Insights on Health: Motherhood and Post-Partum Depression
Having children is one of the most celebrated experiences a woman can go through. It’s such a revered occasion that the majority of people romanticize what it’s like to give birth. Women are taught that the instant their newborn emerges into the world, maternal instincts will kick in and erase all of the pain, hardship, and uncertainty that came with months of pregnancy. Some women do indeed take to motherhood with an easy transition. However, some mothers are shocked to discover that giving birth can usher in a crushing sense of unhappiness. If you find yourself suffering from extreme and persistent misery immediately after child-birth, you could be suffering from a condition known as Post-Partum Depression (PPD).
What is PPD?
Occurring at any time during pregnancy, and up to a year after giving birth, PPD is a mood disorder that causes women to feel extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion which interferes with daily activities or routine tasks. Feeling tearful or irritable just after giving birth is so common it is dubbed the “baby blues,” but the baby blues only ever last for a couple of weeks. What sets PPD apart from having the baby blues is the length of time throughout which PPD usually lasts. PPD is a longer-term more severe depression that can develop in new mothers at any time in the year after birth. Symptoms include constant sadness, mood swings, low energy levels, difficulty bonding with the baby, and frightening thoughts.
Mothers who suffer from PPD tend to cry easily, feel heavy fatigue, and also experience sleep problems. Feelings of shame and inadequacy, worthlessness, and fear of failure as a parent are also common with PPD. In severe cases, panic attacks, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide occur. The sad news is that PPD hurts, and it often happens to mothers who don’t suspect that it’s even possible. The good news though is that mothers are perfectly capable of making a full recovery from episodes of PPD. It is not clear why some mothers specifically develop PPD, but risk factors appear to include difficult childhood experiences, low self-esteem, a lack of emotional support, and stressful living conditions.
How is PPD Cured?
The best person to diagnose whether or not you’re truly suffering from PPD is a licensed healthcare practitioner. Since PPD has a broad spectrum of flexible symptoms, it’s easy for laypeople to jump to wrong conclusions about some of the stress that naturally comes with childbirth. Healthcare providers are best suited to identify meaningful PPD symptoms, and also to offer constructive guidance which can help restore peace of mind.
There are three main approaches involved in treating PPD:
- Therapy – This approach to treatment consist of talking one-on-one with a mental health professional who can help detect and eliminate risk factors that contribute to PPD.
- Lifestyle Management – This approach to treatment consists of counseled self-assessment which helps to purge negative or destructive routines and habits from your life.
- Antidepressants – This approach to treatment consists of mood regulation through prescribed medicine.
Much like all other forms of mental illness, PPD presents a complex set of pressures that are unique to each individual. Depending on the risk factors you are exposed to, treatment might involve just one single approach, or it could demand a combination of therapy, lifestyle management, and prescription meds. If you ever find yourself in such a situation after giving birth, don’t wrestle with the sadness on your own. Whether you’re a single mom, or whether you have a partner who can support you through this trying time, take the bold step of contacting a healthcare provider if you need help coping with depression. There’s no shame in doing what you have to do, in order to have peace of mind.