Most people do not believe in the existence of a condition called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a kind of clinical depression which affects new parents after childbirth. While mothers are the ones mostly affected, sometimes, a small percentage of fathers are affected too. The time when the parents need to rejoice and enjoy the beautiful new addition to their family becomes a time of anxiety, sadness and irritation. The main symptoms of postpartum depression are the frequent crying, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, change in eating patterns, low energy, sadness and anxiety.
The main reason for postpartum depression is the hormonal changes that take place in the body, especially of the mother, after childbirth. During pregnancy, the entire focus and attention was on the mother. After childbirth, when the mother needs care, affection and attention the focus gets diverted towards the child. A new mother is anxious about her parenting skills and identity crisis. She loses control over her life. The romantic and emotional support she expects from her partner may also be missing. The new little being in her life has ruined her sleep and makes constant demands on her for food, warmth and attention. She spends her days feeding and caring for the infant, and her nights carrying around a colicky infant.
Five tips on how to deal with postpartum depression are listed below:
- A support group especially dealing with postpartum depression patients can help in the recovery of new mothers.
- Counseling is also an invaluable method of treating postpartum depression patients without the use of medicines.
- Recently, Internet based cognitive behavioural therapy programs have been developed. These programs seem to show promising results. Since these are from the comfort of the home, it is easier for new mothers to opt for them.
- Good diets, acupuncture, massage, exercise and exposure to sunlight are recommended by certain doctors. While it is unclear whether these can help, these will definitely not harm either the baby or the mother. So mothers who feel benefited by these treatments should definitely go in for them.
- Lastly, the importance of medical intervention cannot be set aside, especially in certain situations. In about one or two per thousand postpartum depression patients, the symptoms are very severe and the last for more than two weeks. This condition is known as postpartum psychosis. These patients can potentially harm either themselves or their babies. They require immediate medical intervention.
Indian Culture considers child-rearing as a social activity. New parents are helped by relatives and friends in the first few weeks or months after the entry of a baby in their lives. This makes it easier for the new parents to cope with the changes happening in their life. The incidence of postpartum depression is lesser in those families where mothers have such helpful people around her. A baby is a demanding creature and it does not need to be that only the mother will care for it. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbours should try to pipe in and do their bit. In those families where there is no such help available, parents should enlist the services of babysitters and should not feel guilty about taking a break once in a while. Only physically and emotionally healthy parents can take better care of their children.