For expectant mothers, the thought of suffering from depression rarely ever comes to mind. After all, the journey to motherhood is supposed to be a natural part of life. But according to the World Health Organization, a shocking 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth worldwide experience depression. In severe cases, these mothers may even commit suicide.
The truth is, every mother is at risk of depression. Postpartum depression has an even greater impact on the family because it tends to negatively affect the child’s growth and development as the condition prevents the mother from carrying out her duties properly.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) defines postpartum depression as depression that begins within four weeks after childbirth. It may also affect women who have suffered a miscarriage and may last anywhere from several months to a year. Awareness of the subtle and sneaky signs of depression and seeking professional help can mitigate the devastating complications and consequences.
Postpartum depression is not well understood but researchers believe that it is caused by a combination of factors such as the hormonal changes and other nutritional deficiencies, as well as certain lifestyle changes during and after pregnancy. Mothers should look out for the following symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt and emptiness, lack of appetite, feeling exhausted even after rest, social withdrawal, loss of interest or pleasure in activities enjoyed before and a decreased sex drive. It is when these symptoms persist for an extended period that mothers should take notice and tell their loved ones.
Treatment for depression usually involves counseling or psychotherapy, medication such as antidepressants or a combination of both. Hormone therapy may also be an option, but this will depend on the assessment and medical advice of your doctor. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for depression as all cases vary in severity, causes, and effects, and each individual has their own needs that require the care and attention of experienced professionals.
Depression is a condition that should be taken seriously. Despite the stigma of mental disorders in society, especially for mothers and their newly born children who depend on them for their survival and wellbeing, depression can be treated and there is hope. Know the signs of depression. This may just make the biggest difference in saving a mother’s life.
At Dallas Whole Life Counseling, we have a wealth of experience in dealing with depression. Check our depression page and take a quick test to see if you’re suffering from it, and contact us immediately if you suspect that you are.