How do I tell if I have maternal depression?

Maternal depression includes a range of conditions that can affect women during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. This spectrum of conditions includes prenatal depression, the “baby blues,” postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
The symptoms of maternal depression that occur during or after pregnancy are similar. If you experience more than five of the following symptoms, everyday for at least two consecutive weeks you may be suffering from maternal depression.
These includes, feeling extreme sadness, hopelessness or emptiness, crying all the time, lack of interest in what you normally enjoyed, trouble falling asleep at night or staying awake during the day and loss of appetite or eating too much.
Other includes unintentional weight loss or gain, overpowering guilt, restlessness or sluggishness, being irritable or angry, avoiding friends and family, worrying excessively about your baby and being uninterested in your baby or unable to care for her.
Some of the main causes of maternal depression include; genetic, emotional, hormonal and environmental factors. Some of the women who experience it feel responsible for causing it. However depression doesn’t occur because of something you did or didn’t do.
A new parent may also be likely to suffer from post partum depression if they experienced depression or anxiety during their pregnancy. Other factors that can contribute to the development of post partum depression are physical exhaustion after giving birth, sleep deprivation and the emotional adjustment of becoming a parent.
Maternal depression has similar treatment as depression which include; talk therapy, it can be one-on-one or in a group setting with other women who have similar experiences. Antidepressants are also prescribed to balance the brain chemicals that regulate your mood.
Electroconvulsive therapy is offered to women who experience postpartum psychosis that doesn’t respond to medication or talk therapy. The electrical stimulations cause chemical changes in the brain that relieve depression symptoms.
In order to cope with maternal depression you need to get professional help.  In addition try to sleep and eat well, be gentle with yourself and take things one at a time. Ask for help when you need it.
Being a good mother knows when to ask for help. Finally share your feelings. Call a sympathetic friend or join a support group and share your feelings.
PDO can be of great help too if you are experiencing post partum depression. Don’t hesitate to contact us in the following lines: +2540723713642 call or text. Facebook (Psychiatric Disability Organisation of Kenya) Website

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