12-07 Parental depression ¬– Part 4: Effects of postpartum depression on parents and newborns

Posted in Children, Depression, Depression Treatment, Emotions, Family, Mental Health, Mental Health Disorder, Mental Health Treatment, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder, Parenting, Relationships, Therapy, Treatment

Parental depression ¬– Part 4: Effects of postpartum depression on parents and newborns

With nearly one in eight women in the United States suffering from postpartum depression and related illnesses, millions of newborn children in America are at a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders in the future. Many times, women mistakenly consider postpartum depression as normal baby blues, and do not seek professional help. But, the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are long-lasting and often interfere with a woman’s ability to handle daily tasks and take care of the baby.  An untreated depression in new mothers may trigger life-threatening behavior and thoughts which require immediate medical attention.

Effect of postpartum depression on newborn babies

It is normal for new mothers to feel anxious at all times. Many new mothers experience frequent mood swings and agitation within the first week of delivery. However, being obsessed with thoughts such as “I am not a good mother” or “I cannot take a good care of my baby,” over a period of time, can take a heavy toll on the physical and mental well-being of a woman as well as her baby.

A woman suffering from depression experiences several changes in her behavior and lifestyle, which manifest as mood disorders, feeling of hopelessness, poor diet, irregular sleep, insomnia, etc.  Although it has become an alarming trend, the stigma related to mental health prevents one from seeking help.

Depressed and anxious mothers who are constantly preoccupied with unreasonable thoughts can exhibit strange behavior such as, waking up their sleeping baby out of curiosity or they may pay no heed to their child’s activities or needs. Thus, when a mother is unable to respond to her baby’s cues in a dependable way, it affects her emotional connection with the baby causing a serious setback to the mother-child relationship.

Postpartum depression can have adverse impact on fathers

The mother-child relationship is not the only one that gets affected by postpartum depression. Since the birth of a child can be emotionally challenging for fathers as well, many men are also likely to suffer from depression nearly three to six months after the baby is born. With nearly 10 percent of the new dads experiencing postnatal depression, it has become a significant issue for men as well.

It has been observed that most mothers find it difficult to concentrate on anything else apart from the baby. In doing so, they often neglect their husbands who feel isolated and at times, overwhelmed. However, postpartum depression in men often goes undiagnosed due to lack of awareness and stereotypical symptoms associated with the disease.

According to Karen Kleiman, director of Postpartum Stress Centre, it is a family illness and can affect the husband-wife relationship in the long run. Women tend to isolate their husbands for not participating in raising the baby, which can have an adverse impact on their marital relationship.

Road to recovery

Any kind of mental health illness can make one’s life hell. But there is hope, provided the symptoms are not ignored and acted upon at the right time. Medication and support can go a long way in making life smooth for anybody suffering from any sort of mental health disorder, including postpartum depression. The discoveries and advances in the field of psychiatry have made it possible for depressive patients to gain complete freedom from the illness and live a normal life.

If you or your loved one is battling depression, the Depression Treatment Centers of California can provide you with information about the best depression centers in California. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online for further information the best rehab centers in California.

For other parts of the series, “Parental depression:”

Part 1: Maternal depression and its effect on child development

Part 2: Tips for effective parenting while fighting depression

Part 3: Growing up with depressed parents

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