetiology is still unknown although it is believed to be a result of a mixture of physical, emotional, and genetic factors that includes hormonal changes and sleep deprivation. Approximately 15 per cent of women suffer from mild or moderate PPD.
The prospect of a new bundle of joy is usually an exciting occasion that unites family and friends. From baby showers and gender reveal parties to choosing baby names and printing ultrasound and sonogram pictures to share with everyone who has a vested interest in the raising of the child, it is a time of hope and happiness. But sometimes, instead of an abundance of joy, there is endless depression as the mother distances herself from her newborn, leaving the family bewildered.
However, PPD should not be confused with baby blues’, as the latter lasts just a few days and usually stems from being overwhelmed by the new responsibility or a fear of not having all the necessary tools to be a good mother. While for many it fades over time, PPD should not be ignored if the symptoms persist, as it can have devastating consequences, including suicidal thoughts or cause a mother to harm her baby.
Before a woman even gets pregnant, she ideally should know her family’s medical history. She should also check to see if she is at risk for PPD based on her genetic composition since it is a possibility if there is a history of depression or bipolar disorder in her family. A woman may also be at risk if she was depressed during her pregnancy, has a history of substance abuse, is younger than 20, has difficulty breastfeeding, has a child with special needs or if the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.
If a woman expresses thoughts of suicide or says she does not love her baby, do not brush it off as mere talk. Get her help immediately.
— Written by C.W.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of BUZZ or its employees.