The Painful Case of Postpartum Depression, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Bindiya shares her story of postpartum depression. A mental health issue that affects 10 million women each year.
“We had been trying for a baby for 12 years. After 3 failed IVF treatments we were finally able to conceive. Jay and I were on cloud 9 and we felt so blessed. I don’t understand what happened after Nisha was born. I could not feel anything. I hated myself every time Nisha would cry and I was not able to comfort her”
Recent studies have found that postpartum depression is not only a women’s health concern but men can experience it as well. A recent study found that postpartum depression affects 25% of men.
The prevalence of Postpartum depression is alarming and it is shown to have harmful effects on both the parents as well as the child. Women who suffer from postpartum depression are likely to develop clinical depression if not noticed and treated on time.
Bindiya’s depression was labelled as ‘mood swings’ and neglected for a very long time until its impact was seen in her marriage, personal hygiene and baby’s health.
“At first I thought that these feelings would go away. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I could not say it to anyone. I kept it all to myself and suffered from inside. Most days I could just not stop crying. I would hide in the bathroom and cry there. This lasted for more than 12 weeks”
Postpartum depression is very different from experiencing baby blues. Baby blues last only for 2-4 days and go away easily on their own. The symptoms of Postpartum depression are severe and intense and require therapy treatment.
Baby blues are pretty common and generally come because of hormonal fluctuations, changes in lifestyle, sleep deprivation. On the other hand PPD occurs due to several reasons and involves risk factors such as:
- A history of mental health issues prior to pregnancy or a family history of mental disorders
- Lack of emotional, physical and financial support
- Sudden and unplanned pregnancy
- Giving birth to twins or triplets or child with special needs
Understanding the risk factors can be an effective preventative measure against Postpartum Depression.
“I wish somebody would tell me what was happening to me. In my mind I was convinced that I was going crazy. My in-laws believed that I was under the influence of negative energies”
The lack of awareness around mental health paints a grim reality. Bindiya is not the only one who has suffered due to the deeply rooted stigma, stereotypes and superstitions about mental health
60% of women who struggle with PPD do not receive timely therapeutic intervention which only leads to major health issues for the mothers as well as the child.
Timely help is possible only when there is adequate awareness about the signs of symptoms of Postpartum Depression. Some of the common and major signs include:
- Intense feelings of sadness or depressed moods
- Finding it difficult to bond or take care of the baby
- Feelings of guilt, shame of not being a ‘good mother’
- Excessive crying
- Loss of appetite and sleep difficulties
- Experiencing intense anxiety, panic or paranoia
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming the baby
Side note: Whether you are struggling with PPD or know someone who could be experiencing these symptoms please understand that it is not your fault. These feelings can be very difficult and painful to deal with but you are not alone in your battle. Therapy gives you a safe space where you can openly talk about your thoughts and feelings without being judged. With adequate support and help you can overcome this difficult phase.
Bindiya suffered in silence for 12 weeks. When her husband could no longer see his wife in the growing misery and all medical and religious attempts failed he searched on the internet for answers.
“Rishabh (Bindiya’s husband) googled the symptoms and found out that I could be having postpartum depression. He immediately called a therapist and booked an appointment with her. I will not lie. It was very difficult at the start. As a woman I was scared that she would judge me if I told her that I don’t like my baby sometimes. But she didn’t. She was very accepting and understanding”
Bindiya felt like a huge burden had been lifted off from her chest and she gradually started coping with her feelings and thoughts. With regular therapy support she was also able to reconnect with her child and provide her with the maternal care that she needed.
There are different forms of psychotherapy that work most effectively for treating symptoms of Postpartum Depression.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a widely used therapy for treating postpartum depression. It is the number one choice of many mental health practitioners because this form therapy allows them to help the client develop more healthy and positive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Changing the mother’s fearful mindset and beliefs can make them more self-reliant in handling difficult situations.
2. Interpersonal Psychotherapy
This form of therapy is brief and focused on specific goals which in PPD is usually symptom relief. The therapist takes a more direct approach where he or she works with the mother to identify causes of PPD and develop stronger communication skills, reliable support system and other strategies to resolve or manage the identified causes.
3. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
DBT is considered as one of the most effective treatments for postpartum depression. A therapist with a DBT approach focuses on changing the unhealthy patterns of thinking and behaving through regular practices and homework. This type of therapy involves mindfulness practices, how to regulate and manage emotions, and works on distress tolerance.
There are other forms of therapies such as group therapy, couples therapy. EMDR that has proven to be effective in treating Postpartum Depression. Your therapist will be the best person to understand which type of therapy will work for you after careful assessment and evaluation.
“Depression took so many precious days of my life. I am grateful that I had such amazing support from my partner. If it wouldn’t be for therapy I honestly don’t know what would have happened”
Bindiya was brave to share her story. Her story is the one that resonates with many mothers who have struggled or are still struggling with postpartum depression. The whole experience can be highly daunting, exhausting and take a lot from you.
Emotional support from your loved ones and being consistent with therapy can pull you out from the depression and make you feel like yourself again. Therapy has helped many mothers resolve postpartum depression and given them a chance to experience the sweetness of motherhood.