Childbirth & Mental Health

Childbirth is a mélange of emotions, hormones, anticipation, as well as a monumental shift in one’s physical and mental state. As per data published by the Royal College of Midwives, up to 20 percent of women experience some form of mental illness during pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life. This mental illness can be exhibited in the form of postnatal depression, postpartum anxiety or a combination of both.

Postnatal depression is characterized by having a sense of hopelessness about the future, feelings of guilt, shame or worthlessness, worrying excessively about the baby, amongst other potential signs. Those suffering from Postpartum anxiety may exhibit symptoms of panic disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and have intense feelings of fear, worry and restlessness. While both postnatal depression and anxiety exhibit overlapping signs and symptoms, they are different constructs, and need to be diagnosed separately for effective treatment.

Thanks to ongoing public awareness campaigns, postnatal depression has started receiving greater attention and hence making it a little bit easier for women as well as their families to be supportive and get help in need. Although postnatal depression has started to get greater attention, further awareness and recognition of postnatal anxiety is imperative. Studies on the occurrence of postnatal depression and anxiety have reported postnatal anxiety to be three times more prevalent than postnatal depression. Hence it is critical to be screening and looking out for symptoms of both postnatal depression as well as anxiety, especially since in many cases the postnatal anxiety could be one of the pre-cursors for the development of postnatal depression itself. Seeking help and support for any form of depressive or anxiety inducing symptoms that you may be feeling during or after your pregnancy is of utmost importance for the health and wellbeing of the mother as well as the baby.

While having a child is a life-changing and wonderful event in one’s life, mental illness triggered by childbirth is not an uncommon phenomenon. Hence if you are experiencing symptoms that may seem like postnatal depression or anxiety, it is important to remember that firstly, you are not alone, and secondly, seek help early.

Written by:
Sukriti Drabu
Psychologist & Counsellor
M.L.A. (concentration Clinical Psychology), B.A. (Biology, Psychology)
Certificate in ACT, CBT (Beck Institute, USA)

SACAC Counselling

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