The narrative less traveled

Post-Partum depression comprises physical, emotional and behavioural changes that women go through after giving birth. Firstly, it is important to note that ‘baby blues’ are completely normal for most women to go through. Those feelings of sadness and emptiness after giving birth are normal if they last for a few days; however, if they are persistent this might be an indication that you are suffering from post-partum depression.

Carrying and bringing life into this world is one of the most physically and emotionally taxing tasks any human being can possibly go through. When you watch any movie, the women are always instantly overwhelmed with joy as soon as they hold their babies. They somehow transition into motherhood like they just unlocked something that was always within them. The reality for most women is far from this, because parenting isn’t easy, especially when you’re still recovering from the physical trauma of giving birth.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

Difficulty sleeping; accompanied by changes in appetite, excessive fatigue, decreased libido and frequent mood changes are some of the first signs that there is possibly something wrong. When these symptoms are also accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, loss of pleasure, feeling helpless, depressed mood, feeling worthless and suicidal ideation then it is necessary to see a doctor in order to get a diagnosis.

Who is likely to get this type of depression?

People with a history of depression prior to or during the pregnancy are at high risk of also being diagnosed with post-partum depression. Other high-risk people include; young mothers, women who already have a lot of children, those with a history of PMDD, limited social support, living alone and marital conflict. All these factors can cause a strain on anyone, therefore if you have one of these symptoms before or during the pregnancy, it is important to disclose this to your doctor in order to prepare yourself.

Treatment and Prevention

Therapy

Talking to a professional will go a long way because they will not be judgemental about your condition. They will also guide you by giving you strategies to change how you feel because of the depression.

Medicine

If you see a medical professional, they will prescribe medication to treat your depression. There are a variety of treatments that include a variety of antidepressants that will be prescribed depending on the severity of your depression and how responsive you will be to the treatment.

What will happen if you ignore the problem?

Firstly, you won’t be able to bond with your child because you’re likely to not be interested or too tired to do the necessary work for bonding. Your child will have difficulty learning including delays in language development. Your child will also be susceptible to behavioural problems, increased agitation and crying, shorter height and a higher risk of obesity in pre-schoolers and social anxiety especially at school.

If you identify with a few of these symptoms it is important for you to go and see a professional. There is no shame in suffering from this condition as it is common in a lot of women. Delaying seeking help will only worsen the situation as it will spill over to other aspects of your life as well as your child’s life. If you are constantly thinking about hurting yourself or someone else please contact the South African Suicide helpline; at 0800 567 567 or visit the website here;  http://www.sadag.org/.

If identified earlier and treated appropriately, you should be able to get back to truly enjoying the wonderful experience that motherhood can be!