Postpartum Depression

May 17, 2007

I received this comment from Mrs. Latha Vidyaranya in response to the post titled “Happy Mother’s Day“.

Since I know quite a few of my friends are on the family way, thought of sharing the comment as an independent post.

As a Psychological Counsellor, I would like to mention a psychological trauma that many new mothers find themselves in. It is called “Postpartum depression”. Let me explain.

A woman, as soon as she becomes pregnant, is flooded with congratulatory messages from all her near and dear ones. And everybody glorifies pregnancy and the motherhood that is to follow. The pregnant woman also starts taking pride in the fact that she is going to bring out a new life on to this earth and all her creative instincts would get fulfilled!

After nine months of looking forward to the bundle of joy, the D-day comes and the bundle of joy arrives on the scene to the celebration of one and all. But sometimes, the whole experience is so overwhelming, both emotionally and also physically, that some new mothers sometimes fall into a depression! It is the surging hormones and sometimes the imbalance of the chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) caused by the stressful situation (remember that any life changing event – positive or negative, can cause stress to humans) that lead a new mother into this kind of an unwelcome position. The stress increases all the more because she is unable to experience the euphoria that all new mothers are expected to feel! She does not feel like holding the child, she may refuse to breast feed the baby, she may even think of harming the self or the baby and the whole behaviour of the new mother becomes a big puzzle to the family members. They are at a loss to understand this…

Usually the gynecs who attend to the new mother and the pediatricians who check up the health of the new born are all aware of this psychological disturbance and they can very well handle such cases. She would require some anti depressants and most of all the understanding and support of her near and dear ones, specially the new father. He too requires utmost support as the whole event has turned into an anti climax! But the positive news is that she can come out of the depression very soon if suitable treatment in the form of medicine and counseling is given to her.

Sorry folks, if I have shocked all of you. But I thought this is a nice forum to bring in some awareness about certain psychological aspects as and when a connected article arises in the blog.

(Latha Vidyaranya is a Special Educator and Counsellor and has founded ‘Empower Counselling Centre’ in Malleswaram, Bangalore.)

16 Responses to “Postpartum Depression”

  1. Prashanth M Says:

    idakke kannaDadalli “sanni” hiDiyOdu antaare…

    Thanks for sharing the info.

  2. praneshachar Says:

    I have heard about this in mothers after baby is born.
    The post throws an important issue open and suggests how this can be overcome. If you get good family support and apt medication mother will be back to enjoy her motherhood.
    Thanks for creating awareness on the issue

  3. Shruthi Says:

    Yeah I have read a lot about this….. I heard that mostly it gets alright after a few days, but in a few cases, the postpartum depression, or “baby blues” as it is called, doesn’t go away for a very long time, and might get severe.

    At least, nowadays the awareness is there, and there are ways and means to make the new mother feel better. There are psychologists, and there is treatment if it gets too bad.

    My mother tells me that when she was young, she used to hear many times of new mothers, or “BaaNantis” becoming hysterical and falling ill and some of them even used to lose their minds. She tells me that probably that is all postpartum depression, untreated. [I was the one who told my mom about postpartum depression, btw ;)]

    It probably was worsened by the fact that baaNantis were kept locked up in a dark room, etc. Plus, husbands at that time, even though they might have been kind, were probably not too sensitive and attentive, as husbands are now😀

  4. Shruthi Says:

    My previous comment is not being displayed.. is it in the moderation queue? It was quite a long comment!

  5. Veena Says:

    Quite scary!
    What are the reasons for this ? Her inability to handle the emotional balance between her mom’s family & hers ?
    Many a times, these cultures, ceremonies gets so bigger during the child birth that it goes into the level of such disturbances!

    Shruthi makes a point right, earlier husbands were not very attentive/sensitive to such things.. probably he was not allowed to.. they generally ignore him saying.. “Hey hogo gaNdasige yaake gowri dukkha” at times where his need is atmost required.

    Just remember the plight of the kid, doctors recommend that mothers should not be medicated during the lactation time & if such cases surfaces then it becomes such a dharma sankaTa kind of scenarios…!

    Thanks for a very informative post latha avare.

  6. Shruthi Says:

    Veena,

    No, it has got nothing to do with balancing mom’s family and hers. Because postpartum blues are so common in the west, and there is no mom’s family in the picture at all there in most cases! There is no in-laws family either!🙂 [Everything is done by the couple with hardly any help from outside]

    It is a surge of hormones, as Smt.Latha says, combined with a kind of apprehension, – worry about how you will look after the baby, a kind of nostalgia about the kind of carefree person you were before, the sudden shift of importance from you to the baby – combination of a lot of things.

    As for medication, that comes only in the extreme cases. In most mild cases, psychological counselling should be enough. And of course, lots of support and understanding.

  7. Veena Says:

    Professor,

    In the above paragraph, I wanted to write as ‘What are the other reasons for it ? and ‘other’ was missing out.
    Hmm.. GOD Damn harmones do a lot to us human beings..

    Reminds me a gaaDe, hosa vaidyaginta haLe rogi melu…
    you seemed to have gathered so much information about it throughout the process, cool…
    Thanks for the additions.

  8. mouna Says:

    @ ‘god damn or not’ hormones can wreck our lives if possible… and when it happens it’s awfully terrible..😦

    it was nice of mrs. latha to write this.

  9. latha vidyaranya Says:

    the baby blues are a mild form of depression which the new mother can get over quickly with support from the family. if left without any social support (specially in our country for example, when the mother repeatedly gives birth to female children and the husband and inlaws are ready to pounce upon her for bringing out another female child, no support is forthcoming from her family) the depression can worsen to such an extent that the mother loses touch with reality around her and starts babbling out all her woes and negative feelings experienced. this condition is serious and is referred to in kannada as ‘sanni hidiyodu’ as our readers have pointed out already. generally the medication given to a breast feeding mother is quite low in potency that does not harm the child. even if the pregnant woman were to develop such depression (can be due to somany reasons) the medicines are such that they do not harm the foetus.

    namaste


  10. Don’t tell me even pregnant woman will develop such depression.. Oh My GOD!!

  11. Shruthi Says:

    Yes, Veena, even pregnant women are prone to depression and mood swings. Sometimes it can get extremely bad.
    Latha avare, thanks for all the info!

  12. praneshachar Says:

    Veena
    Don’t get scared at all. It happens to some people and you are having so much of experienced like PROF. WHO WIll be there to help and Smt.latha vidyaranya has brought out finer points and only thing is you dont go on thnking on this too much.
    shruthi it is really great you have got so much knowldege on all this and optly called Prof. innu blog comment madtane idira yavaga nimge date may end? all the best

  13. latha vidyaranya Says:

    Dear readers, please do not start thinking that every pregnant woman or newly delivered mother gets into depresssion. Not at all so. And all those who are on their family way, please do not get disturbed by this fact. May be one in thousand (sorry, i do not have the statistics as many cases never come to light) have the tendency to develop it. That is the reason elders ask the pregnant women to listen to soothing music and read pleasant stories or holy scriptures so that the mind can be kept calm and happy.
    But practically speaking, this is not the case in many homes that are beset with unpleasantness due to various reasons like disharmony between the spouses, clashes between the inlaws and the lady or financial difficulties etcetera. In such cases the woman need to share her woes with somebody whom she can trust and if such a person is not available she can share the matter with a counselor thus unburdening herself to a great extent. Emotional well being of the pregnant woman and the new mother is very important and the family members have a duty to see that she is kept in good humour. If it is not possible to change the situation in the family, atleast the pregnant woman can be empowered to face the situation boldly and taught to insulate herself away from all the unpleasantness.
    Namaste.


  14. Bellur,
    This is great info sharing session. thanks.

  15. Sanjay M Says:

    Dear Latha this speaks of a really important issue that we should face and acknowledge – thanks a lot for this. As you say extreme cases of depression or hysteria may be one in a thousand case, but still since I’ve witnessed something like this in my very well to do friend’s house, maybe we can say that in a more mild form its quite a common thing? The discussion here helps us that in case something like this happens – we need not be surprised as if its something special happening only to us, and esp that its just a situation not to be ashamed of but just needs to be handled properly. I feel maybe the main thing should be to not try to hide it as if this is a bad thing, and put up a show of well being, but just be open about it, knowing its only a temporary situation.

    Thanks Bellur and all for your informative points.

  16. Sanjay M Says:

    Particularly the duty of household members above are really valuable.


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