OVERCOMING POSTNATAL DEPRESSION.Postnatal depression (PND), also called Postpartum Depression, is a type of depression that affects some women after childbirth. It affects 10 per cent of women.
PND comes with many symptoms and in varying combinations. The symptoms include: sadness, low mood, despondency, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, tension, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, feelings of guilt and rejection, reduced libido, crying episodes, lack of self-esteem and concentration. In severe cases of PND a mother may have thoughts of harming her baby or even killing herself, though this only happens in rare cases.
PND is very different from “Baby Blues”. Though both are postnatal emotional problems, PND is more serious, longer-lasting and needs urgent medical attention. It usually develops within the first six weeks of childbirth but can still manifest itself several months after childbirth.
Unfortunately, some women don’t admit they have PND, maybe for the simple reason that they don’t want to be seen as a bad mother. Sometimes too, some woman may have PND but are ignorant of it.OVERCOMING POSTNATAL DEPRESSION.
If you are diagnosed with or suspect you have PND, it is better to seek for help. This is because it can cause problems in your life, your job and can also put a strain in your relationship with your partner, your new-born baby and your older children (if any). In other words, you may not give as much attention as needed to your family and consequently, your children may grow up with some psychological or developmental problems.
The causes of PND are not known, however, a number of factors have been suspected to be linked to it. Such factors are: the dramatic drop in hormone levels after childbirth, past unpleasant experience or individual social circumstances (money problems, lack of support or problems in relationship).
Although the causes of PND are not known, it is relieving to know that the condition can be treated. The treatment includes:
- Antidepressant Medication – inform your doctor if you are breast feeding so that he can prescribe a medication that is safe for your baby.
- Therapies – like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); Interpersonal therapy; among others.
- Getting extra support with looking after the baby is also very important.
What You Can Do
- There are measures you can take yourself to help combat or prevent the illness. These self-help measure include:
- Rest – Have as much rest as you can.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Have plenty of fruits and raw vegetables in addition. Eat little and often. No alcohol please.
- Exercise – Gentle exercise such as a brisk walk outdoors can help you feel better.
- Avoid worries.
- Talk about your feelings.
- Get help with looking after the baby. Involve your partner, friends or relatives.
- Take care of yourself. Avoid major decisions or inessential tasks.
More importantly, note that PND is an illness and is only temporary. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby or that you are a bad mother. With proper treatment, it should improve in a few weeks.