Postpartum Depression - An unheard cry for help

Jan 13, 2022

“The severe sleep deprivation literally made me hallucinate one night. I wish I had known that it’s okay to ask for help, how you forget to take care of yourself (forgetting to shower, eat, etc.), how everyone is so concerned about the baby that people forget that your body is recovering from a huge traumatic event.” — A new mother

This is quoted by a woman who recently experienced the shrills of postpartum depression. Yes it is real and it happens to a lot of women. 

But is it discussed enough?

Do we know its severity?

Do we know where to reach out for help?

No! Not many women know about it. 

Did you know that postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbearing, affecting approximately 10%–15% of women? 

One in three to at least one in five in developing countries, and one in ten in developed countries, have a significant mental health problem during pregnancy and after childbirth.

These facts are scary! But what is more horrifying is that most of the women are unaware of their sufferings. Inability to express themselves and lack of knowledge has curbed many women to come forward and speak.

Let’s start by understanding the concept of postpartum to break the stigma, so that more women can talk about their experiences, shake off the undue guilt and get the help to start a healthy life.

Postpartum Depression - A Cruel Reality

Postpartum depression is the onset of moderate to severe depressive symptoms that is set in a few weeks to a year after giving birth to a child. Most new moms experience "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping.

According to a report by the WHO about 22% of Indian mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) and the country requires more resources for capacity building in maternal healthcare. 

Postpartum depression may affect the mother‒infant relationship and child development. Children of mothers with postpartum depression have greater cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal problems compared with the children of non-depressed mothers.

Postpartum disorders can be divided broadly into 3 categories: postpartum blues,  postpartum psychosis and postpartum depression. Let's have a look at the symptoms and severity level  of each of these categories. 

Postpartum Blues: Lasts only a few days to a week after childbirth

Global Incidence : 300-750 per 1000 births

Symptoms :

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sleep issues

Severity :

May resolve in a few days to a week. Needs reassurance

Postpartum Psychosis: Develops after the first week of delivery

Global Incidence : 0.89 to 2.6 per 1000 births

Symptoms:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Excessive energy and agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Severity: 

May require hospitalization

Postpartum Depression: Starts immediately after childbirth

Global incidence: 100‒150 per 1000 births

Symptoms: 

  • Severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty in bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Hopelessness and fear
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Severity: 

Requires expert help and guidance. 

Postpartum depression in new fathers

New fathers can experience postpartum depression, too. They may feel sad, fatigued, overwhelmed and have changes in sleeping and appetite patterns. Postpartum depression in fathers also called as paternal postpartum depression is real and has an adverse effect on the child development too. 

What can the parents do to fight postpartum depression?

A postpartum depression can take a toll on the parents and infant’s life. It becomes difficult to juggle between personal and parental roles. To overcome these challenges, parents should be equipped with enough knowledge and exposure. 

  • Expert guidance
  • Create time for yourself
  • Rest and sleep enough
  • Avoid isolation
  • Communicate with each other
  • See a couple therapist
  • Exercise and eat a healthy diet

Maatri - A Boon For New Parents

Maatri is India’s top preventive healthcare platform. We understand new parenthood and the challenges it comes with. We have an expert panel of psychologists, couple therapists and doctors from various fields. We provide couple therapy sessions for new parents when they face adversities of postpartum depression. Mothers can find solace in our expert psychologists which guide and counsel them for a better wellbeing. Not only this, Maatri also provides parents with complete knowledge and free expert sessions to help them take care of their newborn.

Maatri is your cohesive solution to all parenting related hassles. Download our app and embrace the new parenthood!