Very little is said about postpartum depression in Russia: for the sake of the official demographic policy, doctors usually keep silent about the problems that a woman may face after having a child. Info24 prepared this material for the already held and for expectant mothers and fathers.
In the media, the term "postpartum depression" appeared this week in connection with the tragedy in Moscow: the mother of two children, Lyudmila Sokolova, committed suicide. The youngest daughter Lyudmila died, the eldest son was seriously injured. The woman left a note asking not to blame her husband for what happened. Lyudmila's spouse is in a state of shock.
For information about postpartum depression, we turned to Ksenia Krasilnikova, who went through this difficult experience. Xenia realized that something was wrong with her soon after giving birth: she did not sleep, did not eat, suffered from guilt, anxiety, cried a lot, and the child inspired her with fear. Miraculously, the young mother realized that she should seek help. After six months of treatment in a hospital and a year of taking special drugs, the disease subsided, Ksenia armed herself with expert support and scientific information on the topic and wrote a book “Not Just Tired. How to recognize and overcome postpartum depression. With the permission of the publisher, we publish an excerpt from Ksenia's book, her FAQ on postpartum depression and a checklist - it is addressed to young fathers and all men who have recently given birth to relatives or girlfriends.
The disorder develops under the influence of several groups of factors at once: biochemical, physiological, psychological, hormonal and social. But it is still not fully known why some develop depression, while others do not. Postpartum disorders can affect even the most mentally stable and calm women who have never faced such problems before. They happen to mothers who stay at home and mothers who go to work. They are found in women who live in a happy and stable marriage, and in those who often quarrel with their husbands, as well as single mothers. They develop in women who love their children more than life. Postpartum depression can occur after the birth of the first or eighth child. It happens that women from risk groups do not face depression, and those who do not have any prerequisites for the disorder suffer from it in the most severe form. The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. What mood is normal for a young mother? Shouldn't she be happy? It's just a myth that a young mother is a happy, fluttering woman who blooms and radiates love and warmth to the world. Any young mother is in a state of constant stress. Most likely, she does not sleep enough, she has a huge load, she has a baby who screams very often, the level of stress is growing. You have to deal with everyday life at the same time when you have no strength at all. Even if it is happiness, this happiness is accompanied by specific difficulties. Motherhood is tough, physically and emotionally. Mother usually has no time for herself.
So the "normal" mood of a young mother can be different. But if difficult days do not give way to days when it is easier, if there is no joy, but only oppressive melancholy, if bad anxious thoughts constantly creep into your head, your appetite is disturbed and there is no sleep, and all this happens not for a week or two, but longer - this may be a symptom that the woman is not just tired. A child needs a lot of care. How can you help your wife / girlfriend? First of all, it is worth asking the question: "What can help you?" Find out exactly what actions you need to take to relieve her condition. Take the baby so she can go to bed? Call grandma for help? Prepare food for the week? Do the cleaning? Invite her to the cinema? Take a vacation from work? It is unlikely that her desires will seem impracticable to you. It is important that she is confident that she can count on you. You are as much a parent to a child as she is.
If she does have depression after childbirth, it is important not to devalue her feelings and condition. It is important to seek professional help on time. What to say to support: “I'm with you. You are not alone . One of the signs of depression is a feeling of total loneliness, which is very difficult to live with. Listen to her. Tell her that you believe in her and you will be there no matter what happens. She perfectly understands that now you have a big burden of responsibility, and she is scared that you will get tired of this and leave her.
- "Yes, it's very hard for you." Admit that it is difficult for her now in a way that it may have never been. Your understanding and non-judgment can make her feel better.
- "We will find help." What needs to be said at the very beginning, at the first manifestations of the disorder.
- “The child will be all right. I'll take care of that. In the book, I describe in detail how the loved ones of a woman who has experienced postpartum depression can influence the formation of a child's personality. In short: if your baby has at least one reliable adult, you don't have to worry about him. Fatigue, mood swings, depression: how to understand that something is wrong with her? In short: he does not sleep or sleeps a lot, but he does not get enough sleep, there is no surge of strength, impaired appetite - either does not eat at all, or eats constantly, very high anxiety, tearfulness, aggression, guilt, inability to experience joy. If these symptoms last more than two weeks and statements that can be interpreted as suicidal intentions are added to them, you need to seek help without delay. She seems to be depressed. What should and should not be done? Depression is treated with psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of medication and therapy. Hospitalization is needed only for women in serious condition.
There are a number of things that should not be said to a woman in a depressed state: "Get this stupid out of your head", "How can it be hard for you?", "Stop worrying so much." A person facing postpartum depression has little control over their feelings and thoughts. Believe me, if she could, she would not think about the bad and instantly get rid of difficult experiences.
"Get a hold of yourself". She dreams of pulling herself together and subordinating her state to willpower. But he cannot do this, which makes him suffer even more. Do not ask her to do what she is not able to do.
"What kind of mother are you!" When depressed, it can be really difficult to fully care for a child. Most likely, she herself considers herself a bad mother, because she cannot begin to experience the pleasure of motherhood in any way. And it is especially hard for her to hear such accusations from loved ones. Any accusations or hints that she "should" quickly cope with her condition will not cheer up or benefit. Psychologist, psychiatrist - you can't do without them? Not enough. Although according to statistics, less than half of the sick women seek professional help. They do not have enough money, there are no qualified specialists dealing with depression treatment around, being depressed, in the opinion of society, is “shameful, indecent” - that is why women do not ask for help when needed.
In about one to two cases per 1,000 births, women develop psychoses. Symptoms occur almost immediately after the birth of a child: these are sudden mood swings, confusion and pronounced cognitive impairments that are similar to delusions (false judgments and inferences that cannot be corrected), bizarre behavior, insomnia, visual and auditory hallucinations. Psychosis is the most dangerous disease that requires the immediate intervention of a psychiatrist and, most often, hospitalization. All of these are treatable.
How to understand that something is wrong with a woman after childbirth?
Here is a list of specific symptoms to look out for after your wife, girlfriend, sister, or acquaintance has given birth. The list is based on depression data. Feelings of sadness / emptiness / shock.
Tearfulness for no apparent reason.
Fatigue and lack of energy, which is not replenished, even if you managed to sleep for a long time.
The inability to enjoy what used to be a joy - a massage, a hot bath, a good movie, a quiet candlelight conversation, or a welcome meeting with a friend (the list is endless).
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions. I can't concentrate, words don't come to my mind when I need to say something.
Anxiety or excessive anxiety. It becomes a background experience, from which neither sedative medications nor relaxing procedures completely eliminate. Someone during this period is afraid of specific things: the death of loved ones, funerals, terrible accidents; others feel unreasonable terror.
Sullenness, irritability, feelings of anger or rage. A child, husband, relatives, friends - anyone can enrage.
Unwillingness to see family and friends.
Difficulty forming an emotional bond with the child, doubts about their ability to care for the child.
Constant sleepiness or, conversely, the inability to fall asleep, even when the child is asleep. Other sleep disorders may occur
Loss of appetite: the woman is either constantly hungry, or cannot fit even a small amount of food into herself.
Complete lack of interest in sex.
Headache and muscle pain.
Feeling hopeless. Thoughts about hurting yourself and / or your child. The state becomes so unbearable that consciousness begins to look for a way out, sometimes the most radical.
Thoughts that it is better to die than to continue to experience all these feelings. Remember, if your friend has suicidal thoughts, she urgently needs help. Each parent may have one or two of the symptoms listed above, but these are usually followed by moments of well-being and optimism. Those who suffer from postpartum depression often find most of the symptoms, sometimes all at once, and they do not go away for weeks.
If you notice four or more manifestations from the list and realize that your loved one has been living with them for more than two weeks, this is a reason to seek help from a doctor. Remember that the diagnosis of "postpartum depression" can only be made by a specialist, and by no means a book or article on the Internet.
Where to go for help
The Moscow psychological aid service provides several free consultations - 8 (499) 173-09-09. Round-the-clock psychological assistance in Moscow - 051 from a mobile. All-Russian telephone of psychological help - 8 (800) 333-44-34.
A psychotherapist from St. Petersburg Maria Budylina founded a charity project "Help for tired mothers". The project has opened a hotline for calls from all over Russia, its number is 8-800-222-05-45.
“Our project consists of three parts: volunteer assistance to mothers at home in St. Petersburg, a hotline throughout Russia and support groups for mothers, also in St. Petersburg. The hotline receives the most calls. Suicidal appeals, if they do, are in the form of calls. There are not many such appeals, but they are: women themselves are afraid of these thoughts, and speak aloud only when they are already brought to extreme emotional exhaustion. In society, the topic is hushed up, because people are afraid of it, as if talking about it could provoke suicide,”she told Info24.
According to Maria, during the year the project's hotline received only 5-6 calls from women who spoke about their suicidal thoughts.
“But every call is life. Psychotherapists have a rule - if the client touched on this topic, it should not be hushed up, because it is the silence that carries the risks. It is in a frank conversation that we can reach out to a woman's needs, discuss them and look for solutions. I think that the main thing is that the mother should feel entitled to ask for help at home or with her baby. Here, after all, it’s like: “you gave birth to yourself, so take it out”, “you wanted a child - here you’re getting it”, “you like to ride, love and carry sledges”. We like to educate very much and for the idea of upbringing they lose empathy, empathy, the expediency of their upbringing. It's like forcing a child with a temperature to do homework: yes, these are his lessons, his responsibility, but his condition also needs to be taken into account,”says Maria.