The Challenges of Postpartum Depression

Being pregnant can be one of the most happiest moments in life that a woman could ever have. It is a time for new beginnings, a time of change, a season of growth for her and the entire family. Pregnancy and the sweet anticipation of having a baby can really help improve the family’s relationship. The wait for the arrival of the new baby puts the entire family in a good mood of expectation. In the process, the family members feel closer to one another.

During this trying stage of a woman, she constantly feels and experiences different thoughts and feelings about her pregnancy and her baby. Sometimes, she can feel good and bright about life. On some days, she can be so depressed and irritable. This sudden shift of feelings can be considered normal for other women, but it can be disturbing not only on the part of the new mothe but also to the rest of the family if these episodes of sadness go on for long periods of time.

After giving birth, a woman can experience a thousand thoughts about the baby, whether good or bad. This is what others call the “baby blues” — a point in a woman’s life, usually right after childbirth, when she feels heightened emotions concerning their baby. This state can be felt by the woman three to five days after delivery and can last for up to two more weeks, or perhaps even longer. At this point, the woman experiencing “baby blues” may cry more easily than usual, may have trouble falling asleep or can feel irritable, or she can be so sad and always “on the edge” emotionally. Since “baby blues” are experienced is very common and is almost always expected of every first-time mother, it is generally not considered to be an illness. In most cases, the depression does not interfere with the woman’s ability to care for her baby.

However, some women may experience these heightened state of emotions by having postpartum depression, a type of depression that also occurs after childbirth. Also called postpartum non-psychotic depression, this condition affects about ten to twenty percent of women, mostly within a few months of delivery. If a woman is experiencing postpartum depression, she may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
l depressed mood
l easily provoked to tears
l have trouble falling asleep
l poor appetite
l failure to enjoy pleasurable activities
l feelings of inadequacy as a parent
l impaired concentration
l suicidal thoughts.

These symptoms can be seen in a woman if she acts differently towards herself and her baby as well. Having this type of depression includes risk factors such as previous major depression, psychosocial stress, previous premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and inadequate social support.

If a woman has postpartum depression, they may worry a lot when it comes to their baby, particularly regarding the baby’s health and well-being. On very rare cases, women with this form of severe depression may harbor negative and harmful thoughts about their baby. This type of depression can interfere with the woman’s ability to take care of the baby, and it can even come to a point where suicidal thoughts occur.

A big part of preventive care for postpartum depression entails becoming fully informed about the risk factors and effects of pregnancy and childbirth. Regular consultation with the obstetrician-gynecologist would also allow the new mother to get information about the numerous physical, chemical or hormonal changes that will come as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.

Doctors will always play a key role in identifying and treating this type of depression. Women should be screened by their physician to determine if they are at risk for acquiring postpartum depression, since this can give them a chance to prepare themselves for their childbirth at the physical, emotional, and mental levels.