My sister-n-law and her husband just welcomed a huge 8 lbs. 10 oz. baby boy into the world (Wheew!!). Congratulations guys! Shortly
after leaving the hospital and getting settled back at home, the discussion of Postpartum depression came up. She noticed that she was over reacting to minor things and this wasn’t her usual behavior… so she says.
I began to try to make sense of this phenomena by first doing a little more research. Here’s one definition of the condition:
Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth. Studies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%, but methodological differences among the studies make the actual prevalence rate unclear. Among men, in particular new fathers, the incidence of postpartum depression has been estimated to be between 1% and 25.5%. Postpartum depression occurs in women after they have carried a child. Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. Although a number of risk factors have been identified, the causes of PPD are not well understood. Many women recover with a treatment consisting of a support group or counseling.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a standardized self-reported questionnaire, may be used to identify women who have postpartum depression. If the new mother scores more than 13, she is likely to develop PPD. Reference (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postpartum_depression)
When I saw that the ‘cure’ for this condition was mostly counseling it all started to make a little more sense to me. After a woman has a child all of her senses become more heightened or intensified. This is an instinctual occurrence. If you believe that once upon a time there were no houses, roads bridges, iPads, internet, then the picture becomes more plain. The mother’s senses are heightened for protection of her infant, she sees, hears, feels, smells and even tastes more keenly. Well, that sounds a lot more promising to me than telling someone that they’re clinically depressed, especially when it’s true. Whatever we continually think on creates feelings and those feelings create more thoughts. So, to Keep It Simple Stupid, changing your thoughts changes your feelings.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of understanding of emotions and how they work, this blessing, in fact became labeled as depression. The depression aspect only shows up when someone can’t explain the feelings or the condition they find themselves in, just had a baby or not. I call it a blessing because once they’re understood, these heightened emotions can be put to positive use, for things like going to a botanical garden and seeing what all sorts of flowers truly smell like. Go to a new restaurant and taste new foods that you’ve never tried. Don’t feel like moving? Fine, use your heightened sense of emotion to write a song for your baby. I know all of this may sound corny but it sure beats being called depressed and drugged out of your mind on pills.
I believe that with understanding comes peace. If more women understood where these feelings were coming from and how to deal with them, we’d have less people diagnosed as being depressed. That is not to say that depression is not real and that people should just get over it. Depression is very real, but it can be avoided with proper education and re-labeling of some of these negative diagnostics.
So many issues and problems in our lives can be avoided by simply understanding how the mind and body works, most importantly, our own.
[Disclaimer: This post in no way disputes or contradicts the instructions given by your Doctor or Therapist. Please continue to get counseling or therapy until you feel that you've overcome your unwanted state of mind.]