A 30 year old woman was brought to my
clinic by her close relative. This woman looked extremely restless
and anxious. When I asked what the matter was the woman started crying
and her relative explained to me that she was not behaving like herself
and that her nature had changed. On further case-taking I learnt
that she had delivered her first child just a month ago after which
all these problems had started. Her relative told me that she was
constantly depressed, crying a lot and not wanting to do anything.
She felt that she was not capable of taking care of her child and
had no self-confidence. The relative said that she was obsessed with
the baby and kept feeling as if something would happen with her child.
Lately even her appetite had decreased and even when the child was
sleeping she could not rest. This woman was suffering from depression
after delivery, which is medically known as POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION.
Contrary to what we think this is one of the commonest
problems faced by a woman after her pregnancy. However not much is
known about this since most families do not want to openly talk about
it and the woman feels ashamed to tell anyone how she is feeling.
WHAT IS POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?
is a term used to describe a range of physical and emotional changes
taking place after delivery. Most people think that a woman should
be happy and thrilled after having a child but this is not usually
the case. Even though she may be happy there is a lot of emotional
and physical stress she may go through during this period. There
are constant changes happening in her body physically, emotionally
and hormonally which can cause a new mother to feel anxious, sad,
confused, nervous etc… These
symptoms are usually present a few days after the delivery and normally
disappear in a week or two. But if these symptoms persist or become
worse then the woman may be experiencing Postpartum depression.
DOES IT OCCUR?
There are several theories and research studies
done on why postpartum depression occurs however there is still no
definite cause. A lot of doctors believe this problem occurs due
to the hormonal changes taking place at a very rapid rate. One study
showed that the drop in Oestrogen levels after delivery, were to
blame for the problem. Another study showed the close ties between
this problem and Hypothyroidism. There are also certain factors that
can contribute to the depression like:
1. Lack of Sleep – disturbed sleep patterns and not enough
rest can make the woman feel weak and tired hence adding to the depression.
2. Responsibility of a baby – this may be difficult for a new
mother especially if she herself is very young.
3. Loss of control – the
woman feels as if she has lost her identity, she has lost control over
her body and figure and feels less attractive.
4. Changes in work and
home – if the woman is a working person she may try to handle
too many things at the same time. However after delivery this may not
be possible and this might make her feel depressed.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR
DEVELOPING DEPRESSION AFTER DELIVERY?
Depression can affect any woman
at any age however it has been seen that those in their reproductive
period tend to be more susceptible. Also any woman who is pregnant,
breast-feeding, or has miscarried recently can develop depression.
It does not matter how many children the woman has already delivered.
However research has shown that a woman who has suffered from depression
in the past is at risk of developing postpartum depression. Also
if there is a history of depression in the family then the woman
is at risk.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPESOF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?
As mentioned earlier postpartum depression is
a term used to describe a range of physical and emotional symptoms
experienced by a woman after giving birth to a child. This can be
broken up into three main types.
1. Baby Blues – Just
after childbirth many women experience mood swings, they feel very happy
at one moment and sad in the next. They may feel like crying for no
apparent reason at all. There may also be a degree of anxiety, restlessness
and irritability. However all these symptoms and signs seem to last
for a few days or weeks and gradually they disappear. These women do
not need any treatment just family support and talking to someone about
this makes them feel better.
2. Postpartum depression – this problem
can occur anytime from a few days after delivery to even months after
childbirth. The difference between Baby Blues and Postpartum depression
is the severity and duration of the symptoms and signs. If a woman’s
ability to function is affected then she is said to be suffering from
depression, which needs to be treated. Here the intensity of the symptoms
like anxiety, sadness, restlessness, feeling of loneliness, lack of
self-confidence is greater than that felt in Baby Blues and they do
not disappear over time. The woman needs medical help along with counseling
3. Postpartum Psychosis – this is the worst form
of depression after pregnancy. Here the woman loses touch with reality
and suffers from hallucinations and delusions. She becomes obsessed
with the child and can cause physical harm to the baby. There is also
an inability to sleep no matter how tired she may be. These women are
at risk of harming themselves or the child physically. They need immediate
psychiatric help and medication.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF
Here are a list of the common signs and symptoms
seen in depression after delivery. If you have 3 or 4 of the symptoms
listed below please consult your physician and seek help or talk
to someone about it.
1. Feeling of restlessness or irritability.
2. Feeling sad, depressed most of the time.
Crying for no apparent reason.
4. Feeling tired and lack of energy. Not wanting
to do anything.
5. Suffering from physical symptoms like headaches,
palpitations, breathless or even numbness all over the body.
difficulty in focusing or concentrating on any thing. Making any
decision becomes very difficult.
7. Changes in appetite. Either there
is loss of appetite or there may be overeating and weight gain.
Lack of interest in the baby is a sign of depression.
worthless, guilty or low self-esteem.
10. Trouble sleeping even when
the child is asleep.
11. Overtly worried about the child. 12. Loss
of interest in other activities including sex.
TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL
WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Here are a few things you can do if you
feel you are suffering from depression after giving birth to a baby.
1. Get enough rest. This is extremely important
because the body has gone through many changes physically and hormonally.
Try and take a nap when your child is sleeping.
2. Do not expect
yourself to do everything you did before you delivered. Do as much
as you can and get someone to help you in the housework. Remember
you are not superhuman and accept the fact that things will not be
the same as before.
3. Talk to someone you trust or confide in someone
you are close to. Talking will make you feel better. If you have
an understanding husband, make sure he knows what you are going through.
4. Avoid being alone by yourself and the baby.
If there is someone to take care of the child, leave the house and
go out even if it is just for 15 minutes to half an hour. Dressing
up and going out will help change your mood. Go for a brisk walk
in this time, this will not only help you lose weight but also make
you feel better and fresh.
5. Talk to other women who have had children
recently and share their experience. Take advise from your physician
and do not be afraid to ask any question no matter how silly you
may think it is.
6. Spend some quality time alone with your husband
while someone is taking care of the child. This is extremely important
for both partners.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?
The most important thing is to seek help for this
problem because if left untreated it can cause severe problems for
the mother and the entire family. The child can get neglected in
the bargain. Also the hormone levels must be checked by doing a blood
test. Especially the Thyroid levels must be checked because Hypothyroidism
can also cause symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue, tiredness
an important part of the treatment and it is important that the entire
family go together. There are a number of anti-depression drugs available
however very few are safe to be taken while the woman is breast-feeding.
Also these drugs have lots of side-effects.
In Homoeopathy there
are a number of excellent remedies to help a mother battle postpartum
depression and get cured. We take the entire case-history of the
patient including the constitution, physical and mental make-up and
emotional symptoms. Family history and past events are also very
Here are a few remedies I have used to treat such
The case of the 30 year old
woman narrated in the beginning was given this remedy. She had all
the symptoms of Cimicifuga. She was worried all the time and anxious
about the baby. She told me that she felt as if there was darkness
surrounding her and she felt confused all the time. Sleep was difficult
as she kept thinking negative thoughts as if something wrong was
going to happen. Her relative told me that her moods were constantly
changing. She kept sighing loudly without knowing this.
I gave her
Cimicifuga 200, 5 pills daily to help her throughout her postpartum
period till she recovered fully.
Here the patient has
deficient milk production, which may trigger the depression. She
feels guilty about not being able to feed her child. There is sadness
and she feels as if she is going to die soon. There is confusion
and she is unable to understand things. There is also no sexual desire
and the woman does not want to sleep with her husband. She experiences
great changes in mood, one minute exhilarated and the next depressed.
There is also a peculiar symptom of starting from her sleep, which
leads to loss of sleep.
This woman needs Agnus Castus 200, 5 pills
in frequent doses till the symptoms cease.
of a woman going through depression just after delivery was given
this remedy. This lady had been trying for a child for years and
had tried several fertility treatments without success. Then she
conceived naturally but started going through depression even during
her pregnancy. The family could not understand this because they
thought she should be happy after delivering a healthy normal child.
She told me that she just wanted to be alone by herself and felt
like crying all the time. Her mind would keep thinking about past
negative events that had happened to her. This lady described herself
as being sad but did not want sympathy from others.
Natrum Mur 200,
in constitutional doses was give to this woman, which made her feel
like her normal self again.
This Homoeopathic remedy is
well known as a female remedy. Pulsatilla is often used in problems
pertaining to the female sexual system where the symptoms correspond.
It is also very useful in treating emotional problems like depression
especially after delivery where the woman is most vulnerable. This
patient will weep easily even while narrating her symptoms. She will
not like to be alone and will want someone around her all the time.
Even darkness causes uneasiness. This uneasiness and anxiety is better
when she is in open air and when consoled. This remedy is also often
used in postpartum depression where the mother weeps every time the
Give Pulsatilla 200, 5 pills 4 times a day to
help improve her emotional and mental state.
I have written this
article in order to make people aware of depression after delivery.
We think that this is rare and uncommon because most women feel ashamed
and embarrassed to speak about it and express themselves.
cause harm both to the mother and the child. If you are suffering
from this or know of someone who is please consult your physician
and do not try to self medicate.