World Mental Health Day: How new moms can deal with depression during pandemic
- While the birth of a baby is a special moment for a mother, postpartum depression can make things difficult for women. In pandemic times, the situation has turned even graver.
World Mental Health Day: While pandemic time has brought uncertainty for most people, it has particularly taken a toll on the mental health of new mothers who are already experiencing a tough time dealing with their emotions, health problems, increased workload and taking responsibility of the newborn child. Pandemic has added another layer of stress for them as many of them may feel isolated and cut off from the world.
Samridhi Sharma (name changed) who became mother at the peak of Covid pandemic last year said that her baby blues turned into a full-blown depression after being restricted just to her home and getting no help from outside for household chores. "My day seemed non-stop and it felt like there was nothing else left in my life. I had to take medication in order to feel better," she said.
While the birth of a baby is a special moment for a mother, postpartum depression is something which is quite common in Indian women. "The social distancing norms are making new moms feel more isolated and stressed about their newborn child, who are also denied of the love from the other members of the family," says Dr Kirti Anand, Associate Consultant Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula.
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Why new mothers suffer from postpartum depression
From conceiving to the delivery of baby, a woman goes through a progression of hormonal changes in her body. Apart from the physical changes, women encounter numerous changes like fluctuation of mood, irritability, etc. that slowly pushes them into postpartum depression. "Such issues often go unnoticed and unrecognised by their own family members. That’s why it becomes imperative for their partners to provide them with much needed emotional and physical attention. The situation can get worse if proper care of the new mother is not taken during this period, which can be harmful for both the child and mother," says Dr Anand.
Studies suggest that women who became pregnant and delivered during the pandemic, felt a strong sense of panic and anxiety because of the health risks during the pandemic. Research also shows that women with pre-existing mental health conditions were about 2 to 4 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety or PTSD during the pandemic.
Tips for pregnant women and new mothers to deal with depression
Take a walk, stay physically active
In order to boost your mental health, it is advised to take a walk or do some indoor physical activities like gardening or household chores.
"No matter whether a mother engages in fitness training sessions or regularly walks a few kilometres in the park, physical exercise reduces the negative feelings in the mind. Less physical exercise makes women more susceptible to depression and anxiety during the perinatal period. It’s essential to get fresh air and keep the body moving to combat the negative effects on the mind," says Dr Anand.
Stay in touch with friends and family
From pregnancy to becoming a new parent, social support is vital for a woman. "Talking to near and dear ones can negate the effects of postpartum depression and helps to deviate the mind from negative thoughts. One should have an effective support system in family, friends or a postpartum doula or night nurse so as to make the overwhelming everyday tasks of new parenthood little easy," says Dr Anand.