After women go into labour and have her baby, about 80% of them suffer from the “Baby Blues”, which typically occurs from the third day to the tenth day after the birth. Normally, this sensibility is transitory and only lasts a couple of days (one or two); keep in mind that it is not the same as postnatal depression (PND). Postnatal depression is more severe and approximately one of seven to ten mothers suffer from it.
PND is a dysthymic state that takes place within twelve months after a woman has her baby, and generally, it is more frequent in the first weeks or months. Some women can enter into PND at a slow and gradual phase, while others feel it all at once. The symptoms are varied with different stages of intensity; some of them are moderate and momentary, but some symptoms can become severe and chronic. Usually, the majority of mothers overcome it easily, but there is a percentage of them that must seek medical and experienced assistance.
PND appears most frequently after a mother’s firstborn child. However, pregnant women can also feel depression; it is known as antenatal depression in this timeframe. Antenatal and postnatal depression form collectively an entity called perinatal depression.
Antenatal and postnatal depression cause a variety of symptoms, such as the struggle to fall asleep, panic episodes, mood swings, lack of confidence, and perception of guilt and inadequacy. The intensity of the symptoms is determined by the severity of each case. It is also possible that the spouses develop depression during the pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.
A woman who suffers from PND can isolate herself from the world, including her spouse and child, since the weight of having a child and PND produces a lot of mental pressure on her marriage and relationships. For this reason, family (including her spouse) and friends must aid and support her immensely so she is able to rediscover herself. This way, it is more likely that she will recover faster from PND.
Postnatal Depression Symptoms
The following symptoms can be present in a woman who suffers from PND and can be conditioned by how severe the case of depression in each individual such as: struggle to fall asleep or modifications in her sleeping habits, loss of confidence and self-respect, annoyance and melancholy, and an inability to overcome stress.
Some other common symptoms are a sensation of culpability and ineptitude, having a pessimistic state, frequent anxiety episodes, lack of hunger, feeling worthless, lack of sexual desire, and an inability to recall information.
PND Risk Factors
There are no scientific explanations that specifically pinpoint the origin of PND, however, studies have shown some risk factor linked to PND, such as:
- Corporal adjustment: Giving birth must be an impactful occurrence in a woman’s physique, whether it was a simple or complicated pregnancy. Upon having a child, there is a hormonal imbalance that causes the release of certain compounds, known as neurotransmitters, that affect the brain. If you add the restless nights and continuous tiredness, all of these can lead to depression.
- Mental health: No one is truly prepared to become a parent and this feeling can be overwhelming, especially of a mother. She must prioritize her child’s necessities over her own, while still maintaining a healthy relationship with her spouse. Most women feel bound to their children and think they lost who they were before. Take into consideration that the mother is stilling recuperating from giving birth and this toll can be too paralyzing.
- Society’s perception: Standards of motherhood place a lot of pressure and turmoil on new mothers, telling how they must act and feel so they can be “perfect”. This causes some mothers to lose communication with friends and family as they must try to adapt to this new lifestyle.
The Mother and Her Baby
A mother with PND can restrain herself from anyone, even her child. Badly informed people may say that the mother-child connection starts within the first days or weeks, but they are mistaken. This connection develops as time goes by; thus, she will be able to reconnect with her baby once the depression is over. The mother will feel an array of feelings and emotions that will make everything worthwhile. Therefore, as she tries to overcome it, family and friends must aid her.
Spouses with PND
Studies have shown that one out of ten fathers develops paternal depression. Some risk factors that contribute to paternal depression are advanced age, being a first-time parent, poor education, a family history of psychiatric ailments, a bad relationship with the spouse, bad health, and deficient family support.
PND and Family Relationships
Family members play a crucial role in the recovery of a mother with PND, therefore they must support her, including her spouse.
PND and her Spouse
PND causes a lot of pressure in personal relationships and some partners believed that their relationship is too damaged, even when the spouse devotes his/her attention to her. Normally, most relationships and/or marriages improve and normalize once the depression is over. Thus, it is advised to inform yourself about PND, learn to manage stress, and dedicate time to your marriage. In any relationship, communication is key, therefore it is okay to ask for assistance when need and try to avoid personal critiques or attacks. Remember that you were a couple before being parents.
How to Support your Partner with PND?
If your spouse is presenting PND, try to be more attentive and allow her to speak about her thoughts and emotions. It is wise to avoid fights and ask your family members for help when needed. It is important to show your love to your spouse frequently and do not take anything she says to heart. You can also support her by developing a connection with the baby and sharing duties. If she is not comfortable, do not bring guests. It is okay to ask for experienced assistance if you feel concerned.
Self-help for PND
If you are going through PND, it would be best to dedicate time to yourself, find new hobbies to distract yourself and seek help from friends if necessary.