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What is post natal depression?
What are the causes?
What are the symptoms?
How to cope with the blues or depression?
What is the treatment?
 
Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00 +0530
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
Checked by :
 
  • What is post natal depression?
    Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00
    Many new mothers sometimes experience mild depression called ” baby blues”. It is very common, affecting an estimated 50 to 75 percent of all new mothers. Baby blues usually appear in the first few days after delivery, and may last only a few days or for a few weeks.
  • What are the causes?
    Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00
  • Hormonal changes may be one cause of baby blues. After delivery, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop. The mother experiences a similar change during PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
  • Exhaustion from strenuous labour, too little sleep, painful stitches, sore nipples, often give the feeling that she will not be able to cope with motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it.
  • Unhappiness over her looks
  • A sense of loss about her past life that was carefree and career-oriented
  • Baby blues can be worsened by pain after labour, exhaustion and the overwhelming responsibility of a new baby.
  • What are the symptoms?
    Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00
    New mothers with baby blues often feel frustrated, unworthy, angry, or lonely. They may often cry or be irritable. They may have frequent mood changes and difficulty in sleeping. Other symptoms include:
    • Constant fatigue
    • Lack of joy in life
    • A sense of emotional numbness or feeling trapped
    • Withdrawal from family and friends
    • Lack of concern for herself or her baby
    • Severe insomnia
    • Excessive concern for the baby
    • Loss of sexual interest or responsiveness
    • A strong sense of failure and inadequacy
    • Severe mood swings
    • High expectations and an overdemanding attitude
  • How to cope with the blues or depression?
    Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00
    In addition to accepting mild depression as a normal part of childbirth, the mother needs to take special care of herself, including:
    • Taking adequate rest.
    • Eating a nutritious diet.
    • Exercising in moderation.
    • Having a social support system.
    Trying a nap during the day when the baby is asleep helps. Adequate rest has a major impact on her emotional and physical well being. Babies need well-rested parents to care for them. Accepting assistance from others is sometimes difficult, but she may need to do so to maintain a positive and realistic emotional perspective.

    Good nutrition helps the body recover from childbirth. A few small meals a day may be more manageable than three larger meals. Choosing healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables help in weight control.
    Light exercise can also be helpful, like taking a brisk walk at a pace that slightly elevates her heart rate. Stretching and flexing while playing and talking to the baby will help tone her muscles and the mood may improve as the body starts feeling better.

    As with pregnancy and delivery, a strong social support system is valuable. The fatigue, emotional upheaval and interruptions a new baby brings can strain even the best of relationships. After the baby's birth, the partner may feel left out since all the energy is focused on caring for the baby.

    Having easily handled family and work obligations in the past, she may now feel incompetent and overwhelmed with the new responsibilities. Being patient during this transition greatly helps.
  • What is the treatment?
    Fri,22 Mar 2002 05:30:00
    It is advisable not to struggle all alone. Once the condition is suspected she must talk to someone whom she can trust. Medical help and guidance can be reassuring that there are many others in the same situation. Depending on the nature and severity of the problem, medication by the doctor may help. Early intervention can lead to a more rapid recovery. Treatment varies according to individual needs, it may include:
    • Counselling
    • Antidepressant medication
    • Hormone therapy
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