I just read about a 35-year-old nursing mother who committed suicide few hours after dedicating her 3-months-old baby. The only reasonable explanation for such an act is Postpartum Depression, also known as postnatal depression. According to the report, the woman’s husband noticed the signs of depression but it never occurred to him that she could take her life.
I was saddened by the news, so I decided to write this post to raise awareness, especially among the African community.
About 80% of new moms experience the “baby blues” in the first couple of weeks after childbirth, which are caused by hormonal changes that takes place in a woman’s body after the birth of a child. Symptoms include irritability, crying spells, mood swings, trouble sleeping and sadness. These conditions are generally not serious and fades away quickly.
However, some moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of these feelings known as Postpartum Depression. In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier, it can also result in feeling of guilt or shame, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of joy, and difficulty bonding with the baby. It is usually treated by counseling and medication, but exercising, eating well, and getting enough rest can also help.
In rare cases, a woman may experience a severe form of depression known as Postpartum Psychosis. This condition is characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, irrational thoughts, and being a danger to oneself and the baby. This is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention because it can get worse and put the mother or others in danger.
It is important to understand that Postpartum Depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. These changes can be caused by hormonal changes that occur after pregnancy. Any woman can get postpartum depression in the months after childbirth, stillbirth, or miscarriage.
Partners, friends, and family – your support during the first few months after pregnancy will go a long way to reduce the occurrence of Postpartum Depression.
Share Your Thoughts
Do you know anyone who has experienced Postpartum Depression? Please describe the experience and share tips on how to deal with the condition.