POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION


What is postpartum depression?

Once your baby is born, many things change. It is a period of adjustment that parents are faced with, and it can be very distressing to both new and existing moms. Postpartum depression, often called ‘baby blues', is experienced by many mothers in the first few days after giving birth. Learning to balance care for yourself and your little one takes time to adjust. No matter how much you have looked forward to meeting your little one and how much you love him or her, feelings of anxiety, depression, shame and guilt are all associated with postpartum depression. It is important to understand that this is not your fault and is a perfectly natural response to the stresses that come with motherhood. A support structure can do wonders in easing the overwhelming and exhausting changes in your life, however, when symptoms get worse or remain for weeks, seeking professional help can have a big impact on your wellbeing, your child's development and the relationship between you and your child.

Why does it happen?

The causes of postpartum depression are usually a combination of various factors, the hormonal changes being the largest causing factor. After the birth of your baby, the drop in oestrogen can affect mood and bring feelings of depression, sadness and anxiety. While some moms experience these symptoms for a week after birth, others can be plagued with this burden for up to 12 months before their hormones realign.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Sadness, weepiness, irritability, mood swings and anxiety are all common symptoms of postpartum depression. The following symptoms are also known to burden new moms:

  • Difficulty concentrating or completing routine tasks
  • Loss of appetite or interest in food
  • The feeling of being a bad mother
  • Lack of interest in her baby or anxiety about the baby's health
  • Feelings of no hope and overwhelming feelings about her situation

In some cases, these symptoms may become so overwhelming that new mothers feel the urge to leave their family, self-harm or harm their baby due to the feeling that they have failed as a mother and partner.

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Many mothers feel ashamed that they feel this way as they thought the birth of their baby would bring joy. Due to this, many moms feel that they cannot admit how they are feeling and are reluctant to seek help. Dr Mhlane stresses the importance of revealing these feelings and seeking professional help as postpartum depression may not only have an effect on you but on the future of your child as well.

Why should I seek professional help from Dr Mhlane?

While many moms expected motherhood to be blissful, taking care of their little is often more overwhelming than expected. Weepiness, anxiety and exhaustion may not have been something you expected, but postpartum depression is a perfectly normal phase that many mothers go through, some worse than others.

Feelings of discouragement, guilt, shame and general anxiety may be felt after the birth of your baby, and as normal as they are, seeking professional help is vital for your wellbeing as a woman, for the development of your child and your relationship with your little one.

It is vital to see a psychiatrist for postpartum depression and its symptoms as they may have a lasting effect on the emotional development of your child.

Bonding with your baby is an essential part of positive development, it allows them to feel secure enough to develop and form functional relationships with others for the rest of their life. Depression could affect the ability of a new mom to bond with her baby, in the long term this may hinder your child's emotional development of trust, empathy and compassion.

Therapy, antidepressants, hormone replacements or a combination of these treatments can aid those struggling with postpartum depression, make a huge difference in mental wellbeing and provide new moms with a positive outlook on motherhood. Dr Mhlane offers a safe and supportive space to share your feelings and can assist with relief of postpartum depression symptoms.

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