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Postpartum Depression Awareness Needs Working On

| Updated: March 1, 2022 19:18

According to health experts, postpartum depression is fairly common in India. Nearly 20-25 percent first time mothers are affected and often, due to lack of awareness, it goes undiagnosed and untreated. Women go through a sea change of physical, mental and emotional experiences at childbirth. Mental health needs attention especially at a time, when the new arrival leaves the woman isolated and thrust into a new routine.

The key to better management of the affliction lies in understanding the symptoms and early identification. According to Dr Prathima Reddy from department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sparsh Hospital: “Unfortunately, PPD is not even understood in the Indian context. People do not realise that it actually a hormone-controlled physiological imbalance which triggers the mindset change. One has to take cognizance of the fact that it exists. The important thing is to identify and recognize it.”

Elaborating further, Dr Nimmi Mahajan from “Proactive for Her” shared: “Most symptoms are similar to clinical depression such as constantly feeling sad, angry, hopeless, helpless, tired, irritable, as well as common behavioural changes like facing difficulty falling asleep, sleeping too much, overeating and/or suffering from loss of appetite. Other symptoms also include crying more often than usual, feeling distant from your baby, feeling constantly worried or overly anxious, thoughts about hurting oneself or the baby and doubting your ability to care for the baby.”

Both medics caution on the necessity of educating women about the symptoms of antenatal and postnatal depression. Some women may experience tearfulness for no particular reason, feelings of anxiety, irritation, feeling low or depressed. In extreme cases, some may even have suicidal thoughts. “All this can happen before or after the baby is born. For many women, once the baby comes, they get overwhelmed with issues such as sleeplessness, breastfeeding and physical bodily changes. These factors worsen depression,” explains Dr Nimmi. 

Here’s a ready reckoner from the doctors to manage PPD: 

Do Not Be in Denial: The first step is recognising it. If you feel like you have persistently experienced any of these symptoms especially closer to childbirth, you should consider visiting your OB/GYN or a mental health expert to understand your symptoms better

Postpartum Baby Blues are Different from Depression:  The former is a passing phase whereas depression stays on. The immediate family must report any irregular mood swing/behaviour pattern. There must be willingness to talk about it to a qualified medical professional.

Family Support Is A Must: The new mother must be helped unconditionally by her set up. While she is busy looking after the baby, there must be experienced hands to look after her. A lot of families are hesitant to address the issue because they equate depression with being “disbalanced.” Going through it together lessens the burden on everyone and a happy mother is the key to a happy family unit. 

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