Understanding postnatal depression and how to combat it

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Understanding postnatal depression and how to combat it

postpartum depression affects around 1 in 7 women/ Photo By serezniy via 123RF


Pregnancy is a very wonderful experience for every mother. It brings life and joy through the newly born baby and it could be their chance to have a family. However, pregnancy can also let the body and mind go through many changes during and after pregnancy.


Becoming a parent triggers an array of emotions, from joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. Baby blues are fairly common among new moms. Postpartum depression affects around 1 in 7 women. It can have an adverse effect on the well-being of both the mother and child, yet 1 in 5 women keep quiet about their symptoms and therefore remain untreated.


Postpartum depression, also called postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Postpartum means the time after childbirth and most women get “baby blues,” or the feeling of sadness or emptiness, within a few days of giving birth.

Baby Blues

For many women, baby blues go away in 3 to 5 days. However, if it doesn't go away or when the mother still feels sad, hopeless, or empty for longer than 2 weeks, they may already have a postpartum depression. It is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects behavior and physical health. The mother might feel disconnected from her baby, and as for the father who experiences postpartum, they might not love or care for the baby.


After childbirth, the levels of hormones in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.


According to a web post by Parents, Postpartum depression could be different for every individual, and the symptoms of it could also vary from one mother to another. The web post also added that if the mother displays any of the three symptoms of postpartum depression, she should immediately contact a mental health expert in order to give them adequate counseling, medication, and provide them with support which could be very helpful in fighting off their depression.


Postnatal depression, linked with sunlight

Psych Central recently reported that there is a new research study where they found out that daylight could have an effect on women who just gave birth. Researchers found out that there is a relationship between the natural light and the feeling of depression that most people experience nowadays. Carried out by researchers at San Jose State University and the University of California, San Francisco and published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, the new study looked at 293 women who were all first-time mothers.


The researchers gathered data on the amount of daylight that women were exposed to during the final trimester of their pregnancy, along with the information about known risk factors for postpartum depression including a history of depression, age, socioeconomic status and how much she slept.


The lowest risk for depression occurred among women whose final trimester coincided with season with longer daylight hours. Depression scores were highest among women whose final trimester coincided with “short” days and the symptoms continued to be more severe following the birth of their babies in this group of women. In the northern hemisphere, this timeframe refers to the months of August to the first four days of November.


The findings suggest that using light treatment in the late third trimester when seasonal day length is shortening could minimize postpartum depressive symptoms in high-risk mothers during the first three months of their children’s lives. Deepika Goyal, lead author of the study says that women with a history of mental health problems and those who are already experiencing depressive symptoms in the third trimester might further benefit from being outdoors when possible, or when using devices such as light boxes that provide light therapy.

postpartum depression is a treatable psychological disorder/ Photo by belchonock via 123RF


It is okay to reach out

Depression is a serious matter. In a web post by Postpartum.org, they expressed the importance of getting help and having a close attention to the mother’s emotional, mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms. Many health visitors have been trained to recognize postnatal depression and have techniques that can help. Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.


Postpartum depression is a treatable psychological disorder. It can be managed effectively, and it is important to reach out to a health care provider and ask for help. Emotional bonding is the secure attachment that forms between parents and children. Successful bonding allows the child to feel safe enough to develop fully, and having this bond will affect the way in which they communicate and form relationships throughout their life.


Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. Many antidepressants take a few weeks to be the most effective. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her healthcare provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.



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