Why are we discussing postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a serious problem because it affects both the mother and the growing baby. It’s not the kind of suffering that can be avoided with a good job or simple thankfulness – and talking about it can help dispel this cultural misperception.
Many postpartum women face great shame and judgment from others because the disease makes them feel inadequate of care for the child they brought into the world. Postpartum depression may go undetected as a result of the stigma, or it may go overlooked by close friends and family members who believe that having a child should be a source of tremendous joy, not despair.
Other parents have additional hurdles (such as financial difficulties, health complications, unstable households, and a lack of a partner), making coping with postpartum depression symptoms much more difficult. Several variables are beyond the mother’s control.
What are the Postpartum Depression risk factors?
Biological, psychological, and social factors in a person’s life all influence mental health challenges. This is known as the “bio-psycho-social” model of mental health understanding.
So, what bio-psycho-social factors contribute to the onset of PPD?
During pregnancy, women’s bodies go through significant changes that prepare them for childbearing. Biological changes help the fetus develop, promote labor, and prepare for breastfeeding. Changes in hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, prolactin, and oxytocin, among others, have been reported to occur during pregnancy, but have also been linked to postpartum depression.
PPD risk is also influenced by social factors. According to one study, women who reported more stressful life events, catastrophic occurrences, and daily concerns experienced more postpartum depression symptoms than those who reported less unpleasant life experiences.
Lastly, psychological variables have been connected to postpartum depression symptoms. According to the study, women who report higher levels of parental stress, chronic stress, and perceived stress are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than women who report lower levels of stress in their daily lives. These could be mothers who have difficult babies or who have other long-term stressors at work or in their family life. These additional stresses inevitably affect a new mother’s mental health.
Many women are affected by social and psychological factors through no fault of their own, and biological factors affect all women who give birth. It is not surprising that so many women suffer from postpartum depression.
People who don’t understand PPD, on the other hand, may blame the individual or dismiss the condition entirely. This stigma may aggravate the problem.
Postpartum Depression Quiz
Are you experiencing symptoms typical of women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression?
Understanding postpartum depression across cultures
Postpartum depression may affect any woman, regardless of whether her pregnancy was easy or difficult if she was a first-time mother or had many children if she was married or not, and regardless of income, age, color, or education.
However, misinformation about the aforementioned facts may persist across cultural lines. Cultural differences in understanding postpartum depression might make receiving care and help more challenging for women.
Asian mothers are less likely to report depression-related psychological experiences.
A review of the literature on the experiences of PPD across cultures discovered differences in how women expressed their symptoms. The study discovered that mothers from Asian cultures expressed their depression more through physical symptoms such as headaches and feelings of worry about the baby rather than themselves. Mothers in Europe and America expressed their depression in terms of emotional challenges. Women in Nigerian culture reported nausea, remorse, and insomnia as postpartum symptoms.
The effect of generational cultural differences
Cultural differences in how people perceive depression may have contributed to the disconnect between my views on depression and those of my family members. My cousin and I are Asian Americans, but the majority of our family’s older members hold views that are more typical of native-born Asian women. They believe that taking time off from work relieves stress and allows more time for child care, so preventing “depression headaches” and concerns over childbearing resources.
Intergenerational discussions with family members about the uncontrollable onset of postpartum depression can aid in the removal of stigma. Being educated on the experience of PPD can be the first step in empowering someone who wants to break down such stigma.
Pic: Postpartum Depression
What can be done?
Individuals suffering from postpartum depression have numerous treatment options, some of which do not need to seek professional help which some mothers are reluctant to pursue because of the stigma associated with seeking therapy). If individuals around you misunderstand your difficulty due to an intergenerational culture clash, consider the following:
- Discussing your feelings with people who will support you and not judge you (partner, friend, relative…)
- Joining a social media support group to connect with other moms and people who are going through or have gone through the same thing.
- Accept help from an understanding relative or friend, whose assistance is unlikely to exacerbate your feelings of guilt and who can help you care for the baby so you can rest and take breaks.
- Maintain your health: maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep
- Understand that postpartum depression is manageable, that it is a temporary setback, and that your depression does not define you.
- Educate friends and family members who, whether purposefully or unintentionally, stigmatize mental health awareness and postpartum depression.
- Tell yourself that you did not deserve your illness and that it is not your fault.
All mental health concerns are mediated through the lens of culture and social conventions, sometimes in ways that make seeking assistance and receiving support from friends and family challenging. Being educated about the false beliefs and thought patterns that stigma imposes on us can assist us in breaking the stigma and reaching out to people who need healing right now.