Postnatal depression as psychiatric disorder
On average, 10-15% of new mothers suffer from postnatal depression. About 30% of them develop tocomania, while the others just complain of unexplainable sadness that usually disappears within 2 or 3 weeks. Although there is no official statistical data in Armenia, the figures here are presumably the same.
As we deal with a mental problem, the approach of any doctor should be highly individualized to help a particular patient. In some cases, straight talk is efficient, but there are situations when other methods should be found.
Indifference towards the child
The main symptoms of postnatal depression are weakness, bad mood, panic, fear and change of attitude towards the baby, the last being the worst of all. The new mother becomes fully indifferent and even hostile to the infant; she also avoids her husband and family members. She strains at a gnat and her mind is obsessed. If the above-mentioned symptoms are observed, the woman needs help. However, there is no need to dramatize: for a melancholic woman, for example, these are not symptoms but a usual state of being. On the contrary, if the same happens to cheerful and communicative woman, it gives reason for concern.
Animosity against the child, suicidal thoughts, total indifference towards favorite activities and constant need to lie down are indicative of serious problems.
Unlike the other types of depression, postnatal depression is directly bound to pregnancy and birth delivery, which imply hormonal changes. These irregularities are common for all pregnant women but not all of them develop disorders. Inheritance and social factors do matter. Disagreement between the family members when a woman is pregnant may result in postnatal depression. That’s why understanding and respect of the kin is very important.
Birth delivery is a huge stress for the organism. If it’s preceded by inner turmoil, the woman can’t resist the consequences, giving way to fear and destructive emotions.
Preparing for delivery
Systematic visits to the gynecologist and psychologist are a must during the months of pregnancy. There are also special programs to help prepare for the delivery that can also be useful for husbands, who either strive to help their wives after the birth of their child, or feel depressed themselves.
A psychologist can definitely help alleviate postnatal depression, but there one important factor to understand: if a woman suffers endogenous depression (major depressive disorder, or clinical depression) that bears no relation to the current situation, stressful events or a trauma, medication is needed first, while psychological assistance would be appropriate during the rehabilitation period.
If depression developed from a psychological trauma, a psychologist has to work in conjunction with a mental physician to decide on the best way to resolve the problem.
Postnatal depression can last up to six months, or a year at most. If it persists, the consequences can be grave: a woman can refuse to breastfeed the child and even commit suicide. 40% of women who beat depression never experience it again. In 60% of cases it can repeat or become a chronic disorder. At that, the attitude to the elder children may remain unchanged.
During centuries, women were not full-fledged members of the society. Although a lot of changes took place and women are free to choose a career and enjoy equal rights, the public is not ready yet to accept this fact.
Furthermore, if a police officer investigates a case of violence against a child, he must bear in mind that the incident could happen when the mother lost self-control and needs medical assistance.
There are many stereotypes like “if you didn’t keep an eye on your child, you are not a human being”, but our society needs to understand that a disease can be the reason for indifference and aggression. In this case a woman needs treatment and not condemnation.