The feeling of giving birth to a baby and the joy of experiencing motherhood is probably the best phase for a woman. However, amid all the happiness and celebrations lie a hidden truth that most people seem to ignore: the probability of postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is real and can affect a mother within the first month of delivery, but the risk can persist longer.
According to a research review published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry in May 2016, approximately 14.5 percent women generally experience an episode of depression during pregnancy or in the initial months of delivery. However, many seem to overlook the symptoms of PPD and do not seek treatment. PPD may even impact the child as it significantly hampers the child's behavioral and emotional development.
Dr. Erin Smith of the Western Psychiatric Institute and the Clinic of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and colleges said, “Postpartum depression remains vastly under-diagnosed and under-treated, despite widespread consensus regarding itsvalence and potentially devastating consequences.”
Some of the important things to know about PPD are listed here:
- Do not confuse between hormonal changes and PPD : PPD can haunt anyone, be it a first-time mother or any other woman. Due to hormonal changes, feeling low in an instant and normal soon is a part of motherhood. But in case of continuous depressive episodes, when restlessness and misery become a regular affair, voraciously taking a toll on the woman, she might be suffering from PPD and probably needs medical help.
- PPD does not define you as a bad mother : Becoming a mother does not come without challenges. PPD can occur in most cases and is not rare. It does not define one as a bad mother, however. If it would have, then there would have been so many bad mothers around the world. The cycle of pregnancy and motherhood comes with its own challenges. A woman has to go through the terrible labor pain and after the delivery she has to be involved in nursing and feeding for hours. She has to attend to the child and her own needs. Mothers are bound to suffer from depression with varying degrees of severity. Some suffer from mild symptoms that can be ignored, but some others experience persistent episodes of depression.
- It can occur anytime between the first month and a year : Typically, PPD occurs within the first month of delivery, though there are risks of its occurrence even after a couple of months. Hollywood actor Courtney Cox suffered from PPD after six months of her baby's birth. While speaking about her delayed PPD to the USA Today , she said, “I could not sleep. My heart was racing. And I got really depressed.” PPD can last for more than a year, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as your body starts showing certain instabilities.
- Do not indulge in alcohol : Alcohol is definitely bad. The entire concept of drawing comfort from alcohol is nothing but a short-lived euphoria that can be detrimental to the mother's health. There is no point in taming the depressing thoughts through alcohol because they are bound to recur. A better solution is to sit with a friend or a family member and talk over a cup of coffee, may be.
Dealing with PPD
PPD is treatable with the right kind of treatment. Psychotherapy, coupled with some medications, can be a reasonable option to tackle depressive episodes based on one's condition.