Postpartum depression, although common, is one of the most misunderstood and often undiagnosed complications of childbirth worldwide, affecting approximately 10-15% of postnatal women each year. This is a major form of depression that begins within 4 weeks of giving birth.
The diagnosis of postpartum depression is not only based on the length of time from childbirth to onset, but on the severity of the depression.
Also called PPD, postpartum depression is often described as a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that women experience after giving birth. It is linked to the chemical, social and psychological changes that occur when a baby is born. The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after childbirth. The actual link between this decline and depression is still unclear, but what is known is that levels of estrogen and progesterone in female reproductive hormones increase tenfold during pregnancy. Then they drop sharply after childbirth.
In addition to these chemical changes, the social and psychological changes of having a baby create an increased risk of depression. It’s not uncommon for most women to suffer from baby blues after giving birth, but research shows that around one in 10 women will develop more severe and long-lasting depression afterwards. About 1 in 1,000 women develop a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.
In a recent WHO study, postpartum depression has a heritability rate of around 44-45% and could become a cause of lifelong mental disorder if left untreated. In addition, research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that postpartum depression affects 17.22% of the world’s population, with 18.4% specific to the African continent and more than 1, 5 million prevalence in Nigeria each year.
Postpartum mental illness is real and even worse is the relatively low understanding of our society. Since the discovery of postpartum depression, there has been no major appeal from the health system and stakeholders to help mothers identify, prevent and treat postpartum depression.
As part of its goal to raise awareness of women’s medical issues, Paelon Memorial Hospital has launched a platform called the Village. The Village is a safe space for women to meet and engage in unfiltered conversations about various aspects of life and their health. The first of the meeting, held on Saturday, June 18, 2022, themed “The Reality of Postpartum Depression,” was moderated by veteran journalist and media personality, Laila Johnson Salami.
The two-hour webinar featured real discussions, medical perspectives and personal stories from the speakers: Dr. Gbonjubola Abiri, Consultant Psychiatrist and Lecturer, Dr. Olusola Abodunrin, Obstetrics and Gynecology Consultant, Erimma Nwanmah, Registered Nurse and Midwifery wife and Onovughakpo Fajusigbe, a changemaker and mother.
Discussions were held about the many symptoms and individual experiences that responders faced. For nurse Erimma Nwanmah, although she is a seasoned nurse who continues to help mothers navigate motherhood when it comes to the idea of labor, her fears surfaced. She stressed the importance of raising awareness about issues like postpartum depression and the realities of motherhood.
According to Dr. Abodunrin, having social support is essential for mothers because of the differences in intensity and frequency of depression. Like all types of depression, she points out that mood swings, energy and appetite levels can be affected. Mothers tend to feel guilty or lonely for fear of not wanting to be with their children and family members.
The theme of sensitization through prenatal care was developed. For the speakers, they believe it has created a sense of community that manages reality over expectation. Dr. Olusola Abodurin explains that having ‘ME’ time for mothers to address postpartum is crucial because while caring for the baby is a priority, the mother’s health and well-being are at stake. vital.
As a result, nurse Emma stressed the importance for mothers to consult their doctor as early as two weeks after birth for psychoanalysis and appropriate care and attention. Situations where the mother and father experience such an ordeal are rare but do occur and in such a situation, the family effort can be the element that changes things.
In her advice for women, Dr Olusola Abodunrin said, “Women need to be willing to work to get their mind and body back, there are no blanket rules, find one that works for you and stick to it. the”.
Postpartum depression can be treated with medication or psychotherapy otherwise known as talk therapy or a combination of both. The appropriate method of treatment is recognized by a specialist and it depends on the intensity. Offerings conducive to conversations without bias or shame, the multi-specialty boutique hospital offers family health, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics and corporate health services. The health facility boasts of seasoned experts who can provide therapy to mothers, fathers, and families suffering from postpartum depression.
Chike-Nwanmah holds RN, RM, BNSc, HMP