Postpartum Depression (ppd) - Understanding Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatments And Psychology
Out of the innumerable things that evolve around a new mother, we want to discuss a critical issue of Postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is real and far more common than not, often ostracised out of ignorance.
Lack of sleep, over raging hormones, and responsibility of a child are the general causes of baby blues. These begin after delivery and last upto few weeks. In the wake of the pivotal shift that a new mom goes through, "baby blues" is actually very natural with anxiety, crying spells, mood swings, irritability etc.
PPD is a more severe form of baby blues which, if not addressed and treated at the earliest, can have a detrimental long term effect on the well-being of a mother and her off-spring/s. PPD can begin with child-birth and go on upto 7-8 months or more.
The symptoms of PPD must be explained to all the people so that it equips everyone to help the new mom deal with the issue.
Here is an elaborate list of signs of PPD which are generally overlooked and are hard to detect –
(1) Sleep abruption
Sleeping too much or having insomnia, either way, the sleep effected over and above the regular sleep deprivation due to newborn care.
(2) Emotional Symptoms
- Feeling depressed, sad with no apparent reason,
- Frequent crying episodes without any known cause,
- Feeling hopelessness as if you can't be happy ever again.
- Feeling extreme emotions such as irritability, anger, anxiousness, extreme mood
- Unknown triggers that cause panic attacks and anxiety attacks.
(3) Physical Symptoms:
- Perpetual Tiredness with unusual pain, aches or a feeling of sickness
- Physical isolation from people in general, including the family members and the baby.
- Loss of appetite or, too much eating.
(4) Psychological Symptoms:
- Loss in concentration and difficulty in remembering things.
- Confusion in daily routine and inability to make decisions
- Not feeling as excited and connected with the baby as envisioned.
- Fear of the baby's health and own.
- Feeling inadequate in terms of fulfilling a mother's responsibilities.
- Suicidal thoughts about harming oneself, others or/and the baby, hallucinations,
baby paranoia (severe level PPD).
UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES AND PSYCHOLOGY OF PPD
The world of a new mother takes a monumental turn and, many physical and emotional reasons can cause PPD.
(1) The dip in the level hormones (progesterone, estrogen, thyroid etc.) cause chemical reactions in the body and lead to PPD.
(2) The expectations of being the perfect parent cause anxiety and overwhelming rush.
(3) Sleep deprivation and changes sleeping patterns due to nursing the baby keeps you tired, torpid and dull.
(4) History of clinical depression
(5) Pregnancy and birth of twins, triplets or multiples can cause PPD.
(6) Physical body image anxiety.
(7) Lack of support from family or your partner.
Shruti, a mother of twins, says, "PPD is a baffling situation. With The responsibility of taking care of twins, health complications was making me lose my nerve and worsening my PPD. The right guidance from doctors and mental/physical support from my husband and family became the key to defeat PPD sooner. Self-determination and strong will power to overcome PPD also helped me to get back on track without medication.
The gynaecologist and obstetricians dealing with the PPD patients suggest few things which the people helping the new mom can do-
(1) Help the new mother to settle into the new role of motherhood with a smooth transition.
(2) Complete/sharing a larger part of household responsibilities as much as possible.
(3) Ask for help from neighbours, friends and relatives.
(4) Listen and understand the emotional spree of the new mother, her hormones are not in her control.
(5) Motivate her, tell her she is doing her best and things will improve with time.
(6) Abstain comparison from false social media benchmarks of parenthood.
The preeminent thing is AWARENESS about PPD. It will help to get immediate support when everyone knows the issue and symptoms.
The form of treatments depends on the type and complexity of the patient.
(1) Anti-depressants medication
(3) Hormonal medication
(4) PPD support groups
There are few tips for naturally dealing with PPD alongside other medical treatments.
(1) Acknowledging the issue and preparing mentally for recouping from PPD.
(2) Limit the number of visitors in the initial days to control anxiety from unwanted bits of advice.
(3) Talk and discuss other new moms to relate experiences and get the confidence of your own situation.
(4) Be realistic of expectation of motherhood, everything on social media is not real.
(5) Keep yourself motivated and accept this too shall pass.
(6) Try to indulge in some form of engagement. Exercise, walk, click lots of baby pictures.
(7) Rest when the baby rests and hand over household responsibilities to others.
(8) Stop over-worrying and take some me-time. A Hot shower, an episode of your favourite series, or a few minutes with your partner when the baby is asleep can rejuvenate you and lift up your mood miraculously.
(9) Vent it out if you feel the need to cry.
(10) Remember, your mind is in your control. Gradually put efforts to control your dull/helpless feelings. If you are strong, You will recover soon, and your baby will nurture better.
ROLE OF FAMILY
The role of the family is invaluable in recovery from PPD. Every family member should understand and have the consciousness, that even their tiniest support can have a massive positive impact on the mother's well-being and her recovery. The husband or partner is the biggest pillar of strength during the PPD recovery term. His support and sharing the responsibility of the newborn baby, or any elder child (in case of a second child) is paramount.
Garnering support and creating groups for PPD help
While the western world has recognised PPD as a genuine issue, in India, people are not aware enough, to address PPD the detrimental impact on the mother's mental health.
Social support groups and awareness programs should be mandatory with, courses such as Lamaze classes to create a parenting bond between the mother and the father. These groups should have father sessions to educate them rightly about what to expect and what to do.
What exactly does a new mom's recovering body needs, and the emotional tumult she goes through is not comprehensible by anyone else than the new mother herself. The attitude of Empathy and compassion for a new mother can bring about the change to face challenges of PPD.
Reach out to us for PPD support, if you face or know anyone who is facing severe PPD symptoms and psychosis.
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