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Monday, April 15, 2024

The un-spoken truth about motherhood – Postpartum Depression

Falak Zehra Mohsin |

With Mother’s Day is just around the corner, numerous eateries and brands are offering ‘mommy and me’ discounts and deals. Many of us are probably planning a nice lunch or dinner for our mothers or buying nice gifts. But have we ever stopped to think what a woman goes through when she has a baby? For most women, having a baby is a period of excitement and delight coupled with some anxiety.

However, there are those who experience none of these, rather they go through a feeling of sadness and despair. It is difficult to imagine that a mother, with a newborn child, experiences anything but happiness – and yet it is important to realize that it does happen.

Postpartum depression is a condition where women experience clinical depression after giving birth.  It is a complex and challenging disorder. Research has shown that approximately 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression and between 25% to 50% of mothers with postpartum depression have episodes that last six months or longer. One generally begins to experience postpartum depression during the first 3 weeks after the birth of their child.

Studies have posited that fathers with a history of depression, young fathers and fathers with financial difficulties are at a higher risk of suffering depression.

Common factors that lead to postpartum depression are stress and anxiety faced by the mother,  family history of depression and the fluctuating or changed hormone levels. Other risk factors can include any changes in relationship with ones’ spouse, the fear or anxiety related to a new responsibility and expectations, and even prenatal depression and anxiety.

Read more: Why social media might be causing depression?

Mothers going through postpartum depression have stated that they experience strong feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, and anxiety. These feelings are often associated with behavioral changes such as trouble bonding with the baby, decreased appetite and self-care, increased sleep, crying, trouble concentrating, memory issues and so on. Studies have shown that postpartum depression if left untreated, can have adverse effects on not only the mother but also the child. Children of mothers with untreated postpartum depression have shown issues with neurodevelopment and cognitive skills.

The purpose of writing this article is to encourage new mothers to take note of themselves, their feelings and their behaviors. If you feel any negative feelings or have noticed the above mentioned behavioral changes, there is no shame in seeking help and counseling. Search for a counselor in your vicinity or talk to your gynecologist. Your doctors would generally be willing to refer you to a counselor. It is important to realize that even though you may feel doomed for life or never-ending despair, postpartum depression is treatable.

The postpartum period may be difficult for new moms but it is even more so for those experiencing depression. Feelings of guilt often increase when a depressed mother cannot connect with her child. In our society people have a tendency of sharing their own blessed moments of new motherhood or preaching the new mother on how to care for the baby. Whilst doing this, they overlook or rather they do not comprehend that she might be feeling emotions other than pure joy and happiness.

Many of us are probably planning a nice lunch or dinner for our mothers or buying nice gifts.

There is no denying that the postpartum period is still a time to be enjoyed and cherished. Seeking help from a counselor and talking about your feelings can help you live these precious moments with your baby and family. Research has shown that seeking treatment greatly diminishes the negative impact of postpartum depression on the newborn child, it may even completely eliminate these effects.

Read more: 11 Characteristics of a Happy and Healthy Relationship

Sometimes it is difficult for one to realize that they are experiencing postpartum depression and other times one might not even realize it. Here, it is important for the spouse and other close relatives of the new mother to help her as well. If a husband observes that his wife is experiencing depression, he should try and support her and encourage her to seek counseling. A mother does not go through postpartum depression alone, it affects her, the child and the husband.

It is important to note that new fathers may also experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Studies have posited that fathers with a history of depression, young fathers and fathers with financial difficulties are at a higher risk of suffering depression. If a father is experiencing such feelings, he too should seek help.

Counseling is encouraged in such cases as the process is unbiased and focused on you. No counselor will judge or think negatively about you if you talk about not bonding with your child. On the contrary, sharing your feelings with a professional can help you make positive changes in your life and eventually overcome this depression and be able to form a healthy attachment with your child.

Falak Zehra Mohsin is a Psychologist and also teaches at IBA in Karachi. Falak tweets at @Falak_Z_M. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.