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At least 1 in 5 new mothers experiences postpartum depression: Doctors

IANS May 13, 2024

While parenthood comes as a blessing for many, for more than 20 per cent of mothers, the new chapter of life creates stress, anxiety and postpartum depression, which can turn fatal for both the mother and child, without adequate support, said doctors on Mother’s Day on 12 May.

Mother’s Day is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of May.

Postpartum depression is a common but treatable medical condition that many women face after childbirth. While the exact cause can be difficult to identify, several factors contribute to these feelings of sadness, anxiety, and tiredness.

These can result from genetics, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, fatigue, or the pressure of becoming a mother.

The overall pooled estimate of the prevalence of postpartum depression was 22 per cent reporting postpartum depression within two weeks of delivery.

“The journey to parenthood presents couples with a myriad of challenges, often impacting their emotional well-being profoundly. The complexities surrounding late pregnancies, assisted conception methods like IVF, and the burden of preterm deliveries weigh heavily on maternal mental health,” Dr Saurabh Mehrotra, Associate Director, Psychiatry, Gurugram.

Studies reveal that maternal mental illness during pregnancy correlates with adverse outcomes for both mother and child, including preterm delivery and poor neurodevelopment.

“At Medanta, we witness approximately 70-80 per cent of mothers having post-partum blues out of which 20 per cent of mothers with postpartum depression grapple with such mental health challenges, emphasising the critical need for comprehensive emotional support and holistic care throughout the perinatal period,” Dr Saurabh said.

The symptoms of postpartum depression include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and even difficulty bonding with the baby. For mothers facing the postpartum blues, asking for help may be one of the most crucial steps, as it may help them easily bond with the baby, the experts said.

But, “if left untreated, the condition can last several months or longer,” said Dr Teji Dawane, Senior Consultant, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Bengaluru.

“One of the first steps in addressing postpartum depression is early detection through screenings during prenatal and postnatal care and giving importance to emotional well-being. It is also encouraged to seek help from professional support services such as counselling and therapy,” Dr Teji said.

Sometimes, treatment options also include medication like antidepressants to manage symptoms effectively. It is equally important to create a supportive family environment and develop self-care practices for new parents, the experts noted.

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