Postpartum Depression

Stigma about Postpartum Depression

The prevalence rate of PPD in Pakistan is the highest in Asia sitting at a whopping 63%. It is being described as a complex mental health problem that needs immediate attention. The duration of pregnancy and childbirth is supposed to be joyful but not everyone gets to experience that because many of the mothers have PPD.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 1 woman out of 9 experiences some symptoms of PPD. Unfortunately women do not generally tend to speak up about PPD. Early detection of the disease can lead to effective treatment but if it is not diagnosed, it can lead to harmful consequences for the mother and the infant.

Why Do Women Remain Silent?

Guilt seems to be the most common emotion felt by new mothers and which is what hinders them from getting help. When a woman becomes a mother, it is supposed to be a transitory role which is often not handled correctly. The sudden responsibility becomes overwhelming and lack of control over the events of pregnancy and delivery can often set in depression. When PPD leads to passivity in the mothers, the guilt of not doing the job well arises.

This phenomenon has been supported by many studies that found that many women feared they will be seen as bad caregivers. There is a general image that mothers are supposed to be ok post childbirth, some women are unable to comply with the image of the perfect motherhood and very quickly they fall into depression and experience humiliation and self-loathing. The destruction of self-image hinders them from reaching out and getting clinical help that they need for their disorder.

Moreover, many women believe that if their symptoms of PPD are exposed to the public, they will be compared to their predecessor or in western countries, children could possibly be taken away from their mother. Due to this intense fear, they do not come forward which only increases the degree of PPD.

Lack of awareness is one of the major reasons that women do not speak up about PPD. Researchers have found that there are some women who possess no knowledge of this disorder and hence give no importance to the symptom.

Ways to Neutralize the Stigma

The easiest way to eradicate the stigma is to raise awareness about PPD. Gynecologists, nurses and primary care doctors should inform all expecting and new mothers of this disorder, its symptoms and its treatments. It will help them recognize if they experience any symptoms and would encourage them to get proper help. Basic information on PPD should be given to mothers and their partners during gynecologists’ visits.


References

[1] CDC Features. (2018, May 14). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/maternal-depression/index.html

[2] Gulamani, S. S., Shaikh, K., &Chagani, J. (2013). Postpartum Depression in Pakistan.Nursing for Womens Health, 17(2), 147-152. doi:10.1111/1751-486x.12024

[3] Zauderer, C. (2009). Postpartum Depression: How Childbirth Educators Can Help Break the Silence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684038/