Can result in depression if not treated fast
Postpartum depression is common among young mothers in Bengaluru. With a social stigma attached to it, few seek professional help, experts say.
A survey of young mothers in Bengaluru conducted by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine found that 58.5 percent suffered from postpartum depression; 91 percent of them were literate and 77 percent were homemakers.
Tanupriya Gupta, a baker who suffered postpartum depression, informed The Observer: “It was much later that I had postpartum blues. I started feeling weird. I had questions like ‘what am I doing with my life?’ Suddenly I started giving more importance to myself more than anything, even my baby, and I used to feel very guilty about it. I remember pouring a whole bottle of water on my little boy because he was pestering me. That’s when I realized something was wrong.” Her child is now two years and two months old. She is better after seeking professional help.
Apeksha Priya, a confidant of Tanupriya, said: “I had a feeling something might be wrong, but I had no idea she was suffering so much. I honestly did not even know that such a condition is so common.”
Atashi Sharma, a primary school teacher and mother of two, recalled her experience with postpartum depression: “I was always cranky. Not that I wanted to hurt the baby…, but I felt helpless. I had severe mood swings and could not understand what was happening to me. I had lost my job because of the baby and… that might be one of the reasons why I was feeling that way.” She did not get any professional help.
Homemaker Neha Gupta shared: “I was very cranky. I used to yell at people for no reason. I had severe mood swings.” She remembers yelling at her husband, a great support at that time, for no reason. “In hindsight, I realized I was probably suffering from postpartum blues.”
Dr Vidya Bhatt, a senior gynecologist at Radha Krishna Multispeciality Hospital, Bengaluru, explained the three stages of postpartum depression: “Baby blues is something that is bound to happen biologically. It is a combination of mood swings and being cranky. This can lead to depression if not dealt with properly. Postpartum depression is far more serious, mood swings are far more severe, mothers can sometimes refuse to give basic care to the baby. The third stage is psychosis, where the mother… tries to hurt herself and sometimes even the baby.” Mothers need to get help early so that this stage can be avoided.
Sumitra Shridhar, a senior therapist at Heart it Out, a Bengaluru-based mental health organization, explained: “PPD is when new mothers go through certain changes physically and mentally. A woman who has been having so much attention in her pregnancy doesn’t get any attention. All this happens so quickly that mothers feel lost. They feel they have no significance… it is all about the baby now. In the Indian context, most new mothers are kept within a room so they don’t strain themselves and also so that the baby doesn’t catch any viruses.”
Isolation can trigger postpartum depression, she added.
Questions like ‘What am I doing with my life?’, ‘Am I going to be only a mother for the rest of my life?’ and ‘What is the purpose behind my life?’ crosses the new mother’s mind. This might lead to an identity crisis. When they feel this way, guilt pushes them into depression.
There is a lack of awareness. During pregnancy, women are taught everything except postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression needs to be addressed with professional help. Dr Deepa Patil, a consultant psychiatrist, said: “The issue is far more urgent than normal depression. A mother suffering from PPD needs to get (to) a psychiatrist as soon as possible because the symptoms might affect the bond between the mother and the child. This can be a problem in the long run.”
Several mothers The Observer interviewed did not know about the condition. To them, feeling insecure or cranky, and having mood swings, is a part of motherhood. One woman who had severe mood swings and baby blues said that for her all this was a part of being a mother.
A Medical News Today article said one in every 9 young mothers has postpartum depression. Postpartum can linger for up to three years after the birth of the child.