Clarinda Brandão, RP
It's Called Post Partum Depression: Part 2
I recently wrote about Post Partum Depression (PPD) in It's Called Post Partum Depression: Part 1, where I talked about the signs of PPD and the differences between Baby Blues and PPD.
What to can do if you are suffering from Post Partum Depression (PPD)In cases of the normal “baby blues,” often all a new mom needs is reassurance and some more practical help. Engaging the dad to be more helpful, joining a support group for new parents, or finding other sources of support so the mom can get some rest and develop more confidence in her mothering instincts and skills can put things back on track. As with any other stressful or demanding situation, new parenthood goes better when the parents are eating right, getting enough sleep, and getting some exercise. Friends and family can help by bringing some dinners, offering to take over with the baby for an hour or so so that the parents can get a nap, or by babysitting siblings to give the parents time to focus on the infant without feeling guilty or pulled in multiple directions.
Postpartum depression, however, is a serious condition that requires more than naps and caring attention. If the problem has persisted beyond a few weeks and has been unresponsive to support and help, the mother should first be evaluated for a medical condition. Sometimes a vitamin deficiency or another undiagnosed problem is a contributing factor.
If she is medically okay, those who care about her and her baby need to encourage her to get somecounseling, both for the emotional support counseling offers and for some practical advice. Since women who have experienced postpartum depression are vulnerable to having another episode of depression in their lives, it is wise to establish a relationship with a mental health counselor to make it easier to seek help if it is needed in the future. If the mom has had thoughts of suicide or infanticide, the therapist can help the family learn how to protect them both. If the birthing center or hospital offers a PPD support group, the new mom and dad should be encouraged to try it. Finally, sometimes psychotropic medications are indicated to alleviate the depression.The baby blues are uncomfortable. Postpartum depression is serious. In either case, a new mom deserves to get practical help from family and friends. When that alone doesn’t help a new mom adjust, it’s time to seek out professional help as well.