Updated: Oct 21, 2022
Postpartum Depression is an emerging global concern that faces many prospective parents. Conversely, awareness regarding postpartum mental health concerns is typically reduced when compared to other physical and mental conditions (Sealy et al., 2009). It can range from moderate to severe symptoms, and has profound effects on mothers and fathers, as well as implications for their children, their partners, and families (Sealy et al., 2009; Musser et al., 2013). The occurrence of Postpartum depression can last for weeks, months, or even years, but the consequences may be felt for a lifetime. Symptoms can include typical markers of depressed moods, such as loss of interest in all activities, significant weight changes, insomnia, agitation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and recurrent thoughts of death.
Whilst professional help from medical professionals should be sought when struggling with postpartum depression, the support of family and partners plays a vital role in managing depression among new mothers (Anokye et al., 2018). Lack of support and understanding from the partner, families, and friends can exacerbate the symptoms, resulting in self-harming, substance abuse, and suicide (Guille et al., 2013). The lack of awareness regarding postpartum depression and its impact on parent’s and children's health alike has resulted in widespread improper diagnosis and poor illness management (Sealy et al., 2009). It is clear then that awareness of this condition must be raised, not only for those who currently suffer, but to ensure continued healthy life development for everyone involved.
To this aim, I interviewed someone who had experienced postpartum depression, so that their personal story could reach a greater audience.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself to start off?
“I am Mrs A, a 32-year-old woman living in Rockdale. I am also a wife, mother of one beautiful girl, an independent woman working as a sales executive, and a survivor."
Can you tell me why you said a survivor in your introduction?
“Since I know the topic of interest for the interview today, I included survivor because I have gone through postpartum depression during the initial months after delivery. I am still on the road to recovery, but to realise what I have gone through and where I am at present, I won and survived the difficult period of postpartum depression in my life."
If it is not too personal, could you share your pregnancy journey with us?
“I got pregnant two years ago, and now my baby is nearly 14 months. I remember getting pregnant with her was a dream my husband and I shared. We were so happy. I had been trying to get pregnant for five years, and when I found out about our pregnancy, my husband and I were cautious. We were solely focused on being cautious about my health, food, travel, and work stress. Our plans regarding maternity photoshoots and delivery were all we thought during pregnancy. We were also nervous and anxious about regular clinic visits and the baby's growth as we had a miscarriage before. But we thought it was normal for us first-time parents to feel that, so the eight and half month's pregnancy was with lots of emotional turmoil, happiness, mood swings, giggles, back pain, swollen legs, good food, like a normal pregnancy."
Had you heard about postpartum depression prior to your delivery?
“Yes, I knew about it, and I had an understanding that it's the depression that happens in pregnant and new mothers. After trying for five years, I had started reading a lot about pregnancy, healthy foods, doctors, and medical advancements like IVF, surrogacy. During that time, I read somewhere about postpartum depression. But I didn't know much about why and how it happens, or ways to manage and cure it. I did not know about it. But during my last few trimesters of pregnancy and after delivery, I learned more about it.”
Would you like to tell us about your journey as a survivor?
“I wouldn't say my journey with postnatal depression as I am still recovering in some ways. After my delivery, I started researching more about it when I used to cry all the time, and I was so afraid of even holding my baby. I used to sleep all day, and the cry of my baby, whom I waited for nine months, didn't matter to me during my initial days as a mother. That is when I realised, I needed help and went to seek professional help with my GP then to a specialist".
"I believe besides getting professional help, my husband and family helped me cope with the emotional, mental and physical impact caused by my depression. There were days when I didn't want to hold my baby, and I used to sleep all day and stay awake all night. There were times when I used to go to the bathroom and cry without understanding what was happening to me. I didn't know my condition, and I was afraid to tell anyone about my feelings, thinking people would judge me as a bad mother. I realised my illness when I was going through the internet and sought professional help after five months of delivery. Even after my diagnosis, it was a difficult road to confront my family about the depression. My friends helped a lot and encouraged me to tell my family. I cannot deny that professional help is particularly important to cure and manage the condition, but my husband, friends, and family were the biggest support. They are to thank for allowing me to sit here with you today. My confidence in myself and my love towards my daughter and family was another thing that helped me to get up every day and realise I am not sad or depressed. Their support in taking turns to nourish my baby when I was feeling low, taking care of my daughter when I was depressed, and understanding and support from my husband helped me get back to my normal self. My husband coming after work and listening to me, along with my families and friends coming home to make me happy and be there was the biggest strength in overcoming the depression".
Are there any final words you want to share with anyone who might be in your situation, or trying to help a loved one overcome it?
“I hope whatever I have shared may help even one person to understand that we don't hate or dislike the newborn. It's the emotional and mental health concern that has affected our love toward the child. I would also tell people to believe in themselves and their families because that is what helped me from being a victim of postpartum depression to the survivor."