The feeling of giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby is part of the joy of experiencing motherhood. However, amid all the happiness and celebrations lies a hidden truth that most people seem to ignore: the probability of postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is real and can affect a mother within the first month of delivery, but it can persist longer.
According to the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, approximately 14.5 percent of women experience an episode of depression during pregnancy or in the first few months of delivery. So, what are the symptoms? How do new mothers overcome this postpartum depression and what can their husbands, other family members, and friends do to help them in such situation? Let’s find out.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a life-changing experience. It can happen to mothers anytime within the baby's first year. However, you should keep in mind that what you feel happens to other women too– you are not alone. Even famous celebs like Brooke Shields faced postpartum depression, and she also wrote a book about her experience!
Just like other forms of depression, PPD also comes with its symptoms, but many of them are not easily detectable in the early stages, so we listed some of them below.
Sadness, irritability, anger, and frustration
Feeling as if you are a lousy mother
Feeling guilty and unworthy
Difficulty in sleeping and exhaustion
Thinking as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel
Apparent weight changes and lack of appetite
Inability to concentrate and remember things
Crying for no reason at all
Lack of interest to talk or spend time with friends and family
Your baby is not making you happy
Blaming your baby for what you feel
Wanting to hurt your baby and even yourself
A woman’s health care provider can help her choose the best treatment for PPD, which may include counseling or medication. If you experience any symptoms of postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis, get help immediately.
Can Men Experience PPD?
Interestingly, new evidence suggests that postpartum depression is no longer a condition experienced by new mothers alone, it may also affect new fathers in much the same way. Though it is a relatively new concept, perhaps just coming to light, but thanks to a growing acceptance of the full range of emotional experience that men are capable of.
Also, since society as a whole has traditionally embraced the idea of the strong male figure, men typically have become well-skilled at concealing their postpartum depression aided by the fact that they may, or may not, show any of the previously listed traditional signs that a new mother does.
Although a new father may attempt to "keep up appearances," the best clue that he might have an underlying problem is found by being alert to things that appear to be "just not right" in regards to his normal behaviors. How Can Family and Friends Help?
Having shown that PPD affects both new mothers and fathers alike, family members and friends can offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home. When it comes to PPD, it is essential to make time in your busy schedule to recharge and rejuvenate.
This plan should be for both parents and should also include some grown-up time. There is nothing wrong with calling loved ones to babysit once every two weeks to be able to go out for dinner with each other; in fact, your family will probably jump at the chance. Besides asking to babysit so that you guys can go on a date or see friends, you can also ask the baby’s grandparents to watch the baby while you get some sleep.
Postpartum depression is real but treatable with the right kind of treatment. As shown above, psychotherapy, coupled with some medications, can be a reasonable option to tackle depressive episodes based on one's condition. Seeking treatment for postpartum depression is imperative. Doing this is safe both for your health and that of your baby.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or thinking of suicide, get help quickly.
Call your doctor.
Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
Call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
Reach out to a close friend or loved one.