Is Postpartum Depression for Real?
A baby's birth can cause a jumble of strong emotions, from excitement and joy to anxiety and fear. But it may also lead to something that you do not expect—depression.
A lot of new moms experience extreme mood swings, uneasiness, crying spells, and insomnia as they are suffering from “baby blues”. This usually begins after 2-3 days of the delivery and can last for weeks.
When these mood-related issues last longer than a week or two, this then results in a severe condition called “Postpartum Depression”. It is not a predisposed characteristic of a person rather arises from physical and psychological consequences associated with the birth of a child. Recent research suggests that 15% of the first time birth givers suffer from postpartum depression. Extreme Mood swings, burnout, hopelessness, and helplessness are some of the symptoms of postpartum depression which makes it difficult for a new-mom to nurture the baby.
While most people can agree or can associate with the above-mentioned description of the disorder the researchers suggest that even new-fathers can also suffer from postpartum depression which includes fatigue, financial hardships, difficulty managing the work-life, etc. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition classifies Major depressive disorder with peripartum onset specifying the symptom onset during pregnancy or after 4 weeks of giving birth. The depressive symptoms can persist for several weeks or years after giving birth. Researches also suggest in the worst cases it results in maternal suicide. Most women reported a lack of family or social support associated with these symptoms, while other causes attributable to postpartum or peripartum depression are, unwanted pregnancy, marital discord, financial hardships, substance abuse. etc.
Not only in western countries people fall for postpartum depression, but studies also suggest that nearly 22% of women fall for postpartum depression(Upadhyaya-et-al,2018 ). Some studies further revealed the causal factors associated with these are partner violence, unhappiness about the sex of the child, poverty. (Chandra 2004). While we thought that it was all about the new-birth givers, studies reveal that postpartum depression faced by mothers can impact the psychological and cognitive development in children. (Bhatia, 2020). Postpartum depression can interpret the mother-child bonding as studies reveal that women ignore breastfeeding the child at times or are usually inconsistent in taking care of the newly born.
We need to be aware of those around us and can help them deal constructively with it by extending a helping hand. We can do so by giving the new-mother small breaks, providing a listening ear, and helping her in her daily routine, being patient and understanding. This is especially for the new-fathers who observe such kinds of symptoms in his wife and also for all those who have a lactating or new birth giver at home. While this applies to the significant others or to the family members, one should also visit a psychologist for better treatment.
Ways to Help Your Wife/Partner Deal with it!
- Motivate her to talk about her feelings: listen to her without judging or suggesting something, give her a safe space to talk.
- Offer help: take part in household chores and child responsibilities.
- Do not force for sex: be patient if your partner is not ready for sex instead offer her physical affection.
- Encourage self-care in her: go out for a walk with her, make her mediate, and provide her comfort food.