What many individuals fail to understand is that postpartum is as real as climate change, yet it is one of the most serious and common mental health issues that is ignored. People think that it will get over with time, but not without getting help.
Postpartum is a form of depression mothers get, also referred to as ‘baby blues’. In this condition, a mother is juggling anxiety, fear, expectations, and many other powerful emotions and factors.
What women must first understand is postpartum is NOT their fault, it is NOT something that is in their control, hence the feelings of negativity is NOT something they are responsible for, however, they MUST get help and support to get by this phase.
Postpartum is a result of childbirth, prompt treatment can help moms manage their symptoms. If the symptoms are ignored and they become severe, eventually lives can be at risk.
A woman suffering from postpartum will feel anxious, have difficulty sleeping, will have mood swings, and often have negative feelings towards the child. Lack of sleep and difficulties following the condition can last from a couple of days to weeks.
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Trouble sleeping
If the postpartum is not treated and it becomes depressive the symptoms become worse.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms may last longer.
If treatment is still not received, then the mother is very likely to get postpartum psychosis which is a more severe state of mental health.
Postpartum Psychosis Symptoms
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy and agitation
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Postpartum in Fathers
On the other hand, it is extremely important to understand that mothers are not the only ones who can be victims of postpartum, fathers also experience this phenomenon.
Reportedly, dads may feel sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns ― the same symptoms mothers with postpartum depression experience.
Fathers who are young, have a history of depression, experience relationship problems or are struggling financially are most at risk of postpartum depression.
Mothers and fathers are likely to develop this mental state if:
- There’s a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
- Have bipolar disorder
- Had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
- Have family members who’ve had depression or other mood disorders
- Experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
- Baby has health problems or other special needs
- Have twins, triplets or other multiple births
- Have difficulty breast-feeding
- Having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
- Weak support system
- Financial problems
- Pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
In 2020, a multi-centre, cross-sectional study was conducted at three major tertiary care setups in Sindh, Pakistan. All women presenting to the outpatient department within six weeks of giving live birth were eligible to participate. All women who had stillbirths, abortions, or were treated for a past psychiatric illness or neurological disease were excluded from the study.
A total of 357 participants were enrolled in the study. The mean age (standard deviation) was 26.18 (5.53) years and ranged between 14 to 50 years. Three hundred forty-six (96.9%) women were Muslim while only a minority were non-muslims. Over 100 women did not receive any formal education, constituting the majority of the study population (table 1). Out of the 69 women who had postpartum depression, nine (13.1%) had a substance abuse problem. The majority were addicted to areca nuts.
According to the Edinburgh postpartum depression scale (EPDS), the incidence of postpartum depression in the current study population was 19.3%. Of these, 12 (3.3%) women had persistently thought about self-harming. Over 100 women did not receive any formal education, constituting the majority of the study population. Formula milk feeding of the newborn was significantly associated with an increased frequency of postpartum depression (p= 0.0001).
With inflation on the rise, affording to bring a child and caring for it has become highly difficult for both genders. Furthermore, young adults are so focused on making a livelihood and their careers while completing their duties at home, that they are not able to take out time for themselves, which adds to the problem.
Hence, we encourage all men and women who are expecting to visit an expert. Couples should consider contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and if any of these symptoms are visible in someone you know, reach out to them and offer help.
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