Post-Partum Depression – PPD, what is that again? I have gotten quite a few questions from the people around me, on exactly what this is, and why I am so vocal about it. Thought to give some insight into this, Think of it as a basic introduction.
So, the past 9 months have been filled with highs and lows, moments of ecstatic joy and (seemingly) endless days of waiting, days when you smiled and days when you cried as much (sometimes for no reason, comes with the pregnancy) and all these experiences were crowned with the birth of your precious baby. Everyone is happy for you, everyone is excited you made it safely, and you cannot help but marvel at the thought of carrying and giving life.
The hospital visits warm your heart, the congratulatory texts and messages on social media make you all fuzzy, and sometimes you cannot wait to post a picture of the love of your life. Two days later, you head home, your baby swaddled up in the warmest of shawls. As you open the door to your home, you walk into a new season of your life. This is like flipping a new chapter of your favorite read, where new characters emerge and the plot takes a sudden drastic change, one which you are only too enthralled to take on.
You sit and hold your baby, looking into their eyes, and wonder why you feel so low, so drained, so angry. But this is supposed to be such an amazing experience? Why do you feel down? Granted, the change of emotions is attributed to the experience of child birth. Many new moms will feel anxious after birth, and a good number will experience baby blues. This, however, lasts a fortnight at most. Mothers suffering from the blues will often cry, experience anxiety, become irritable and find it hard to catch a few hours’ quality sleep.
If, however, this blues last more than a fortnight, there is need to be concerned. Post-Partum Depression begins after delivery, and is characterized by the same traits of baby blues, only they are heightened. In addition to mood swings and anxiety, PPD symptoms include anger, bitterness, drastic changes in appetite, lack of interest in activities that one previously enjoyed as well as extreme negative emotions. The latter range from regret, to guilt to hopelessness, and worst of all, helplessness.
This begs the question, what exactly causes moms to plunge into depression following childbirth? Scientists agree that there is no specific reason, but PPD is often a lethal cocktail of hormonal changes, biochemical factors, the surrounding environment, psychological changes, and for some moms, genetic factors.
Present research points out that one of the most reliable indicators of PPD is depression during pregnancy (especially in the last trimester). Other indicators include:
- Prior episodes of depression.
- Family history of depression.
- Marital conflicts/ relationship conflicts
- Stressful life events such as the loss of a spouse, loss of a job or lack of a support network.
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
- Previous addictions.
While risk factors predispose new moms to PPD, they do not necessarily cause the condition. As with any other medical condition (and especially because this one directly affects you and baby), it is imperative that you get medical attention immediately. Call up a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, and are going through major life changes. You may also get to talk to a counsellor to walk you through this.
NB: This blog is not managed by medical professionals. As such, it does not offer any diagnosis or treatment regimens. This blogpost serves to give incisive insight into Post-Partum Depression with the hope that other mums suffering the same will know that they are not alone. Consequently, information shared on this platform should not be used to self-diagnose, and must always be checked with a professional medical practitioner.
Photo credits: Tintseh Photography