The birth of a baby can trigger a range of powerful emotions such as excitement, joy, even fears. But it can also result in something you might not expect-postpartum depression. It is a condition which affects the mental health of many young mothers. The symptoms are the following: strong feelings of sadness, anxiety, or irritability, emotional stress which interferes with taking care of self or family,tearfulness,trouble to motivate oneself to do normal, routine chores, compulsive overeating or diminished interest in food, lack of interest in self grooming, inability to sleep when tired or too much sleeping, trouble concentrating or making decisions, forgetfulness, loss of pleasure or interest in doing things which used to be fun, undue worry about the baby, lack of interest in the new baby, fear of harming the new baby, thoughts of self harm or suicide.
The causes of post partum depression could be hormonal changes. Sometimes the hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger some symptoms. The amount of the two female hormones estrogen and progesterone increase greatly during pregnancy in a woman’s body. During the first 24 hours after childbirth, these amounts decrease rapidly and keep dropping till it reaches the normal level. Apart from these biological changes, numerous physical, psychological and environmental factors also contribute to postpartum depression such as fatigue, broken sleeping patterns, insufficient rest etc.
There are various breakthroughs in medical sciences dedicated to the mental healthcare of young mothers. The most common treatment for depression is the use of antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. The treatment depends on the nature and severity of the depression and to some extent on the individual preference. In severe cases medication is generally recommended under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
It is necessary to help young mothers cope with postpartum depression. It is to be borne in mind that everything cannot be done single handedly by the young mother. She should get sufficient rest when the baby sleeps. Friends, relatives or spouse can be solicited to assist in housework, baby care and cooking. The young mother should find time for herself and the spouse. One need not be guilty if the medications make it impossible to breastfeed the baby. A good mother is the one who takes care of herself so that she is able to take care of the baby. When the baby starts to have regular sleep during night, it is time to think about the mother’s diet and exercise program to aid her get back into shape. Exercise and proper diet will improve the mood and give a boost to the self esteem as well. Breastfeeding will help to jump start on shedding the baby weight.
If depression is interfering with one’s ability to take care of the baby, it doesn’t make one a bad mother. Be aware of the fact that it is only a passing phase and can be treated effectively. It is imperative to get professional help and follow the doctor’s instructions if one is suffering from postpartum depression. Finally, the support of spouse and family is vital to assure mental healthcare of young mothers.