Post-partum depression: A life threatening condition.
There is a taboo, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world, in discussing depression or any other mental disorder. It is okay to be broken physically. Matter of fact, broken bones, wheelchairs and visible physical diseases generate sympathy from all of us. But a broken brain? The sympathy turns to judgement, ridicule, and contempt. I am not about to discuss the nature of the human mind and its erroneous interpretation of diseases. I simply bring this topic up to paint the background in which post-partum depression, or any depression, exists.
Let me start by defining post-partum depression. There are many ways to express the definition. But I will highlight a few things. It is a MOOD disorder that affect women after childbirth. Mothers suffering from it have feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. These feelings can range from mild to extreme, and can affect her abilities to care for herself, her children, her household, all the way to the extremes of self-harm and suicide. The reasons why some women get it and some don’t may not be fully understood. We do know it is a combination of genetics, emotional, and physical factors. The combination of hormonal changes after delivery and the lack of sleep and rest causes the emotional exhaustion and mood disorders. Some women who have depression or bipolar disorder, or who have a family history of these disorders maybe at a higher risk. A traumatic event that happens shortly before or immediately after delivery, medical complications during delivery, and lack of emotional support from the spouse can all predispose women for it. Some of the most common symptoms include: Feeling sad, overwhelmed, or empty. Moms usually find themselves crying more than usual, feeling like PMS symptoms but worse, having trouble focusing, concentrating, or remembering things. Women would have no interest in things that were enjoyable before, having difficulty bonding or creating an attachment to the new baby, and thinking about harming herself or the baby.
There are several other symptoms, and these are some of the most important ones. It usually starts within one week after delivery till about a month. Sometimes it can take longer than that. It affects around 15 % of women. The question is not whether you have it, it is what can be done with it. The first thing you need to understand is that as a mother with post-partum depression, you will need all the support you can get. This can be very tricky and that is why I started the conversation with the taboo and stigma of mental disorders. Sometimes, it is very difficult for husbands and family members to understand what you are going through. Sometimes, instead of helping you, they pressure you with expectations, anger, and frustration. On top of you feeling as a horrible person when it comes to be a mother, they add insult to injury.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, please please seek help. If you take nothing from this article, take that you need to seek help. Some women are blessed with a wonderful supporting cast. Even those need all the help and support they can get. Postpartum depression is a very serious disease. The whole family, immediate that is, needs to understand it and be aware of it. They all need to understand that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Most of all, you need to understand that. You may need to seek professional help, which I encourage and empower you to do so. You will need to elicit the support of your husband and other children if they are grown enough.
Treating post-partum depression can be done through therapy and counseling or sometimes through medications. It all starts with recognizing the symptoms and asking the professional. In some cases, like this one, it is better to be over cautious than to ignore it. This kind of depression can last months, or years and it can trigger many events in your life that are unwanted. I have always talked about how you need to be the center of you. This can be a life or death situation. Let the ones who need to support you know. And listen to them if they see things in you and point things out. Seek help and support. Your family needs you.