Postpartum or postnatal depression affects one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. (1) This father, who lost his wife to the illness, is spreading awareness of the disease to encourage others to get help before it’s too late. (2)
Man Tragically Loses Wife to Postnatal Depression
After carrying a child for nine months and going through labor and delivery, a mother’s work is only just beginning. For any parent, those first few months are incredibly challenging. Many women experience what is known as the “baby blues” for a couple of weeks post-delivery. The slurry of hormones rushing through their body combined with the sleep deprivation and anxiety brought on by parenthood is a lot to deal with. (1)
When these feelings of being a bit down, anxious, or tearful extend beyond those first two weeks, this could signal that the mother is suffering from postnatal depression. (1)
Aaron Harbertson lost his wife in June of 2019 after a three-year battle with postnatal depression. (2)
“To Charlotte, you are the love of my life and gave me the greatest gift possible, a beautiful little boy,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I promise to you that I will raise Hugo into the gentleman you would have wanted him to become, tell him stories every day about how kind, caring, and beautiful you are.” (2)
Harbertson says early detection is critical. He urges all moms and their partners to watch for the signs and symptoms and get help immediately so their family won’t suffer the same tragedy. (2)
“To any women having or planning to have a baby, please take postnatal depression seriously, make sure you seek help early on, and get out as much as possible to baby groups,” he says. “To their partners, keep a close eye on them and look out for all of the early symptoms. The earlier it is addressed, then less likely it will transform into something fatal.” (2)
The Signs and Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
It is not shocking that most moms experience a flood of emotions after giving birth. They experience a drastic hormonal change, all while being thrust head-first into motherhood. (3) There are no books or classes that you can take that will truly prepare you for the experience.
While it is normal for women to experience the baby blues, when these feelings continue for more than two weeks postpartum, or they set in later, postnatal depression could be at play. (1)
Postnatal depression can happen at any time within the first year after giving birth. All expecting moms and their partners need to know the signs and symptoms to catch any problems early on.
Read: Woman Gave Birth To Her Own Biological Granddaughter So Her Son Could Have a Child
Postnatal Depression: Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms include (1,3):
- A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- A lack of enjoyment or loss of interest in the outside world and activities
- Feeling tired all the time and a lack of energy
- Feeling sleepy throughout the day but having trouble sleeping at night
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from others
- Concentration and decision-making problems
- Scary or disturbing thoughts, for example, about hurting yourself or your child
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Excessive crying
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you are not a good parent
- Feeling worthless, shame, inadequacy, or guilt
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Recurring thoughts about death or suicide
Postnatal depression can set in at any time and often does so gradually, so you may not notice it first. (3) When you do, it is important to take action right away and seek treatment.
How To Treat Postnatal Depression
The first step to treating postnatal depression is to remember that it is an illness and is nothing to be ashamed of. Having postnatal depression does not make you a bad parent or a bad person, nor is it your fault.
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression, speak to your doctor right away. They may be able to give you tools to help, but if not, they will refer you to a practitioner who can. (3)
The goal is to treat postnatal depression quickly and effectively. The earlier the problem is addressed, the easier this will be.
You can do several things on your own at home that can help you manage the symptoms of postnatal depression. These include (1,4):
- Talking to your friends and family about how you are feeling and getting their support
- Resting when possible
- Taking time for yourself to do things that you enjoy
- Sleeping as much as you can at night
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet
- Stay away from depressive substances, such as alcohol
- Join a support group for new moms
If self-care is not helping, your doctor will likely write you a referral for a therapist. This person will be a trained professional who can help you work through your feelings and emotions and give you the tools to handle them as they arise. (1)
In addition to therapy and depending on your condition’s severity, you may be provided with antidepressants. Your doctor will prescribe you ones that are safe to take while breastfeeding. (1)
Don’t Do It Alone
Often new moms are inundated with exclamations of “oh, you must be so happy!” and many people fail to see the harder, less joyous side of being a new mom. They receive unsolicited advice and information that can be overwhelming and make a mom feel inadequate or confused.
Being a parent is hard, no matter if it is your first child or your fifth. If you are having trouble or noticing even one of those situations, take action. If you notice it in your partner, support them and encourage them also to get help.
Working together, couples, friends, families, and communities can help new parents beat postnatal depression and have happy, healthy families.
Keep Reading: Kids who get regularly yelled at tend to have low self-esteem and develop depression
- “Overview – Postnatal depression.” NHS.
- “Dad’s heartbreaking post after losing partner to postnatal depression: “Seek help early on”.” Healthy Mummy.
- “Postpartum depression.” Mayo Clinic.
- “Treatment for postpartum depression.” Health Line.