When you become a mother for the first time you hear about breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding, which type of diapers to use, and even the best creams for a rash when baby’s bottom breaks out. But one topic that I have never heard in conversation that may be due to the stigma still associated with depression is how to handle post partum depression, if (and when) it should strike.
More than 13 percent of women will experience post partum depression after childbirth. Women who have ever experienced a depressive episode prior to becoming a mother are at higher risk than females who have not.
The emotions are one of the confusing aspects of PPD’s aspects. For example, the first time I became a mother and held my son in my arms I cried tears of joy. How confusing it felt to cry tears of sadness without explanation a few weeks later.
Beyond tears other symptoms similar to clinical depression can manifest. A woman may feel a loss of interest in grooming, difficulty sleeping, a loss of self worth, thoughts of suicide, anger, and even no desire to eat. Of course, most mothers are so busy tending to the needs of their newborn, it’s hard to know which woman is experiencing depression or not. This is why it’s so important for family members to work closely with a new mom, and help encourage her to share her emotions openly, free of judgment.
Obstetricians can diagnose post partum depression as early as 6 week after a baby’s birth. However, in the event that a diagnosis is made, the symptoms can last longer than a year and require medication and counseling to treat the disorder. For mothers who are breastfeeding, medications can be limited and other activities can be encouraged such as taking a daily walk, hiring or asking family to help out during the day to catch a nap, or bring meals until a new routine gets established.