Contributed by: Rachana Arya

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a serious clinical condition in the postnatal period that affects nearly one in five new mothers after the birth of their baby.  More than just “baby blues,” postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that is distinct from general depression. It is caused by a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, and a lack of sleep, among other challenges associated with having a baby.

There are a lot of common misconceptions concerning postpartum depression, which leads to numerous misunderstandings and a lot of uncertainty. Myths can create stigma, preventing women from seeking help or treatment. In Part One of this article, we will explore some of the myths and throw light on the facts so that women understand this condition better and do not hesitate to seek medical help.

Myth #1: Postpartum depression is just like regular depression

Fact:

Postpartum depression is not the same as regular depression. Frequently, postpartum depression is accompanied by a great deal of impatience and hostility, making it harder to cope with the difficulties that come with caring for a newborn baby. A woman may frequently experience an emotional and physical roller coaster of emotions that she has never felt before.

Myth #2: Postpartum depression means you’re crying all the time

Fact:

Not all women with symptoms of postpartum depression feel overwhelmed with tears all the time.  

Symptoms of postpartum depression differ from one woman to another, and the symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways. Some women cry out loud, while others keep their emotions hidden. Some women are weeping all the time, while others become apathetic, irritated, or enraged. Irritability and anger can quickly escalate into fury or impatience, making it difficult to deal with the stressors that come with having a new infant. 

Some women have high levels of anxiety and worry about harming their unborn children. Other women may endure mood swings that make it difficult for them to form a strong attachment and bond with their babies. Other women may have a loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, or a lack of confidence and self-esteem.

Keep an eye on these silent signs that indicate you could have postpartum depression;

  • Unexplained physical complaints
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Can’t concentrate or focus
  • Irritation and being constantly angry
  • A feeling of hopelessness and shame
  • Experiencing guilt and shame
  • Disconnected from your baby
  • Anxious and crying frequently
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Constant worry about harming your baby

Myth #3: Postpartum depression is a visible condition that other can easily see or sense

Fact:

To someone looking from the outside, a woman suffering from postpartum depression does not always appear depressed. It’s a common notion that women suffering from postpartum depression exhibit profound sadness — but this isn’t the case.

Many women appear to have it all together on the outside after giving birth, but they are truly struggling on the inside. They may be showered, dressed, and their home may appear to be in order on the outside, but they might be fighting with extremely uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

Myth #4: Postpartum depression hits you right after giving birth to the baby

Fact:

Postpartum depression may occur at any point in the first 12 months after childbirth. The onset of postpartum depression can vary from woman to woman. After childbirth, many new mothers experience the “postpartum baby blues,” which include mood changes, weeping bouts, anxiety, and difficulties sleeping. Baby blues usually start right after birth. It usually peaks shortly after delivery (usually 3-5 days) and stays up to 2 weeks. But such emotional mood fluctuations are fleeting and resolve themselves within a few weeks.

However, postpartum depression is a more severe, long-lasting form of depression that can persist or worsen up to a year after the baby is born. Most mothers who experience signs of postpartum depression months after giving birth, don’t take their symptoms seriously enough. It’s critical for women to understand that the late onset of symptoms might appear and intensify months after delivery. 

Myth #5: Postpartum depression shows a mother’s lack of love for her child

Fact:

Women with postpartum depression do have maternal love for their babies. This is one of the most widespread myths, yet it could not be further from reality. Postpartum depression is unrelated to a woman’s level of affection for her baby.

It’s a condition that is linked with chemical imbalances, hormonal fluctuations, and other psychological and environmental factors. Postpartum depression and the mother’s bond with her baby, on the other hand, can be harmed by mood instability, which can make bonding and attachment difficult.

Myth #6: Postpartum depression will resolve on its own within sometime

Fact:

This is untrue, and there has never been any evidence to support it. Postpartum depression is a treatable disorder that should be sought out with the help of a mental health expert. Women should not ignore these feelings and symptoms in the hopes that they would go away on their own. If the symptoms of postpartum depression get worse, it is recommended that you contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Final thoughts

In the next part of this series, we will address some more myths about postpartum depression and the necessary interventions to enable healing. Stay tuned!

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