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Self Care For Mothers: What Is Postpartum Depression And How Can New Mothers Overcome The Condition?

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New Delhi: Pregnancy and childbirth are experiences that are life-changing for women. These processes can trigger a whole lot of intense emotions ranging from joy, excitement, nervousness and anxiety. However, it can also lead to something unsettling – depression. It is not rare for new mothers to experience postpartum depression or postnatal depression. National Institute of Mental Health states that postpartum depression can interfere with normal maternal-infant bonding and adversely affect acute and long-term child development.

According to the Centre For Disease Control (CDC), a lot of new moms experience postpartum depression, symptoms of which are of two types – emotional and behavioural.

Emotional symptoms may include persistent sadness, anxiousness, severe mood swings, anger, irritability, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, numbness, exhaustion, trouble bonding with the baby, thoughts of self-harm and even suicide.

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On the other hand, behavioural symptoms may include lack of interest in usual activities, low libido, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, poor self-care and insomnia.

The symptoms typically begin within two weeks to a month after delivery and may last for several months or a year and in rare cases, they can be severe and long-lasting.

It is important to remember that postpartum depression is a complication of giving birth and if you have the symptoms, seeking prompt treatment can help you manage the depression and even help you bond with your baby.

As per CDC, depression is treatable and most people get better with treatment. While your Gynaecologist may help you guide on how you can seek treatments for the issue, a psychotherapist will be the one offering treatments based on the symptoms and their severity.

NDTV reached out to Dr Tina Gupta, a Delhi-based Psychiatrist, and Psychotherapist working specifically with women, children, and adolescents, who explained the treatments available to treat postpartum depression. She said,

Postpartum depression is treated much like any other depression. Support, counselling or therapy, and prescription medicines like antidepressants can help; or in some cases, a combination of both. Most antidepressants are safe for breastfeeding. In the rare cases when these treatments do not reduce symptoms, we recommend brain stimulation therapies.

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Dr Gupta says that her advice to most women suffering from postpartum depression is to seek help, if not professional, from someone they can talk with.

The most important thing is to find someone to talk to and tell them about your feelings. A support system will help you find peace. While it is understandable that a newborn requires attention at all times, I also suggest mothers find some time to do something for themselves, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. They should try reading, exercising, walking is great for health and a 15-20 minutes walk is easy and refreshing or meditating. Sometimes, I also advise mothers to journal their emotions and feelings as it helps let out their frustrations. And every week, look back at your journal to see how much better you are doing now, she added.

Lastly, Dr Gupta says that it is completely okay to feel overwhelmed, as childbirth can bring huge lifestyle changes and a mother always knows how to take care of her child.

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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