What is Postpartum Depression?

Giving birth is usually associated with joy and excitement over the newly born baby. Although exhausted from giving birth, most mothers are overwhelmed with positive emotions towards their child. But this is not true for all mothers. Some experience extreme mood changes shortly after giving birth, otherwise known as postpartum depression (PPD). Here’s what postpartum depression looks likes. 

Postpartum Depression

PPD is sometimes mistaken for ‘baby blues” which is a mood condition (irritability, restlessness, anxiety, crying spells, trouble sleeping, and weight loss) that can lasts between one and two weeks but mothers are still able to complete their daily care activities with little hassle. But with postpartum depression symptoms, mothers may find it difficult to take care of themselves and their newborn.

Symptoms can include:  

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
  • Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious
  • Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
  • Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Experiencing anger or rage
  • Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
  • Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
  • Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
  • Thinking about harming herself or her baby.

What causes Postpartum Depression (PPD)? 

During and after giving birth, your body goes through a lot of physical, mental, emotional and hormonal changes. The sudden drop of hormones (progesterone and oestrogen) can be extreme to the point that it affects a mother’s mood and quality of life. Interestingly, fathers have been found to experience PPD as well.

Diagnosis and treatment

As you can see Choma, the symptoms vary and are similar to those seen in clinical depression, which is why you can only be diagnosed by a medical or mental health professional. If these symptoms do not go away after two weeks, health care professionals advise that a mother should seek medical assistance. Additional treatment for mood disorders usually involves therapy or postnatal support groups with trained professionals.

PPD is a serious mental health concern. Both parents can be affected. If left untreated PPD can last for months or years. It’s easier to identify PPD symptoms from the people you know. So if you’re concerned about a loved one, encourage them to see a health care professional, offer emotional support and assist them with daily activities. 

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).