Giving birth gives moms a mix of emotions. Some may feel ecstatic and over the moon, while others may feel the opposite: gloomy, moody, and out of sorts. But the question is, how can one know if it’s something that goes away after a short while or if it’s Postpartum depression, a serious type of condition that needs special and clinical attention? Read on to find out the probable causes and what you can do to cope:
After giving birth, moms are usually a picture of joy: happy, relieved, and feeling blessed that a new member of the family has arrived. But not all moms, however, feel the same. For some, it can be a time of confusion, uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, with symptoms and feelings that are hard to explain. Some moms just find themselves suddenly tearing up and feeling sad with reasons they can’t fully express. This commonly known as the “baby blues,” but if this exceeds more than two weeks straight and turns into a more intense state, this might be Postpartum Depression.
According to babycenter.com, a mom can tell if she has a clinical depression rather than just the normal stress and exhaustion due to the big adjustment of having a baby “if your feelings of sadness or despair are so powerful that they prevent you from being able to do your daily tasks – such as caring for yourself and others – you could have PPD.”
It’s easy to dismiss feelings of sadness and being emotional as part of being a new mom, which is why several PPD have gone undiagnosed. Other moms are also fear being criticized by other people, which is why they choose to keep everything for themselves. WebMD differentiates Postpartum Depression as something very different from the baby blues: “True postpartum depression is actually part of a constellation of conditions that experts call ‘perinatal mood disorders.’ These mood disorders involve more than just feeling depressed, and they can occur during pregnancy as well as afterward.”
The World Health Organization states that worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. In developing countries this is even higher, i.e. 15.6% during pregnancy and 19.8% after child birth.
Do you have Postpartum Depression?
Here are some warning signs that babycenter.com enurmerated:
- Extreme sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Crying all the time
- Loss of interest or lack of enjoyment in your usual activities and hobbies
- Trouble falling sleep at night, or trouble staying awake during the day
- Loss of appetite or eating too much, or unintentional weight loss or weight gain
- Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness or overpowering guilt
- Restlessness or sluggishness
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling that life isn’t worth living
Other possible signs you might be depressed include:
- Being irritable or angry
- Avoiding friends and family
- Worrying excessively about your baby
- Being uninterested in your baby, or unable to care for her
- Feeling so exhausted that you’re unable to get out of bed for hours
- In rare cases, some women with PPD experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations and may harm their baby.
What are the causes of PPD?
PPD is a subject that is still being highly studied due to the growing number of moms experiencing it, but so far there are no direct links to specific causes. But many studies have found that this condition may be triggered by a combination of physical changes and emotional stressors.
Healthline suggests that physical changes caused by hormones could be one of the causes. “While you’re pregnant, your levels of estrogen and progesterone are higher than usual. Within hours of giving birth, hormone levels drop back to their previous state. This abrupt change may lead to depression.” Specifically, this may lead to low thyroid hormone levels, sleep deprivation, inadequate diet, underlying medical conditions, and drug and alcohol misuse.
Emotional stressors include recent divorce or death of a loved one, you or your child having serious health problems, social isolation, financial burdens and lack of support.
How can you cope?
If you check a lot of the warning signs and symptoms, you should consider doing the following:
1. Get some professional help.
One of the biggest mistakes that most moms do is to not seek professional help. This is considered as a clinical depression, so there should be no hesitation when it comes to going to the hospital or a clinic. Go to your OBGYN first if you are experiencing physical symptoms and a therapist for emotional manifestations. Call the support help hot line in your country for more guided steps and more information.
2. Talk to your spouse.
Your partner and family should be the first to know about your condition. Remember that you are not alone. You should seek comfort from people close to you.
3. Create some time for yourself.
Being a new mom can come with a lot of stress, so try to calm down and relax. You can do an easy, calming meditation every day to clear your mind. Go for a much-needed pampering, or simply go out and enjoy the sun with close friends.
4. Do some exercise.
Yoga can give amazing benefits for your mind and body, if you’re not the type who likes hardcore physical activities. But just walking or jogging can also be beneficial for your health. Whatever you exercise or workout plan that you do, do it for your health.
5. Eat a healthy diet.
Have fun in the kitchen. Get the whole family involved and share meals together.
6. Get creative.
Start a new hobby. Whether it’s painting, singing, dancing, or sewing, don’t be afraid to express yourself.
It can do wonders. The Bible says “Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). Prayer and belief in God can help us find peace in our hearts. And this is also backed by Science. In a article posted by beliefnet.com, there is a strong correlation between battling anxiety and a strong faith in God. “A study published in Sociology of Religion suggests that prayer can ease people’s anxiety an help alleviate worries, but this is contingent on the personality of the God they believe in, and how secure their relationship is with God. If they believe they are in a relationship with an angry, or vengeful God, it can bring more stress. If they believe they are in a relationship with a loving, or a friendly God, it can bring them less stress.”
What the article stresses is encouraging for moms who are suffering from PPD: “The ability for prayer to relieve our anxiety and depression only happens when our relationship with God is secure. When we believe God is loving, and we trust Him to handle our needs, we move away from stress and worry and enter a place of healing.”
8. Bond with your baby.
Babies may be little but they can hear what you say and feel with their heart. Your touch is very important to them. Give your baby a lot of hugs and eye-to-eye contact. Parenting.com says, “Your responsiveness will deem you trustworthy in her tiny eyes.”
Other forms of bonding time can be things where he or she can start learning. Play children’s songs and read stories. Stimulate your baby’s mind and curiosity. A dose of sunshine can also brighten up not only your baby’s mood but also yours. Bring out the stroller and go for a walk around the park. This way you’ll get your minimum workout and have fun with your precious one, too. Get your partner and family involved. Your baby should not be attached only to you but also you your family. Babies can feel and show love and emotions even when they were in their mom’s womb. Parents.com states, “Most children form deep, loving bonds with their parents and friends from a very early age. It starts before a child can verbally express his likes or dislikes, according to Lawrence Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting (Ballantine). Even newborns feel attachment from the moment they’re born!” The article continues, “A baby is dependent on caregivers for everything from nourishment to safety, so her initial bond is very strong, explains D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, a child psychologist and psychology editor for KidsHealth.org.” So give your baby the best care in the world!
9. Join a community of new moms or talk to your mom friends who have experienced the same thing.
Super Mom is comprised of moms who want to share their journeys in motherhood including ups and downs. The unpredictability of this extremely joyful, yet challenging, time of being a mom can bring a lot of worries with it,
which is why this community is here to share this wonderful message: You aren’t alone! We are all in this together!