The word ‘postpartum’ (PPD) means following childbirth or the period after delivery.  Postpartum depression means depression triggered after delivery. This may occur at anytime during the first year of childbirth and the symptoms may manifest itself as early as the first few weeks after childbirth. More than 10 million mothers per year are affected by PPD.

Becoming a mother is a humongous change in a woman’s life, physically and emotionally. While also dealing with bodily changes, the responsibility of caring for a new life can be overwhelming.

Enlisted below are a few causes of PPD:

  • Hormone levels are at a constant high during pregnancy. However after childbirth, there is a sudden drop in secretion of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. This can cause depression.
  • Risk of PPD increases if it runs in your family or if you have been through phases of depression.
  • History of substance abuse increases the risk of PPD
  • Little or no support from family or friends
  • Marital or financial problems
  • Stress or anxiety due to changes in one’s life

PPD affects not only first-time mothers but also affects mothers who did not have it when their previous children were born. It affects mothers who have had miscarriages and stillbirths.

Here are a few symptoms of PPD

  • Unable to care for or bond with the new born
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite, fatigue and restlessness
  • Inability to concentrate and perform regular activities
  • Excessive mood variations and crying

PPD is generally self- diagnosable. If you feel you have any symptoms of PPD, see your doctor because prompt treatment can help you cope with PPD. Treatment may include medications like anti-depressants (inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding), counseling or hormone therapy.

Here are some tips on how to manage PPD:

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat well
  • Do things that relaxes you and makes you happy
  • Take some time off, everyday, for yourself
  • Get support for day-to-day activities
  • Talk to your partner and family about your problems and ask for help
  • Remind yourself that you are not alone nor are you a bad parent to feel depressed after childbirth.
  • Set simple targets for yourself everyday and meet them
  • Join a support group and draw strength and confidence from it
  • Surround yourself with people who you can talk to and who care about you

There is nothing to be ashamed of to reach out for help. The sooner you ask for help the sooner you can enjoy motherhood and bond with the bundle of joy that is a part of you.

For those who have friends or family going through this rough patch, be more sensitive and empathetic towards them.