The moment a woman discovers about her pregnancy, the first CT Scan, listening to the child’s heartbeat for the first time, going through all those monthly check-ups, cooing over mini clothes in stores, and thinking about baby names. Those nine months is a journey that is enriching, overwhelming and full of desires. And finally, the day comes when the mother delivers her baby, the experience is beyond words. Post-childbirth, a woman goes through infinite emotions.
A majority of women feel baby blues post-childbirth. She may cry for no obvious reason, feel anxious, and sad. She may feel incompetent to handle her child, may not know how to manage herself, and several other emotions. Generally, such conditions begin during the third or the fourth day after the delivery. This condition eventually subsides with few weeks without any psychological treatment. The woman can go through it with the love, support, and reassurance from the family members.
But if these baby blues persist beyond a month or so after child-birth, it is termed as Postpartum Depression or Post Natal Depression. It is a complicated combination of emotional, physical, and behavioural changes caused by social, chemical, and psychological factors. Antidepressant medications or psychological therapies can help with this.
What causes postnatal depression?
More research is required to understand the root cause of the development of postnatal depression. Other causes seem to be stressful events post-childbirth, anxiety, the responsibility of the baby, feeling isolated, etc. A woman may be more likely to have a risk of developing PND if she:
- Has a history of any mental health issues
- Had depression during her pregnancy
- Lack of support
- Had physical health issues during pregnancy
- Unplanned pregnancy
- Been trying to get pregnant for a long time
Postnatal depression symptoms
The Postnatal Depression symptoms are similar to depression symptoms. The PND symptoms begin for a few days and may extend for months. Symptoms like:
- Lack of interest in her baby and herself, not able to enjoy anything.
- Feeling to cry, or crying without any reason
- Poor Concentration
- Feeling Irritated, rejected, guilty of not being good enough
- Unable to cope up
- Lack of motivation
- Unable to make decisions
- Depressed mood
How is postnatal depression diagnosed?
It is generally a set protocol of most healthcare professionals to check for depression in new mothers. The doctor or the team would try to analyze her state of mind or anxiety levels by asking a few sets of questions. It is vital that the woman truthfully shares her answers about how she is feeling. The doctor will usually create a diagnosis of PND based on how the patient feels and what family members have to say about the patient or new mother. Usually, tests are not required. However, sometimes the doctor may suggest a blood test to ensure any physical reason such as anaemia or underactive thyroid gland.
Treatment for postnatal depression
The treatment for postnatal depression is different depending on the type, impact, and severity of the woman’s symptoms. The new mother and the doctor should be able to decide on the best course of action for her. Some options of treatments include psychotherapy, antidepressant or anti-anxiety medicines, and participation in a support group. Some situations may necessitate more than one treatment.
Support and advice
One of the primary and the best treatment for PND is support and understanding of friends and family. The person suffering should talk to her family or friends and share what she feels. They can assist her by caring for her child while the mother rests or takes care of herself. Try to enrol in self-help groups. It would be surprising to know how other women feel the same as you. Such groups often provide support and encouragement and also advice on how to cope with it.
If the postnatal depression is in a range of moderate to severe, antidepressant medications are often prescribed for PND. Antidepressants help to ease some symptoms like poor sleep, weak concentration, low mood, irritability, etc. They increase the person’s ability to cope well with their newborns. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants such as Tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and others.
Another treatment option suggested for postnatal depression is psychological treatment. There are numerous types of treatment options such as Interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, etc.
Postpartum or Postnatal depression is quite common among new mothers, but acknowledging this emotional roller coaster was a taboo in our society. But, over the years, more women are getting vocal about it. Society should encourage new mothers not to feel ashamed or doubt themselves, rather address these concerns to cherish precious time with their babies.
New mothers can seek solace by consulting the best psychologist in Hyderabad at TruHap. One of their core focuses is to assist women during this stage who need coping up with depression.