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.
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