New mothers should seek help if depression strikes
It is sad to read about someone faced with postpartum depression (PPD) making the choice to end both her life and that of her child (Do more to help new mothers handle stress from work and baby: Coroner; ST Online, May 9).
It is normal for most new mothers to experience symptoms of postpartum blues (PPB) in the first few weeks following delivery.
For most mothers, PPB does resolve. However, for others, it may escalate into PPD, and it grips them strongly.
Despite well-intentioned advice from others to simply “cheer up”, people with PPD require professional help, support and treatment.
About 15 per cent to 20 per cent of new mothers suffer from PPD. Symptoms include thinking others are secretly angry with them, not wanting to be around anyone, feeling alone, feeling unreasonably jealous of the baby, and having suicidal thoughts.
Research from The Gottman Institute suggests a positive correlation between strong marital relationships as protective factors against PPB or PPD.
They can happen to anyone, even celebrities.
Gwyneth Paltrow shared about how she did not feel like a doting mother after her son Moses was born. She remembered feeling like a robot and had no emotional attachment towards him. She said her problem was not recognising the symptoms earlier.
Drew Barrymore spoke to People Magazine about how she felt great when her first child was born, but when it came to her second child, PPD hit her.
These are just two of the many celebrities speaking out about what they faced. They shared to lend support to other parents and hope to break the stigma about seeking help.
PPB or PPD is not a lonely journey.
Those who suspect that they or their loved ones have PPD should speak to a counsellor.
Those who are preparing for a child, should start by preparing both physically and emotionally, strengthening their mental relationship.
The best gift parents can give their newborn is a strong, resilient relationship that weathers any transition.
Lai Mun Loon
Head, Professional Services
EMCC (Eagles Mediation and Counselling Centre)