How to recognize depression on maternity leave?
Depression on maternity leave is a common thing. What are the symptoms that indicate its occurrence? Why is the help of friends and family often ineffective? Where does a young mother begin her treatment?
The world of mom and baby
The first months after the birth of the baby, a woman rejoices in her happiness – the child and the status of a young mother. After a while – a few months or a year – the new life can become a daily routine – the woman realizes that apart from cooking, feeding, walking, cleaning and taking care of the baby, there is nothing in her life. Duties go in a circle, urgent matters are performed on the run, and no time is left for yourself, your desires and needs.
How does depression develop?
While the baby is small, the young mother’s attention is focused only on him – she makes sure he did not hurt himself, did not get a knife, did not swallow anything unnecessary. If daddy works a lot, grandmothers are absent or far away, the young mother’s world narrows to the size of the child’s perception: his desires become her dreams, the feelings and sensations he experiences are increasingly transmitted to the woman, in conversation, she no longer says “me” and “my child”, instead, more and more sounds “we”: “We are one year old,” “We are very cranky,” “We like cauliflower more.” At first glance, there is nothing strange in such words of the mother, but after a while, she does not notice that she is getting closer and closer to the child, dissolving into him and losing herself as a person. It is at this point that depression can set in.
One day, the mother suddenly realizes that girlfriends, movies, carefree walks, hobbies and even the thought of them remained in the past. And the spouse? Returns late, does not help, inattentive. Physical intimacy? No, better to sleep. Terrible fatigue, lack of interest in life, unwillingness to get up in the morning. The woman begins to realize that life is no longer to her liking. She may blame it on her husband, child, circumstances, or herself. “Who needs me like this?” – the mother thinks while washing the dishes. “I lost myself,” “I married the wrong man,” “I gave birth too soon (or too late),” “I’m a bad mother” – these statements are mentally replayed several times a day in a woman’s head, worsening her emotional state.
The consequences of depression in a mother
Irritation at the slightest opportunity and quarrels become a frequent phenomenon in family life. The usual “tangle” of fatigue and heavy thoughts gradually grows, depriving a woman of her last moral and physical strength. Often, close people – parents, husband, girlfriends – do not suspect that their dear one is visited by thoughts of hopelessness, divorce or even suicide.
Depressed state deprives the possibility of joy, participation in family life, to develop and objectively look at events. From this condition of the mother and the husband suffer, and the relationship in the family becomes tense.
How do I start treatment?
- Understand that depression is a common problem that is not something to be ashamed of. More often than not, women, instead of accepting the situation, try to avoid the problem, or berate themselves for being overly sensitive. At the same time, they may experience a lot of guilt and shame, thinking that the problem lies in them and there is something wrong with them. Accepting oneself as depressed means reflecting on one’s psychological health and ways to treat it;
- To believe that there is a way out, and many moms have already taken advantage of it. The more a woman on maternity leave is withdrawn, the harder it is to help her. If you do not want to share your problems with anyone, you can help yourself through virtual communication. To do this, no need to go out of the house and frank with strangers, such as a therapist. Social networks and interest groups contain many living stories and examples of women who have experienced depression. By talking to them, you can get support and valuable advice;
- Wanting to change your life. If a young mother does not want to help herself, it is unlikely that someone else, from the outside, will be able to do it. To live better, to have more rest, to please yourself and your husband, to enjoy not communicating with your baby – this is what you should strive for, being on maternity leave, instead of going through a gray everyday life; to decide to make an effort to solve the problem. Just thinking about the good is not enough to beat depression. It is useful for a young woman to decide – what she is ready to start with, how to act so that depression will recede;
- See a psychologist. Timely referral to a specialist is one of the best ways not only to overcome depression in maternity, but also to solve many other personal complexes, the existence of which a young mother often does not suspect.
The effectiveness of psychotherapy
“Why is it necessary to go to a psychologist if you can read books and online resources?” – many people think. On the one hand, such a quick way simplifies the solution of the problem, but on the other hand – creates the risk of wasting time. Unverified sources on the Internet can confuse you completely, and books from the “popular psychology” series are often designed for a wide range of readers and contain information that is unlikely to help a particular person.
Advice from relatives and friends is also not always effective, because in order to get out of depression you need to deeply understand its causes, and this requires special knowledge and information, some of which you don’t want to bring up for discussion. In addition, depression and the study of its character involves analysis of the client’s personality, his childhood and relationships with other people, and this can only be done by a professional.
A psychologist with the appropriate education and experience will be able to take a detached look at the other person’s life problems and understand what kind of help is required. If a young mother turns to a specialist and trusts him, she has a real opportunity to leave depression in the past forever and regain herself, her interests, her family. It is necessary to remember that such work is individual and how much time it will take is not known in advance.
What is the process of psychotherapy?
- the psychologist will listen to the complaints and ask the woman additional questions about her and her family, which will allow a better understanding of the causes of depression;
- Help relieve emotional stress and set the mood for further work;
- Will analyze the information and determine a plan of action;
- Tell her about the depression and explain what circumstances led to its development;
- If necessary, will consult with the spouse and explain how he or she can support the wife;
- With the help of small sequential tasks will direct to work with the causes of depression until a lasting result is achieved.
What to do if a young mother does not have the time or money to see a psychologist regularly?
Many professionals consult by phone and online services. Such consultations will be no worse than in-person consultations, but will be much cheaper due to the lack of rental space. There is also free psychological help – you can get it on special sites where psychologists of different directions publish their questionnaires.
Many people are familiar with the situation when the light does not shine, when one does not want to do anything, when all joyful emotions disappear. And it is very difficult to catch the moment when the usual moping turns into a real depression. With real depression is almost impossible to cope without the intervention of specialists. With this test, you can determine how serious your condition is and whether you are prone to depression.
Why does maternity depression occur and how to deal with it?
It is not uncommon that the first months and years of motherhood, in addition to happy moments, bring problems of a psychological nature.
We are talking about depression during maternity leave, the occurrence of which affects about 25% of women, and some symptoms may be observed in more than half of mothers.
Often the woman herself and her close environment consider the problem far-fetched and not serious, as a result of which the young mother for a long time does not seek help from specialists, which only worsens the situation.
What is it?
Maternity depression is a state of depression and depression, which manifests itself in a reduced mood over a long period of time, loss of energy and indifference to everything that is going on.
Many women may experience some degree of symptoms, but this does not mean that they all have a depressive disorder.
For most mothers, the psyche will “normalize” on its own over time, adapting to the new conditions and rhythm of life.
What is characteristic of depression is the presence of symptoms for a long time and a woman’s inability to cope with her condition herself or, as she is often advised, to simply “pull herself together”. The help of specialists (often with the involvement of medication therapy) is required.
More often than not, it is women who are subjected to depression while on maternity leave. After the birth of a child, they are by their side, completely dissolving in him, adjusting their lives to his needs and requirements. However, in rare cases, this condition may arise in the child’s father or grandmother, if they assume all the functions of a mother, for example, in the event of her death, and just like that they devote their life to caring for the baby.
Maternity depression should be distinguished from postpartum depression, which can occur in the first days after the birth of the child and last for many months. Depression that occurs on maternity leave, most often catches mothers six months to a year after childbirth or even later.
Important ! Sometimes depression on maternity leave flows smoothly from the postpartum disorder, when the woman did not go to the doctor in time and did not receive adequate care.
The main mechanism of any depression is a disruption in the interaction between certain parts of the brain (the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex), caused by insufficient production of special proteins – neurotrophins.
Their amount, in turn, depends on the concentration of serotonin.
If this neurotransmitter is not produced enough, then the person becomes more anxious and depression develops. Thus, the depressed state during maternity leave can be quite clearly explained from the point of view of medical science. But it is not so simple.
Maternity depression occurs for many reasons.
- Changes in a woman’s hormonal background . After childbirth, the balance of hormones gradually returns to normal within a few months. For some, this process may take much longer and lead to noticeable discomfort from the nervous system.
- Diet . Often a woman who is breastfeeding refuses a number of products that are forbidden during the lactation period. As a result, she does not get the usual amount of vitamins and minerals, including those that affect mood.
- Accumulated physical fatigue and stress . The first years of a child’s life are a time when a woman is deprived of proper sleep and rest, which negatively affects her mental state. In some cases, pathological fatigue turns into stress, which requires treatment.
Loss of self . The mother is so dissolved into the child, that she ceases to be aware of herself as a person: what she wants and what she aspires to.
- Lack of assistance from her husband and relatives. The father has exactly the same rights and responsibilities for the upbringing and care of the child, but for some reason the main burden of responsibility falls on the fragile shoulders of women.
- Social isolation . While on maternity leave, a woman “drops out” of society. Her social circle changes and she loses her friendships. All of this has a negative impact on mental health.
What kind of moms are at risk?
Not all women who are on maternity leave are equally susceptible to developing a depressive disorder. There are factors that significantly increase the risk of developing depression. These include :
- A single mother . A woman raising a child without a husband, having to rely only on herself and provide for her own well-being, is more likely to experience physical fatigue, which affects her condition.
- A perfectionist woman. The so-called “otlichnitsa syndrome”, when a woman strives to be the best in everything, prevents her from taking a sensible look at her duties as a mother. Increased anxiety can be the beginning of depression.
- Unhealthy Child . If there is a disabled child in the family or just a baby who is often sick, this can also be a factor of constant stress for the mother.
- Small age difference between children (less than 5 years) . When a woman, after one childbirth and a difficult period of caring for a newborn, with sleepless nights and continuous involvement in communication with him, immediately gives birth to a second child, in fact, she does not give herself the opportunity to fully recover.
- A family in a difficult life situation . The lack of normal living conditions, the loss of work by the spouse, financial difficulties – all this will inevitably depress the woman, and depressive disorder will not make itself long wait.
Symptoms and their duration
The most important symptom of depression on maternity leave is a decrease in mood. From a woman’s life goes joy: from communication with the child, husband, relatives . She can no longer afford, as before, to go to a cafe with friends or take a leisurely stroll in the park alone.
In addition to a decreased emotional background a woman in the early stages of depression may be observed:
- problems with attention and memory (absent-mindedness and forgetfulness appear);
- difficulty falling asleep (in spite of fatigue);
- Loss of interest in the husband.
These symptoms may last for several months, building up smoothly or discontinuously. Ideally, already at this stage requires the assistance of a psychologist or psychotherapist.
If a woman ignores her condition, the depression may become deeper and extend over many months.
To the already existing symptoms will be added: a constant feeling of physical fatigue, increased anxiety, apathy, a pessimistic outlook on life.
You will definitely not be able to get rid of major depression on your own. It is necessary to seek medical help (with the connection of medicinal therapy).
If you don’t treat depression, it not only reduces the quality of life, but also destroys your personality. Unpleasant character traits may appear: anger, aggressiveness, cynicism and indifference. Few men can withstand life with a quarrelsome and perpetually dissatisfied with everything woman. The risk of divorce increases several times.
Physical health will suffer. Nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine system problems will occur. The development of cancerous diseases is possible.
Most importantly, next to the depressed mother must suffer children, they will begin to deteriorate behavior, lowered performance, will withdrawal and unwillingness to communicate with peers.
When should I seek help?
When the first symptoms appear (irritability, decreased mood, attention problems), contacting a psychologist or psychotherapist will help to normalize the woman’s condition.
Meetings should be regular (at least 1 to 2 times a week) and last for several months. Only then will there be tangible results.
Anxiety signs are associated with apathy, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, bouts of aggression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts. With deep depression, only a doctor (psychiatrist, neurologist) can help.
How do you get out?
The first (and most important) step is to admit the problem. It is not uncommon for a mother to try to pretend that everything is fine, thereby only driving the illness deeper and depleting her body’s resources.
If a woman comes to the realization that she has depression, the surest step – to see a doctor, ideally immediately to a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, in our society there is a widespread prejudice against these specialists, caused by fear of being registered or judged by others. There is no need to be afraid of anything. A competent doctor will help you choose antidepressants, which will help bring the woman’s condition back to normal.
In an extreme case, you can go to a neurologist, to work with individual symptoms (for example, insomnia), and the cause of depression associated with insufficient serotonin production will not be eliminated.
How do you help yourself?
A woman suffering from depression on maternity leave can try to get out of this condition on her own.
At the late stage of the disorder, of course, it will not be possible to do this, but when the first symptoms appear – the chances are quite high:
Regimen of the day and diet . Despite all the difficulties it is necessary to allocate time for sleep and rest. Duration of sleep should be at least 8 hours. A nutritious diet is also necessary.
Advice from a psychologist on the situation
- Allow yourself to be imperfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes and do not scold yourself for them too severely.
- Think positively . Maternity cannot last forever. Very soon the child will grow up, and the woman will even miss the days she spent with him.
- Be able to ask for and receive help. Actively involve your husband in parental responsibilities. Leave the child with grandparents.
- Be able to communicate with people. Do not withdraw into yourself, and find new friends. Be sure to get out of your familiar, but so boring “shell.
How not to get mad at her husband and others?
Sometimes it seems to women that the main victim of depression – she herself. This is partly true. But in the same way her family and friends suffer, especially at whom she snapped. To avoid this happening, you need to learn how to regulate their emotional state:
- Try to speak in a calm and even voice, especially with a child. If you really want to scream, it is better to go to a far corner of the apartment and let off steam there, but not with the help of yelling, but rather singing: “Aah!
- Count to 10 before making an aggressive lunge in someone’s direction.
- Be able to release the accumulated negativity in acceptable ways: cry alone (if you really want to), beat a pillow, etc.
- Make a diary and describe your condition in it (instead of complaining to the husband about a difficult day).
Video on the topic
How not to get depressed during maternity leave is told in the video:
No woman is immune from depression during maternity leave. The first symptoms may appear six months to a year after the birth of the child, and only get worse with time. Mood swings, difficulties with concentration, irritability should be alarming and become a reason to see a psychologist or psychotherapist.
If symptoms are ignored, depression will progress to a deeper stage, with the onset of insomnia, apathy and a complete loss of strength. In this condition, you need help from a psychiatrist with the selection of a course of antidepressants.
To help yourself get rid of depression, a woman should strictly observe the regime of the day, eat a full meal and be out in the fresh air. Positive attitude and faith in yourself will certainly help a young mother to find peace of mind and fully enjoy communicating with her child.