“Anne is pregnant and is waiting for her delivery soon. Along the way, she is always moody, easily overwhelmed and triggered by her house environment. Her husband is always away and only around once a week. So, she must manage her life independently – going for pregnancy check-ups, doing chores, looking after her parents, and managing her small business.
Last week, she could not move from the bedroom much for 2 days in a row. So, she stays there and sleeps most of the day. Her husband didn’t care much and just followed suit.
Yesterday she went to see a doctor to get her final medical follow-up before her delivery. She told the doctors about her symptoms and how she had felt in the past months. She thought it was normal to feel that way because the hormone changes, and plus, her husband is not around much to help her.
The doctor then screened her quickly and asked her to see a specialist for a proper diagnosis. Because she’s suspecting Anna of experiencing early postpartum depression.”
How many of us have ever heard about this situation? Or are we Anna ourselves? Or perhaps we witnessed someone we know experiencing the same struggle as Anna.
It is no longer rare or peculiar, especially among mothers. This condition is also known as Baby Blues by some.
What is Postpartum Depression?
“Postpartum depression is a mental illness that affects women after giving birth.”
Other definitions of postpartum include:
“A serious medical condition that affected a new mother during pre and/or post-giving birth to their child.”
According to the DSM-5, postpartum depression is a form of major depression that begins within 4 weeks after delivery. Therefore, postpartum depression diagnosis is measured through the length of time between delivery, onset, and the severity of the depression itself.
When does it start, and how long will it last?
The symptoms may develop within the first few weeks after giving birth. Yet, it begins earlier (during pregnancy or up to a year after the birth or more extended, leading to depression).
It can also happen to new fathers (especially young fathers with a mental illness history and/or financial problems) that the same symptoms are experienced by mothers.
How do I know if I am experiencing it?
We’ll never know if someone we know or close to us might experience it. Or maybe we do experience it. So, let’s have a closer look into this list of symptoms below:
- Excessively sad or down.
- Crying or tearful frequently
- Loss of interest or pleasure in life.
- Change of appetite (overeating or less).
- Lack of energy and unmotivated to do things.
- Feeling restless, irritable, or anxious.
- Experiencing changes in sleeping patterns (oversleeping, insomnia, or trouble staying asleep).
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, guilty and/or like life isn’t worth living.
- Loss or gain weight.
- Showing little interest towards the baby.
- Not feeling attached to the baby.
If we start experiencing the symptoms stated above, seek help immediately. It is crucial to see the professional as soon as possible, especially when:
- Prolong after two weeks.
- Worsen by day.
- Difficult to care for your baby.
- Struggle to complete daily tasks.
- Emerging thoughts of harming self or the baby.
Understanding the signs earlier would be advantageous to all mothers (not to forget fathers), especially the first timers. Changing body features, hormone adjustment, future planning, and commitment – are all valid reasons to start reflecting and preparing ourselves.
It is natural and can happen to anybody – our sisters, best friends, neighbours, etc. The earlier we understand and work on prevention, the better chances for each mother to stay healthy during their pregnancy journey to quality parenthood.