Postpartum depression is a common ordeal for mothers. New moms are more vulnerable to this condition since they have an exponential amount of accumulated stress from all the pregnancy changes they have gone through. Other than that, having a newborn can trigger all sorts of emotions. These emotions can overshadow the happiness they feel after giving birth. Knowing the early warning signs of postpartum depression can help prevent depression from women who have recently given birth.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum (after childbirth) depression is the clinical term for mothers experiencing negative emotions after childbirth that may last for a long time. This condition is often a result of anxiety, sadness, fatigue, loss of sleep, and being emotionally, physically, and mentally overwhelmed after a newborn’s birth.
Postpartum depression is commonly referred to as baby blues. But contrary to popular belief, there is a distinction between postpartum depression and baby blues.
Baby blues or the feeling of sadness or emptiness after giving birth only lasts for about 3 to 5 days or up to 2 weeks.
A mother with postpartum depression, on the other hand, deals with these strong negative emotions for more than 2 weeks that makes her struggle from properly taking care of her baby.
Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that mothers and even fathers (paternal postpartum depression) can suffer from. This mental condition is treatable, that is why immediate action is needed to prevent it from worsening.
According to the WHO, 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have given birth, worldwide, suffer from mental illness, particularly depression.
They have also found that maternal mental health illness is more prevalent in developing countries. The findings show that 15% of pregnant women and 19.8% of postpartum mothers suffer from a certain mental health issue in developing countries.
The WHO also said that severe maternal mental illness might lead to self-harm and even suicide. Mental health conditions, especially depression, hinder the mother from functioning properly, which might result in child neglect that can negatively affect the child’s growth and development.
What are the early warning signs of postpartum depression?
For an immediate intervention to take place, family and friends must first be aware of the early warning signs of postpartum depression, which include:
- Severe mood swings
- Expressing strong negative emotions such as extreme sadness, anger, hopelessness, frustration, and anxiousness
- Exhibiting panicky and irritable behavior
- Feeling worthless and incompetent of being a good mother
- Being too scared, worried, and overwhelmed
- Frequent crying spells
- Having difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or extreme sleepiness
- Lack of concentration and problems with memory and decision making
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Excessive weight loss or weight gain
- Extreme fatigue and lack of energy
- Being aloof or losing interest to be with family and friends
- Feeling indifferent towards activities and hobbies that used to be fun before
Other signs that depict severe postpartum depression (psychosis), include:
- Feeling distant or not connected with the newborn
- Slipping into the notion that the newborn is somebody else’s baby
- Frightening thought of inflicting harm to the baby or oneself
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Suicide or infanticide
How to manage the signs of postpartum depression?
Being a wife and a mother will be more difficult for women, especially if they show signs of postpartum depression. However, there are ways you can help yourself improve and cope with your symptoms.
These tips might be difficult for some, so it’s best to take things easy. Just always remember that slow progress is still progress.
Here are some ways on how you can cope with postpartum depression:
Communicate with your partner, family, and friends
Doing this will help them understand what you’re going through as well as be aware of the things they need to do to assist you.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
Yes, you want everything to be perfect, but doing so much in a day can just add up to the stress that you currently have. Let others help you in doing housework, so you can focus on things, one at a time.
Allot a time for yourself
Being a mother is hard work, so it helps to remember that self-care can help you take better care of others.
You don’t need to do anything extra, you can just simply take a nice bath, listen to music, read, or have a quick walk outside. Making time for yourself is the reward you deserve for being a good mother and wife.
Sleep if you can
Losing sleep is one of the most dreadful parts of being a new mom. That is why napping or resting whenever you can is the best thing you can do.
If your partner is in charge of the baby, take that downtime to catch some sleep and if your baby is napping, go on and take a nap as well.
Exercising your body and mind regularly is important to maintain your sanity, since it releases endorphins that can help brighten up your mood.
Practice healthy eating
Maintain a proper and well-balanced diet. Eating is an essential part of a mother’s day since you need all the energy to take care of your newborn.
For family and friends, if you think that the early warning signs of postpartum depression are present in a new mother in your family or circle of friends, be there for them.
Different women suffer from different severity of postpartum depression. Thus, if you see that they cannot handle the situation themselves, it will be a great help if you’ll be the one to step up for them.
Consulting a professional and treating postpartum depression immediately could potentially save lives.
When in dire need of 24/7 mental health assistance, you can contact the National Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 0917 899 8727 (USAP) and 989 8727 (USAP).
Suffering from postpartum depression can be debilitating and frustrating, as new mothers cannot function well to take care of their families.
Knowing the early warning signs of postpartum depression can help family and friends in determining what actions to take as well as the kind of assistance and support they need to give to women who need it.
Talk to a medical professional for any concerns regarding postpartum depression, so you can be informed on what treatments and medications to take to help improve your condition.
Learn more about Mothercare and Postpartum and Self-care, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.