by: Steven Chang
Over the years, numerous tragic stories have been in the news as a result of postpartum depression. Last year, it has even prompted the U.S. House of Representatives, to authorize spending $3 million aimed at awareness and further research. Postpartum depression (PPD) is actually a form of mood disorder that begins after childbirth and may last beyond six weeks and even up to a year. It affects about 15% of all childbearing women regardless of the number of pregnancies she has had.
Women with PPD, go through various stages of anxiety, especially with the added responsibility of caring for a newborn. In extreme cases where women are not able to seek help, they end up committing crimes or worse, they commit suicide. PPD is a very serious condition and it needs to be addressed the soonest time possible.
Symptoms of PPD may vary but feelings of guilt, sadness and depression are common. Lack of energy or inability to sleep also affects women suffering from the condition. As far as eating habits are concerned, women with PPD tend to either eat so little or eat too much. This may lead to excessive weight loss or weight gain. Aside from that they may lose interest in the baby, and may have thoughts of hurting them as well. Others have anxiety or panic attacks and for severe cases, they have suicidal ideation.
Because the symptoms vary from mild to severe, it is important to recognize the need to reach out for help. Many women have not been able to control it in the early stages, because they felt embarrassed to ask for help. Reaching out is actually a vital step in the treatment of PPD. Here are helpful ways to cope:
1. Eat properly. If you have problems with your appetite, you can have small frequent feedings to provide you adequate nutrients throughout the day.
2. Start exercising. Mild exercises like walking can be done for thirty minutes a day, and at least three times a week. Studies have shown that exercise can improve overall well being.
3. Take extra time to rest. If you are burned out from your chores, learn to delegate to other members of the family. An extra pair of hands will allow you more time to catch up on much needed sleep. Lack of sleep would only exacerbate symptoms of depression.
4. If needed, get counseling. This will allow you to cope with the stresses and conflicts in your life that may be affecting your mood.
5. Be open and talk to your partner. Share your worries and concerns. This is the best time for you to feel that you are reassured and loved. If you are alone, you don’t have to go through it by yourself. Talk to close friends and other family members, they may help ease your fears and anxiety.
6. Socialize. It’s important that you get in touch with the outside world too. Enclosing yourself only allows you to dwell more in your misery.
7. Join a support group. Numerous resources and groups online can provide you a lot of information and much needed support. You are not going through this alone, a lot of people are.
8. It is important to recognize that the road to recovery takes time. Do not give up if you still have bad days. It’s always a process and gradually your mood will improve with proper treatment.
9. Seek medical help. For severe cases, treatment is necessary and your doctor will probably prescribe you medications. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to inform your doctor so he will prescribe safe medications for you.
These are only a few steps to cope with postpartum depression. Many lives are affected every year because of PPD, but it is most important to realize that, you don’t ever have to go through it alone.