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‘Baby Blues’ or Perinatal Depression?

Mental Health • by Paul De Beyer • 07 July 2022

Having a baby might be regarded as one of the happiest times of your life, but the emotional, biological, financial, and social stress attached to it can cause serious mental illness to occur. 

You often hear about brides who suffer a bout of depression after their weddings, and the first thought is: why? They’ve just experienced one of their biggest and best days, culminating in marrying ‘their person’. What could possibly get them down?

Well, that’s exactly it. It’s a bit like reaching a summit, completing a goal or task, and realising that it’s over. Now, imagine that feeling, but multiplied by hormones, stress and the anxiety of having to care for a newborn baby.

Perinatal, or peripartum, depression is one of those few topics that simply doesn’t get spoken about enough.

What is perinatal depression?

Perinatal depression is the overall term for a mother or father who experiences depression during and after pregnancy. It’s more common in mothers than fathers.

You’ve probably heard of postpartum depression, which is probably a more common term, and refers to depression after the child is born, but it’s possible to experience these feelings during pregnancy as well.

What causes it?

Pregnancy is a very vulnerable time for expecting mothers and the emotional, biological, financial, and social stress can increase the risk of suffering from depression and anxiety.

There are no specific, direct causes that can be linked to the development of perinatal depression.

What about the ‘baby blues’?

It’s very common for pregnant women to experience the ‘baby blues’ at some point, which is a short-lived condition that requires no medication or therapy. Symptoms generally involve involuntary crying, irritability, anxious thoughts and restlessness.

These symptoms generally last a few weeks and will resolve themselves. If they escalate or continue for a long period of time, you should seek medical help.

 What should I look out for?

What can I do about these feelings?

Firstly, you’re not alone and what you’re feeling isn’t wrong, bad or abnormal. It’s beyond your control and not something you have caused or should be embarrassed about.

The best thing you can possibly do, whether you’re suffering from ‘baby blues’ or perinatal depression, is to talk to someone.

The subject is still one that’s rarely spoken about in social circles, and simply engaging with a friend, family member, or even a professional therapist is your best first course of action.

If you need someone to talk to, and are a GetSavvi Health member, you have access to the Member Wellness Programme. This gives you private, confidential access to accredited, licensed medical professionals who are on hand to help you with a wide variety of subjects, including perinatal depression.

If you’re not a GetSavvi Health member, you can click here to see a list of contact numbers for free help.

References:
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group
Postpartum depression
Emergency caesareans put new mothers at higher risk of developing postnatal depression
Depression, anxiety may be linked to c-section risk among pregnant women
Perinatal Depression
Postpartum Depression
8 Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

 

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