Postpartum Depression: How to Deal with itLakshmi
When Sheila Karanth, a Software Engineer delivered her baby, she thought that she would be over the moon about it. However, just days after her child coming into the world, her happiness was clouded with a sense of anxiety and depression, a feeling that remained for a long period. If you are like Sheila who is going through something similar, remember that you are not alone. It is believed that one in every five women worldwide suffer from postpartum depression.
Why it happens
It is important to note that postpartum depression does not happen because of something that you did or as a result of something lacking in you. It is an outcome of several factors such as hormones, environment and genes that you have no control over.
A complete change in sleep pattern (with very little or no sleep), stress, sheer exhaustion due to the demands of being a new mother and the emotional roller coaster can also contribute to your depression.
What are the warning signs?
A bit of moodiness, sadness and irritation is considered normal after delivery and is often referred to as baby blues. However, if these symptoms persist for a longer duration and are more severe, then you mostly would be dealing with postpartum depression.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Irrational behaviour
- Extreme mood swings
- Paranoia of your baby being in danger
- Suicidal thoughts
- Extreme agitation and anxiety
- Feeling a sense of unworthiness
- Weeping constantly
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Losing interest in doing daily activities
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of harming or killing your baby (in rare cases)
How to cope up with it
Do not beat yourself over it
Treat yourself with kindness. It is very easy for a mothers to feel guilt and shame because of the emotions that they go through. Remember that there has been a massive shift in your life and many suffer from the same situation. Do not beat yourself over it. Instead, direct your energy on coming out of the depression.
Give importance to yourself
It is very easy to forget yourself with new responsibilities. Many times society too makes you feel that you need to stop giving priority to yourself. Remember, when you are at your best, you can give your best to your baby. Give importance to your health and well-being. Eat a well balanced diet and take as much rest as you can, even if it is for a short time. Do those little things such as reading that gives you a sense of fulfillment.
Talk to someone who has been through it or is going through it
It really helps if you reach out to family or friends who have gone through or are going through postpartum depression. By sharing your emotions, you will realise that you are not the only odd one dealing with it. They can also give you some useful insights and let you in on how they overcame it all. If you have no one to talk to, you can reach out to online support groups.
Do not hesitate to ask for help
It is often said that it takes an army to raise a child. There is only so much that one person can do. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Request your husband or other family members to chip in. If you are not comfortable with your baby being under another person’s care, you can get a maid to do other house chores such a cooking and cleaning. That will take some load off you.
Get moving in the outdoors
Just the act of getting up and moving about can make a huge difference. Depending upon your fitness levels, you can take gentle strolls in the garden. Firstly, the physical action shakes you off the emotional state that you are in. The fresh air and the change in environment even for a little time can have a therapeutic effect.
Also, the change in appearance is a major cause of discomfort and depression for many. When you start looking more like your prior self due to exercise, you will feel a whole lot better.
Do what works for you
One of the mothers mentioned that she started wearing her office clothes and dressing up properly at home. It really helped her shift her mental state. Do whatever works for you, even if it is wearing nice clothes at home, meeting a dear friend at a coffee shop or listening to upbeat music in the bathroom.
If your symptoms are too severe where you feel that you would be a threat to yourself or your baby, it is important that you seek counselling immediately. The right counsellor will be able to listen to all of your problems with an impartial mind and give you sound advice. The therapist might also give counselling to relatives if need be.
The good news is postpartum depression is treatable. It is important not to neglect yourself. As Hollywood actress Brooke Shields openly said in an interview about her battle with postpartum depression, “It has nothing to do with your love for [your children]. … It is something that is in your body, the loss of estrogen, the amount of hormones. … Pay attention to the feelings that you’re feeling and talk about it and ask your doctor… You don’t have to be miserable.”