According to some people, you can only feel the essence of being a woman when you experienced becoming pregnant and being a mother. Somehow, it’s true. Pregnancy is one of the most exciting (and rewarding) times in a woman’s life. However, behind that wonderful feeling of having a life inside your womb can be something crucial to pay attention. It can be also a moment when mayhem can happen. Because not every woman handles pregnancy the same, same way…
Perinatal Depression: The Silent Wrecker
You might be familiar already with the common things pregnant women came through – morning sickness, mood swings, cravings, etc. For some women, there could be more.
According to some experts, the combination of biological and emotional factors may lead to depression. During pregnancy, there is a dramatic change in hormones and that affects not only physical but emotional aspects of woman’s life. Perinatal depression is the combination of the prenatal and postpartum depression. To better understand, let’s analyze each one.
During pregnancy, a woman’s levels of estrogen and progesterone rise dramatically. This bodily change is needed to assist the expansion of the uterus and to help nourish the placenta. Prenatal depression can be triggered by the usual experiences of pregnant women specifically mood swings and the significant body adjustments.
Postpartum depression happens in new mothers after the birth of a child—may be more familiar, but mood disorders during the pregnancy itself are more common in expectant mothers. Because hormones in the body are more related to moods, experts believe that ‘postpartum hormonal crash’ leads to baby blues and makes women more at risk of postpartum depression.
Signs of Postnatal Anxiety and Depression
Here are some signs of postnatal depression and anxiety you should be watchful. Once these signs are recognized, assistance for the mother will be easier to find.
- Lowered confidence and self-esteem (cab be due to change in body size, etc.)
- Panic attacks (can include palpitations, shortness of breath, etc.)
- Feeling ‘detached’ to her environment
- Worry and fear for the baby and her health
- Loss of concentration
- Memory issues
- Heightened sensitivity to noise and even touch
- Sudden change in appetite
- Evidences of obsessive compulsive disorder behaviors
- Difficulty in sleeping which is not related to the baby’s needs
- Frequent crying and obvious sadness
- Being afraid of being alone with baby
- Thoughts of hurting the baby or herself
- Suicidal thoughts
- Easily angers
- Drugs and alcohol use
- Loss of interest in sex
The sad thing about postnatal depression is that it has the chance of recurrence with a succeeding pregnancy. Once you have experience postnatal depression on the previous pregnancy, it’s best if you’ll delay another pregnancy so you can prepare yourself for the next one.
Perinatal Depression: the Things you should Know
Even the experts say that the exact cause of perinatal depression is still unknown. However, the major risk factors can include the following: depression during pregnancy, bad marital relationship, history of mental illness, lack of support from friends, stress, and poverty issues.
Risk Factors (Psychological)
- Sexual abuse
- Limited social contact with friends and family members
- Stress (may include marital and financial issues)
- Lack of sleep
- Being pregnant on a very young age
- Pressure (worry on taking care of the baby)
- Complications from labor and delivery
Risk Factors (Biological)
- Family history of depression and other mental disorders
- Perinatal depression with previous pregnancies
- History of premenstrual syndrome and mood swings
- Depression related to use of contraceptive methods
Treatments for Perinatal Depression
According to Mayo Clinic, there are treatments that can help and ease depression during and after pregnancy.
For Baby Blues
For new mothers, here’s good news. The baby blues usually disappear after a few days to 1 to 2 weeks. However, you can do the following if you are suffering from ‘baby blues’.
- Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol intake
- Make sure to create time to take care of yourself
- Connect with other moms to get ideas and ask help
- Appreciate help from the people around you
- Make sure to have enough rest
Treatments for postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is often remedied with psychotherapy – done by a talking and counseling-, and antidepressants. Just make sure to consult a medical professional before getting any treatment.
When properly treated, postpartum depression usually fades away within six months. When taken for granted, it can last longer and lead to chronic depression. Proper attention and right medication must be appropriately administered.
How can you help?
Family members and friends can help to those mothers who are experiencing depression. The love and support can help treat perinatal depression. Make sure to do the following:
Care instead of criticizing. There’s no point of criticizing because it will just worsen the issue. Family members and friends must show care and make them feel that they are loved.
Learn to listen. Mothers suffering from perinatal depression must feel that they are not alone. It will be a great comfort for them when they have someone to lean on and who can listen to her sentiments.
Give her space. Becoming a mother is tedious and the so many activities and chores attributed to it can make her mind and body exhausted. Give her some time to rest and enjoy ‘me’ time. That can make her relaxed and think better.
Offer emotional help. Once signs of perinatal depression is observed, offer emotional help. Make them feel that they can rely on your helping hands, that they are not alone in the journey of parenthood.
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