How to tackle postnatal depression- a condition that’s long been ignored



Postnatal depression is a type of depression and a common psychological condition, affecting more than 1 in 10 women after giving birth.

It can affect any woman, women with problematic pregnancies, easy pregnancies, first- time mothers or mothers with more than one child.

Postnatal depression can happen to any woman irrespective of age, income, ethnicity and education.

It is intriguing to know that postnatal depression can be experienced by fathers too and is referred to as ‘paternal postnatal depression’.

Postnatal depression can start anytime within the first year of giving birth.

Risk factors for postnatal depression

  1. A history of depression prior to becoming pregnant
  2. Family history of depression
  3. A change in hormone levels after childbirth
  4. Marital conflict/single motherhood
  5. First- time motherhood, very young or older motherhood
  6. Having a baby with special needs (medical illness, premature birth etc)
  7. Inability to lactate: Women who have had difficulty in breastfeeding are more likely to develop symptoms of postnatal depression
  8. Limited social support/ lack of emotional support
  9. Constant pressures and negative criticism by partner or family
  10. Death of a loved one/ bereavement
  11. Financial or employment problems
  12. Work stress

What can be done?

  1.  Contact/connect:  Do not face postnatal depression alone, contact a mental health practitioner or primary health care provider for a referral.
  2. Speak up and keep up your support system: Talk overtly about your thoughts and feelings with your spouse, mother, family members, or a trusted friend.
  3. Do not manage everything on your own: Invite a relative or a friend to help you out with the baby.
  4. Set realistic goals: Do not overburden yourself with less important things to do on a daily basis. Do not entertain every suggestion that comes your way, find the ones that best suits you. This helps in reducing anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  5. Join a support group that is exclusive for new mothers.
  6. Sleep: Get as much as sleep as you possibly can, rest when your baby rests, take quick naps whenever you find time.
  7. Follow a healthy diet plan suggested by a postnatal nutritionist.
  8. As soon as your health care provider gives you an okay signal, start postnatal exercise, take walks in nature, practice postnatal yoga (modified, low intensity yoga practice)

Last but not the least, practice stress management: Techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing and healthy visualization exercises can help relieve symptoms.