Symptoms of Post-partum Depression

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Lookout for tell-tale signs of postpartum depression

These signs includes:

  • Feeling of unhappiness
  • Loss of hope
  • Feeling of guilt of not being a good mum or perfect dad
  • Overwhelming anxiety from thoughts of caring for the baby
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Loss of interest in social events, not receiving visitors as warm as usual.
As time progresses, a mother going through postpartum depression has poor sex drive, does not enjoying activities she previously enjoyed, is excessively tired most times, weeps incessantly, experiences sleeplessness and is overly anxious. In extreme cases, suicidal thoughts may appear and even persists.
She loves her baby and wants to be happy caring for the baby, but she just can’t.

Causes and Pre-disposing Factors

It is not clear what really causes postpartum depression but it is believed that the hormonal changes in a woman from pregnancy to post-partum may be implicated. But this does not explain why it happens in some fathers as well.
A woman is predisposed to postpartum depression by the following factors:
  1. History of suffering depression during pregnancy
  2. History of someone suffering depression in the family
  3. Postpartum depression after a previous child birth
  4. Physical limitations after childbirth
  5. Extremely stressful or painful labor
  6. When child birth process was exceedingly difficult that resulted to injury to the child or mother.
  7. Lack of support from family and friends
  8. Culture that places undue expectation and responsibility on a new mother.
  9. Formula feeding of the child right from birth instead of breast feeding which promote infant-maternal bonding.
  10. Mothers lifestyle e.g. smoking
  11. Previous Premenstrual Disorder
WHAT CAN BE DONE
  • Non-drug therapy such as group or home visits could go long way in helping sufferers of postpartum depression. Psycho-social support is a key way to cope with PPD. For example, prevalence rate of PPD is considered to be low in some traditional African setting where there is an age long practice of ‘omugwo’ where the woman’s mother takes over the care of both the new born child and the mother for weeks.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – This is usually with the help of a mental health physician. He helps the new mother and family to clearly identify the problem, develop a coping strategy to deal with the situations.
  • The age-long saying that prevention is better than cure cannot be truer. Thus if a couple identifies situations that can precipitate PPD, they will be wise to avert such occurrence by seeking support of other family members when the new baby arrives.
  • Drug is used in some situation to increase the level of a neurotransmitter in the blood called serotonin, this group of drugs are known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
  • Some foods have been shown to help in the management of Depression

    You can read more about PPD here

References
  1. Poçan AG, Aki OE, Parlakgümüs AH, Gereklioglu C, Dolgun AB. The incidence of and risk factors for postpartum depression at an urban maternity clinic in Turkey. Int J Psychiatry Med. 2013; 46(2):179-94.
  2. Shubham Mehta and Nidhi Mehta. An Overview of Risk Factors Associated to Post-partum Depression in Asia. Ment Illn. 2014 Mar 4; 6(1): 5370. doi: 4081/mi.2014.5370
  3. Robinson GE, Stewart DE. Postpartum disorders. Stotland NL, Stewart DE, editors. , Psychological aspects of women’s health care. 2nd ed Washington DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc; 2001. 117-139.

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