The ABC of postpartum depression

What is PPD?

Post-partum depression is a form of depression that affects some women after giving birth.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are more than just having the blues and can significantly affect a new mum’s life. They include a depressed mood or sadness most of the day, almost every day, loss of interest in activities she used to enjoy, feeling hopeless, worthless, insomnia or too much sleep, increased or decreased appetite. The memory is also affected. One also experiences fatigue, and has suicidal thoughts or attempts suicide. One is also tempted to hurt the baby.

How is PPD diagnosed?

PPD can be diagnosed about four weeks after delivery. Diagnosis can be done by a psychiatrist, psychologist or some medical doctors.

What triggers it/causes it?

It is triggered by various factors. For instance, one can be genetically predisposed, which means that depression runs in her family.

Hormonal changes could also trigger PPD. If you had a history of depression before pregnancy, you are likely to get PPD. Life pressures, including money and relationship issues, could also trigger PPD. So would an unwanted pregnancy, health issues and lack of a support system.

How is it cured/managed?

You need psychotherapy and medication.

Does the medication affect breastfeeding? Are the drugs dangerous for the baby?

Medication must be prescribed by a certified medical doctor. The doctor will prescribe what is safe for a breastfeeding mum.

Is it possible to completely overcome PPD?

Yes, it is. With the right support and treatment, it is possible. Each woman is different, though, so there’s no fixed time frame for healing.

                                  Hamida Ahmed, a consultant psychologist, trainer and CEO for Elite Counseling and Wellness Services,

Kenya Medical Directory