Practical tips to help Women with Postpartum Depression, before starting any medications 

In this article we will discuss the complex mental illness known as postpartum depression (or postnatal depression) that can affect 15% of women around the world. Recent studies show that PPD can affect men as well. PPD is a poorly understood disorder with a great deal of stigma in the community.

Using a few practical tips to help new mothers cope with their transitions into motherhood, it is possible to manage their symptoms at home, without the need for any medications until advised by a healthcare professional.

 

What are the Signs of Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a complex neuro-hormonal disorder that affects new mothers, occurring 1 week to 1 month after the delivery of their newborn. It is often characterised  by mild to moderate changes in mood, irritability, anxiety and sadness. 

 

Follow up consultations with the mother’s obstetrician or midwife, may help to diagnose (or atleast suspect) an episode of PPD and get her the necessary help. 

 

Although most cases are mild and dissipate over time, provided she receives the necessary support from family and friends, early diagnosis and management is crucial to prevent worsening of symptoms which may lead to Postpartum Psychosis and/or harm to her newborn.

 

A diagnosis of a mental health disorder like postpartum depressions does not need to be an adverse personal event, by seeking professional help or even a second expert medical opinion, the whole family may get the help they need at the right time.

Can Postpartum Depression Affect Men?

Although it is rare for men to experience PPD, recent research points to higher awareness of the complex emotional and psychosocial changes that new fathers have to undergo during this sensitive moment in their lives. 

 

Between 1% to 26% of new fathers may experience alterations in their moods, sleep cycles, appetite and other drastic changes coinciding with their partners stress levels.

 

ObGyn and Family Medicine specialists should be aware of the interlinked emotional changes that may affect the fathers as well. A thorough and open conversation should be discussed in certain high risk populations.

men sufferring from PPD need to open up on viosapp telemedicine

What are the Risks of Untreated Postpartum Depression?

Untreated PPD falls under the same risks of any untreated mental illness. Ignorance of early warning signs of a more severe emotional disturbance (unlike usual postpartum blues) may be hazardous to the mother and her baby. Due to social stigma, avoidance of seeking early help or ignorance by the healthcare community can be detrimental to managing PPD at its early stages.

There are widely known examples of untreated PPD in high risk women (low socioeconomic status, history of abuse, substance use, family history of mental illness etc) who intentionally harm their baby and are now facing incarceration.

 

Many mothers contemplate or even successfully commit self harm and/or suicide as a consequence of not treating PPD early.

beautiful woman smiling after receiving telemedicine care from viosapp

What Helps Postpartum Depression?

PPD can be considered a subcategory of Depression, but according to the ICD-10 criteria there are some variations in diagnosis. Treatment for most mental illnesses can be divided into conservative and medication-based treatments based on severity, underlying situations and the clinical decision of certified mental health professionals. 

 

PPD has the potential to be managed conservatively at home, provided there is ample community and family support for the new mother. Treatment options for PPD are similar to managing mild to moderate cases of depression.

The patient and her family is strong encouraged to seek professional mental health guidance before proceeding with any form of treatment

The main treatment options for PPD are:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Often the primary step in confirming a diagnosis of a case of PPD. A certified psychiatrist can help the afflicted mother to acknowledge her feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, anxiety and other negative emotions.

 

Using guided group therapy or just personalised one-to-one psychological counselling, the mental health specialist can provide guidance on non-pharmacological methods in managing milder forms of PPD.

 

Family-oriented CBT is regarded as the cornerstone of therapy for the new mother. In many Eastern cultures, there has been anthropological evidence of better outcomes when the female elders of the family and the community come together to assist the young family with their infant care responsibilities.

 

Antidepressants

Serotonin-specific Reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) may be prescribed as first-line pharmacotherapy, to manage imbalances in neurotransmitters responsible for mood eg. serotonin levels. 

 

Due to a latency period when any signs of mood improvements may be observed. The mother may need to be carefully assessed with continuous CBT and under direct supervision by the treating physician. 

 

Many psychiatrists are considering specific hormone therapy such as with progesterone analogues eg. Brexanolone 

 

Considering the reported side effects of many psycho-active medications, especially the risks of their spread to the mother’s breast milk. Women should exercise caution and seek appropriate expert second opinions before deciding on the best course of action.

 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Rare cases of severe refractory PPD i.e. resistant to behavioral therapy and/or standard medications, may require institutional management. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an option reserved for difficult to manage cases (where symptoms are worsening to the point of progressing towards postpartum psychosis) so as to prevent harm to the mother and her baby.

 

Tertiary-level referral may be needed to assess the requirement of electroconvulsive therapy for postpartum depression.

What are the Natural Methods to Help Postpartum Depression?

 

For mild cases of PPD and on the advice of the mother’s obgyn doctor, some women may try natural methods to manage their mood symptoms. Such lifestyle strategies can be a more comfortable and holistic approach to a personal sensitive matter, such that the mother does not have to miss out on the intimate bonding moments with her newborn.

 

The following lifestyle methods can be used to reduce some of the symptoms and allow for natural healing of the unfortunate mood swings in PPD:

 

1) Ask for help with household chores from your own mother or mother-in-law, and even the father.

2) Try to sleep when your baby falls asleep to

3) Gentle exercise such as power-walking or yoga can help with mood swings and overcoming the residual pain from childbirth

4) Making time to do things for yourself eg. reading a book, blogging, painting, gardening

5) Eating regular, healthy meals

6) Joining a support group for women with PPD (either online or in your community)

women holding each other up and supporting them with viosapp

CONCLUSION

What should you do if your Wife/Sister has Postpartum Depression?

Childbirth and motherhood are beautifully interlinked moments in a woman’s (and a man’s) life. It is important to realise that people experience such moments in their own way under their own personal adverse situations as the case may be. The importance of a community-based approach to postpartum depression is an important first step to accepting the concept of PPD (to remove any stigma) and the opportunities in getting the right professional help when needed.

 

Most women contend with hiding their emotional and physical pains, but they do not have to. Even before the global lockdown, women have always faced barriers to seeking professional medical support. 

 

Telemedicine is an ideal solution for women, their mothers and other female support groups to come together in a safe and private environment to talk openly about their concerns. In many cases even cognitive behavioural therapy can be best provided with telemedicine consults so that the mother does not have to leave her home and neglect her infant at her time of need.

little baby holding her mothers hands while she does telemedicine at viosapp

Why Choose VIOS?

The hardworking people behind VIOS are all children of strong mothers too. We have taken great strides to create a hassle-free private virtual care solution for women around the world. Maternal Telemedicine care would not be complete without a platform that understands the importance of providing expert second opinions before beginning any complex management and giving guided lifestyle counselling.

In many cases, sometimes you just need to speak with another experienced mother-figure to help you in these tough times.

 

At VIOS we believe that you should be free to choose your provider based on their skills and the personalised needs that would help you in the best way possible. With easy direct pay options; you can choose your preferred specialist, a suitable appointment that is convenient for you and have an open honest discussion for as long as you need.

View this infographic to see how easily you can have a discrete online appointment with an obgyn specialist

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10 Comments

  1. Md. Fahad Azom

    In this article, depression after childbirth and its cures are described very well. However, many changes happen in a woman’s life during pregnancy. Lack of sleep, nausea and feeling tired are common for a pregnant woman which can also affect her mental health. Is there any chance that the mother gets depression during her pregnancy period? If yes, what is the cure?

    Reply
  2. Shafkat

    I have seen my sister suffer from ppd. I didn’t experience it first hand but I saw how it affects mothers. I’m glad we have such guidelines and natural ways to cure this illness. There are expensive ways too but not everyone can afford such expensive. Thanks for spreading the awareness and much required cures

    Reply
  3. Jannatul Ferdous

    I had some idea about this thing to some extent. I never knew that men could have it too. My heart goes out to all the new parents who are secretly suffering from this. Thank you for enlightening us about a serious problem. Although I think no body should hide these kind of natural issues. After all their own child could be the one to face all the negative impacts.

    Reply
    • vioswp

      Thank you for your kind words and support. Many people suffer in silence and its time for the community to help them out.

      Reply
  4. Al Asadujjaman Arif

    We should treat PPD carefully. Many of us even don’t have an idea of what PPD is. We can’t ignore a subcategory of Depression that later may haunt us badly. The period after giving birth is very important for every mother and they need to be treated with more care. PPD can also affect fathers, so they need to be treated carefully as well. If the whole family came together and help both mother and father to take care of their children then it will be solved easily.

    Reply
    • vioswp

      Thank you for your comment and your support to new mothers. We too believe in a community-led approach

      Reply
  5. Zarin

    I’m glad motherhood, which is solely known as a happy journey and nothing else, is getting real-life exposure. This topic should be brought under public education more so the people can finally understand the struggles behind it and the mother would get expert help. PPD is a serious issue and I hope the mainstream media would deal with it in such a way. Will be sharing these articles with the new moms around me to let them know it’s completely okay to feel this way. Hope you guys will publish more in-depth research on PPD soon!

    Reply
    • vioswp

      Thank you for your support Zarin. You are right, we should try harder to increase the public awareness about health issues affecting new mothers in these trying times.

      Reply
  6. Farukul Islam

    PPD may occurs suicidal cases really it is very horrible. Though I heard for the first time that A man also suffer from PPD. The PPD treatment is very expensive. But I am very happy to read through this article. The author nicely mention the problem and give a brief solution also. I hope that a huge audience will be benefited from this article.

    Reply
  7. Jehrin Mahmud

    Postpartum depression is a common thing for a new mother. However, this depression should be treated quickly. Otherwise, it can turn out into a ferocious form. In Bangladesh, this depression is called tantrums of a mother mostly whereas in foreign counties people are aware of postpartum depression. Psychiatrists have suggested some therapies to get rid of it.

    Reply

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