Postpartum blues is characterised by mood swings, broken sleep patterns and a loss of identity. If this feeling lasts for more than few weeks, it could be a case of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is more serious and needs treatment. A new mother, suffering from postpartum blues, often loses interest in the baby, becomes irritable, may attempt suicide, hallucinates and even has thoughts of harming the baby. Medical assistance and support of the family is very crucial during this time.
“The first indication is, of course, either increased sleep or inability to fall asleep and no appetite. At first, the biological systems gets disturbed. Then, of course, they may have crying spells, crying without any reason, getting anxious without any real reason. Then they can suddenly start seeing or hearing things, that is a deeper issue,” says Dr Brunda Amruthraj, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, ZeitGeist, Bengaluru.
New mothers undergo intense hormonal changes like low serotonin levels that affect the emotional balance. Work or other related stress could also contribute to postpartum depression.
Dr Amruthraj says: “A lot of it can be dealt with through relaxation, therapy, by talking to the person, looking at what support systems can be enhanced. Sometimes, giving them short breaks in work, when they can relax, goes a long way in helping the person.”
You can also help yourself out of depression. Get at least 8 hours of sleep, even though it seems like a luxury for a new mother. Sleeplessness makes depression worse. Find your leisure time in between the hectic schedule to relax and pamper yourself and make meals a priority. Eat what you like and try to exercise regularly, however, minimal. Turning to family and friends for support is a viable option. You can always talk to them and share your anxieties. Even talking to a group of other new mothers can help you because you will know that you are not the only one struggling.
Dr Amruthraj says: “What we would advocate is that the minute the mother starts feeling a little low, not able to sleep, feeling that she can’t cope, has anxiety, worries, she should see a counsellor and start psychotherapy.”