You’ve waited for this day since you were a young girl, and now it is here! You’re entering the labour ward with your partner at your side. Anxious, afraid (perhaps bordering on terrified!) yet so much joy at the gift life is about to bring you.
Then baby comes. You and your partner are overwhelmed with joy and happiness. You wonder if it is possible that you could be any happier. You take your precious little miracle home. Life changes. Drastically. In your case it could be that some of your darkest days are ahead of you as postpartum depression starts creeping up on you. No, it is not the common baby blues that affects so many women, but the real, raw effects of postpartum depression otherwise known as postnatal depression. And a fact that so many of us tend to try to ignore is that this incapacitating condition can affect new dads, too.
Happy and sad at the same time?
Sadness, lethargy, sleeping and eating trouble, feeling overcome with emotions including guilt, irritability, inadequacy, rage, angst and panic, and a sense of hopelessness may overwhelm you. You cannot understand these feelings because… you wonder -if it is possible that you could be any happier , right?
Firstly, you have to make yourself really and truly understand that this is not your fault. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a recognised medical condition brought on by circumstances and health issues beyond your control.
This is not an indicator of your sanity. This does not mean you don’t love your baby. This does not measure your mothering abilities. You are ill and need a little help to get your emotions back on track, especially after the trauma your mind and body has suffered during your nine months of pregnancy and the birth process.
PPD will attack up to 10-20% of woman following child birth. Unlike the baby blues which attacks within a few days of giving birth, PPD is more likely to inflict its devastating consequences any time within the first year from giving birth and can last for up to a year.
Depression of any sort is totally debilitating, presenting with tremendous emotional pain. PPD is not a condition to take lightly and professional help is imperative. Although doctors and scientists largely tend to agree to disagree on the exact causes of PPD, most cases presented are found to stem from the enormous trauma to the body during the birth and lifestyle stresses.
There is also the belief among certain scientists that this after-birth PPD could be the start of a more severe emotional and mood disorder such as bipolar mood disorder. This is even more of a reason to reach out and join the many, many normal moms just like you who are asking for help.
Not just a woman’s pain
But one also needs to consider the delicate situation of PPD in men. Believe it or not, PPD is rife among our male counterparts. With the inflated egos our male -species flaunt so willingly, it’s not entirely surprising to find their reluctance to admit this -weakness or -flaw in their characters! But on a serious note, 1-25% of new dads are at risk of developing PPD. Manifesting in subtle ways initially, PPD generally takes a while to set in for men – usually between two and six months after his little pride and joy is safely home. The first signs generally adopt the regular signs of depression such as sadness, lethargy physically and mentally, low self-esteem and sleep and eating problems.
Although it is not understood why yet, men with PPD generally display their condition in unusual ways. Behaviour such as drinking, spending unnecessary hours at work, with his friends or playing sport because he feels he has sacrificed so much for his new child and wants to try to claim it back. Tremendous stress and anxiety will often follow him and he may also have very real feelings of being -pushed aside by his wife.
Moms and dads, PPD is a very real and serious problem. If you just try to ride it out it will more than likely fester and grow. Seek help as soon as you can. You will be surprised at just how many new moms and dads are afflicted by this toxic condition.