Post Partum Depression is a form of clinical depression that can affect men but primarily affects women following childbirth.
After giving birth, it is normal to feel an overwhelming stream of emotions; among them, happiness, fear, exhaustion, anxiety and stress. To an extent, all of these emotions, commonly referred to as the ‘Baby Blues’ are expected and with time and routine, they do become more bearable. In essence, no treatment is necessary to treat these ‘Blues’.
But what happens when the ‘Blues’ do not dissipate over time as you would expect them to?
Post Partum depression does not always rear its ugly head immediately after birth. Research has shown that it could begin as late as three months to one year after giving birth. Because of this lag, couples cannot always draw a connection between their feelings of depression and recently having had a baby. As a result, it may be difficult to identify post partum depression.
It is of paramount importance that both partners be familiar with the signs. Often the partner experiencing symptoms of post partum depression is not able to recognize that s/he is acting out of sorts. Don’t hide from the symptoms, but rather familiarize yourself with them to avoid them spiraling out of control.
So what are some of the signs to look out for?
Significant lack of interest in your baby/Afraid to be alone with your baby.
Are you slow to react when your baby is crying? Would you rather someone else take care of your baby so you can go to sleep or tend to your own needs? Do you get anxious if you are left alone with your baby for too long? Are you worried about taking inadequate care of your baby?
These behaviours over the long term can significantly affect the level of attachment between you and your baby, thereby increasing the risk of long term cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems for your child.
Loss of ability to carry out the most mundane of tasks.
Does preparing a meal for yourself or your partner feel too overwhelming? Are you experiencing anxiety or panic attacks about things that never affected you before? Does taking a shower or washing the dishes suddenly feel impossible to do?
Social withdrawal/Inability or unwillingness to be around others.
Are you afraid or resistant to have friends over? Are you reluctant to return phone calls or see others in a public place? Even close friends and family members?
Changing patterns in your everyday routines.
Has your appetite changed significantly? Are you experiencing changes in your weight or sleeping patterns? Are you more easily agitated or frustrated to the point where you don’t recognize your own behaviour?
Are you feeling helpless, hopeless, or significantly sadder than normal?
Often hormonal changes post-delivery, coupled with the physical changes which naturally occur when having a baby, including weight gain and breast tenderness, leaves many women insecure about their physical appearance and sexual attractiveness to their partner.
Although post partum depression is a serious condition, when identified early, there is a successful long-term prognoses for most women.
If you suspect that you are suffering from Post Partum depression, speak to your doctor. You know best if something is off, or if you are not feeling quite right.
You have to be your own advocate.
Seek out the help you need either by taking anti-depressant medication, or by receiving counseling from a mental health professional to help you feel like yourself again.
Have you experienced the symptoms of post partum depression? How did you manage the symptoms? Do you have any other questions about risk factors or treatment? I'd love to hear from you.
Infertility is often the first major life-crisis a couple faces together.
Along with infertility come feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, sadness, guilt, and loneliness. Many couples do not seek out the support they need from their family or each other, out of fear they will be judged, pitied or pressured.
The uncertainty about the success of fertility treatment, the grief associated with a male or female factor diagnosis, sexual performance pressure, feelings of loss of control, and financial strain, all significantly impact couples who have been diagnosed as infertile and/or who might be considering infertility treatment.
The impact that fertility treatment has on our emotional health and wellbeing – both individually and as a couple – is often overlooked. There are no guarantees of a baby at the end of the road for couples despite investing significant time, money and emotion in this process.
So how can couples cope with the pressure of infertility?
1. Develop a fertility plan
It is impossible to live in limbo indefinitely.
As a couple, decide on the amount of cycles you can afford and how long you are prepared to undergo these treatments.
With an outlined plan, you set clear goals and are able to regain control of your lives, your decisions and your bodies. This helps ensure that no regrets and resentment will result between you as a couple.
2. Have unscheduled sex
Although extremely difficult to do, try to have as normal a sex life as possible.
While it is important to follow your doctor’s schedule, give priority to sex at other times during the month where conception is not the goal.
3. Nurture your relationship
While this is easier said than done, try not to let the stress of conceiving interfere with the relationship you have.
Relationships serve many purposes including companionship, emotional support, and sharing interests. Keep in mind that being in a relationship is not only for the purpose of reproduction, and continue to enjoy each other so that you’ll remember why you decided to have a baby together in the first place.
4. Be prepared for social situations
Determine together what information is or isn’t going to be shared with friends and family.
Often, suggesting there is a problem is sufficient at keeping away such question as ‘so…when are you going to have a baby?’
Divulging too much information can be an invasion of privacy for some couples.
5. Grieve along the way
Allow yourselves the time and opportunity to grieve if a treatment is unsuccessful or if you have experienced a loss such as a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
It is a loss and it hurts.
Don’t let others try to convince you otherwise.
Take the time to feel the loss, cry, share with one another, and move on when you as a couple determine that you are ready. Not when others decide you should be ready.
6. When it’s time, seek professional help
If you’re having trouble coping with your feelings, and the roller-coaster of emotions, it’s wise to speak to a mental health professional.
Speaking with someone objective can help you as a couple learn techniques to overcome grief, manage your anxieties, keep your relationship intact, as well as provide you with information of what to expect when you undergo procedures at the clinic.
Truth be told, there is no easy way to manage the stress that accompanies infertility.
Often this stress is all encompassing and nothing else in your world seems to matter.
But remember, there are certainly ways you can learn to cope. One step at a time, GRAB THE BULL BY THE HORNS and take back control of your emotions and your lives.
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