Author: ppdkenya

Risk Factors of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses. Research shows that PPD affects 20% of women after child birth, with higher rates in developing countries such as Kenya. In recent years, PPD has received a lot more attention, but the illnesses remain prevalent and untreated for the most part. This is why creating awareness and reducing the stigma of PPD is important. If you missed our last tweetchat on The Baby Blues and PPD, you can read it here.

Risk factors, just as the name suggests, refers to factors that increase the likelihood of a mom developing PPD. That is, what makes it more likely for mom A to get PPD and not mom B. The precise cause of PPD remains unclear, but it is thought to be linked to the sharp drop in hormone levels after childbirth. When this happens, alongside any of the risk factors mentioned below, then it means a mom is more likely to get PPD.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

One of the greatest risk factors for PPD is a history of depression and mental illness. Moms who have suffered depression before, or have lived with a mental illness are more likely to get PPD considering the physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy and child birth. Pregnancy depression, also known as antenatal depression, also increases the chances of PPD significantly, particularly in cases where it is left untreated.

Moms struggling with addiction to substance and alcohol abuse are also at a higher risk of PPD. This is because substances and alcohol may cause chemical changes in the brain, thus predisposing moms to the maternal mental illness. What’s more, addictions interfere with a mom’s ability to take care of themselves and the baby, increasing the intensity of the changes around the new mom.

Lack of support and/or prolonged isolation makes it easy for moms to develop Postpartum Depression. Without a solid support system to help a mom cope with the drastic changes following delivery, many new moms feel alone, isolated and often, overwhelmed. This is also the case for moms, especially young moms who get rejected by their families and/or father of their children.

Financial constraints/ lack of a job also increases the risk of PPD, for the simple reason that raising a child requires financial resources. From the cost of delivering to diapers, clinics, formula and everything in between, it is obvious that lack of money makes it harder for moms to adjust and certainly increases the likelihood of them developing PPD.

Read More: 10 things NOT to tell someone who is suicidal (and what you can say instead)

Major life events around the time of pregnancy and childbirth may also contribute to PPD. This is because they cause a major upheaval which adds on to the stress of raising a newborn (which is, in itself a major upheaval). Such life events include, but are not limited to job loss, buying a house, death of a loved one, divorce, relocating to a new town/country and the sudden change from a working mom to staying at home to take care of baby.

Moms who experience breastfeeding challenges are also more likely to get PPD, particularly in a society where there’s immense pressure to breastfeed. While we are cognizant of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, the truth is that not all moms can do it for a myriad of reasons (from medication to low milk production and terminal illness among others). With societal expectations that all moms should be able to breastfeed, it is little wonder that those who are unable to feel ashamed, and feel like they have failed their babies. This also ties in with the high cost of formula which, in cases of moms with no financial resources, may be out of reach, further increasing the chances of Postpartum Depression. It is important too, to mention that Breastfeeding has great benefits, but moms need to remember too, that is OKAY to supplement with formula.

Pregnancy complications such as Placenta previa, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Pre-eclampsia among others may lead to a traumatic birth experience which in turn is likely to contribute to PPD in new moms. This is also seen in moms who get multiples (twins, triplets, quadruplets etc), moms who get babies with special needs as well as those who have gotten kids following a miscarriage or infertility treatment.

It is important to remember that these are risk factors, and just because a mom has any of them does not necessarily mean she MUST get PPD. More importantly however, if you show any of these factors, it helps to speak to your doctor, gynae or midwife while still pregnant. This helps you to prepare for the journey, plan ahead and get medical treatment if necessary. Remember, PPD is treatable and you will be okay when you get help.

NOTE: PPDKenya is making a call out for moms with PPD, for those who would love to get therapy in a support group setting. We understand what you are going through and we will link you up with professionals who can help. More details here.

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The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression – What You Need to Know

One of the many questions we have received on our social media pages revolve around the baby blues and postpartum depression. Moms have reached out wanting to know whether there’s a difference between the two, and the need to ask for help. In line with our mission to raise awareness and reduce stigma on Postpartum depression (PPD), we had this topic for our second bi-monthly tweetchats. We defined the two conditions, looked at their symptoms as well as outlined the differences between the two (Find link to thread attached below, alongside our social media pages).

The baby blues, also referred to as postpartum baby blues, refer to a mild condition that many new moms will experience in the days following child birth. This condition is characterized by mood swings, crying spells, difficulty sleeping as well as an overall sense of fatigue as moms adjust to their new role of taking care of the baby.

Research shows that upto 80% of new moms struggle with the baby blues, usually beginning a day or two after birth. The precise cause of baby blues is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to the sudden drop in reproductive hormones after a baby is born. During pregnancy, progesterone hormone is at an all-time high, and this plummets immediately after birth. These chemical changes are thought to trigger mood swings as seen during baby blues.

The most important thing to remember about baby blues is that they are mild and shortlived, usually going away on their own after about a week or two. As such, they do not require any treatment.

PPD on the other hand, is a maternal mental health illness that affects up to 20% of new moms. According to research findings,PPD is the result of a complex interplay of genetics, sudden hormonal changes and external risk factors that lead to one of the most common maternal mental illnesses.

Genetics come in where some moms are predisposed to PPD because someone in the family – a mom, aunty, sister, cousin or gramdmother – suffered the same form of depression. This is also seen in cases where family members live with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or OCD among others.

Sudden hormonal changes on the other hand, also play a role in moms who develop PPD. As mentioned above, the sudden changes in hormonal levels leads to chemical changes in the brain, and this is a risk factor for Depression.

External risk factors refer to a myriad of issues or stressors that may place a given mom at a higher risk of PPD than another. these stressors include, but are not limited to previous child loss, an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, financial constraints, a traumatic birth experience and lack of a support system. Delivering a child with special needs has also been known to predispose moms to PPD.

In addition to this, new moms are constantly exhausted and suffer great sleep deprivation. This often causes physical pain and fatigue which makes it incredibly challenging to take care of a newborn. Many moms will admit that the changes in sleep patterns, coupled with the healing after birth (whether from natural delivery or a CSection) can worsen the symptoms of depression.

In contrast with baby blues, PPD is more severe, has more intense symptoms, lasts a longer period (up to one year after delivery) and will often require treatment to help a mom recover. the image below outlines the key differences between baby blues and PPD.

Baby blues are mild, short-lived and will usually go away on their own. PPD on the other hand, is more intense, lasts up to one year after delivery and will require treatment for moms to recover. More information on ppdkenya.com
the difference between baby blues and PPD

The most important thing for moms to remember is that it is not a fault of theirs that they struggle with maternal mental illness. PPD can affect any mom regardless of their social status/ age/ religion/ race/ sexual orientation/ marital status. There’s hope and affected moms need not struggle alone. Please reach out to us on email (ppdkenya@gmail.com) and we will help you get the help you need. We also run support groups in Nairobi (presently), and you can read more about that here.

Below are snippets of our second tweetchat on baby blues and PPD. Get the whole thread here, and while at it, please follow us too 🙂

 

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We started our bimonthly PPDKenya tweetchats!

PPDKenya tweetchat

We are excited to share that we began our bimonthly tweetchats this past week. In line with our mission to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with maternal mental health in Kenya, the tweetchats will be centered around the same, with focus on postpartum depression, The bimonthly chats, which will be held every other Wednesday from 1:30-2:30PM EAT will cover an array of topics, from the symptoms, to risk factors, treatment options, importance of support groups and self care among others. From time to time, we will also bring on board professionals who will steer the discussions as regards PPD and issues such as breastfeeding, body image, relationships and infertility. We look forward to having everyone of our readers on board.

Follow us on Twitter: @PPDKenya

Join in using #PPDKenya

aaaaaand, in case you missed it, here are snapshots of our first tweetchat whose topic was Maternal Mental Health Illnesses. Follow the thread on this tweet for the whole chat.

We looked at six illnesses under maternal mental health care, including Antenatal depression, Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum OCD, Bipolar disorder, peripartum onset and Postpartum Psychosis. This chat broadly covered the symptoms and treatment options, and we shall delve deeper in weeks to come.

And a reminder:

Please do not be afraid to reach out, Get in touch with us, we run support group therapy and have contacts of health professionals who can help you. Details for our next tweetchat below:

PPDKenya tweetchatDate: Wednesday 30th May 2018, from 1:30PM EAT

Topic: Postpartum Depression  & Baby Blues

 

 

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10 things NOT to tell someone who is suicidal (and what you can say instead)

There is nothing as dreadful, as scary, as heart-wrenching as hearing someone say the words,

“I want to kill myself”

These are words you do not want to hear, at all. What do you do from that point? How do you help? What do you say, and more importantly, what shouldn’t you say? As scary as this scenario is, hearing this words is a subtle gift that a friend who is struggling gives. It is their way of crying for help, it is their way of giving you an opportunity to help in their journey, as hard as it is. Your response is critical as it could either be an doorway to healing, or it could be the end as they know it. Granted, it is an emotional moment and you may not be sure how to respond. Below are 10 common (cliché, need I add?) responses that only make it harder for suicidal people to speak up and ask for help.

NOTE: While these responses/questions are generally deemed to cast judgement on the affected, a number of people may respond in the positive. Secondly, in as much as you can help by been present, it is important to get medical attention immediately. Do not hesitate to do so. Check out this page that has suicide crisis helplines in Kenya.

 

  1. “Suicide is for weaklings”

The truth of the matter is, by the time someone is getting to the point of struggling with suicidal thoughts, they have already gone through so much. By the time one is searching on how to die by suicide, all rationality is gone and that statement is a cry for help. Saying suicide is for weaklings invalidates their feelings and only causes one who is struggling to keep to themselves – with dire consequences.

Instead: You can let them know you care instead. Assure them of your love and compassion. Be present. Stay with them. Offer a hug – it creates a safe space for someone who is suicidal

 

  1. “It is all in your head – snap out of it”

This is another common response given from an ignorant point of view. Depression and suicide are conditions that affect the mind. The mind does get sick, just as the physical body does. Do we tell people suffering from diabetes to snap out of it? There you have it. Additionally, people who are not aware of mental health illnesses have the warped view that suicidal people are doing it for ‘attention’ – which is absolutely wrong.

Instead: It is better to admit that you may not understand what they are going through, but that you will offer to be present and seek help for them.

Read More: Support Group Therapy for moms with PPD

 

  1. “You should be grateful. There are people who have it worse”

I hate to burst the bubble, but someone who is suicidal has likely thought about that already – and it feels like they can never measure up. This only adds to their brokenness because, while they are well aware they ought to be grateful, their mind just cant reconcile that with the utter hopelessness and emptiness that they feel.

Instead: Show empathy. You may not understand, but that doesn’t give you permission to be insensitive.

 

  1. “Suicide is selfish. Think about your family/kids/loved ones”

Suicide is NOT selfish.

Suicide is NOT selfish.

And there’s a reason why. Suicidal people genuinely feel worthless and absolutely hopeless. They feel like there’s nothing to leave for, and worst of all, feel like a burden to the very people you are asking them to think about. The mind convinces them the world would be a better place without them. Telling them suicide is selfish not only invalidates their struggle, it also makes it less likely to ask for help again.

Instead: Ask how to help, find out what they need and check up on them constantly.

 

  1. “But your life is not that bad, how can you think of suicide?”

Truth is that there are invisible scars that suicidal people carry which you may never ever get to see. The pain is underneath – whether it is getting molested by an uncle, getting raped by a work colleague, losing one’s family or even a still birth. On the outside, it may seem all okay, but the pains and ache remain etched in their minds forever. Asking how someone can think of suicide speaks of disbelief and judgement, not empathy.

Instead: sometimes, all you can do is listen and be present.

Read More: 5 celebrities who have struggled with PPD

  1. “You are not praying enough”

I can’t stop saying it, but, this is simply belittling someone’s struggles. It is likely that the depression/ mental health condition that has gotten them to the point of been suicidal has not allowed them to be able to pray in the first place. Telling someone they have not prayed enough/ do not have faith is just judgemental.

Instead: Consider affirming your love and support to someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. Taking a minute can save a life.

 

  1. “You will go to hell”

Regardless of one’s religion, telling someone they will go to hell when they are suicidal only enhances the feeling of isolation and loneliness (which in many cases, only pushes them over the edge). In any case, the judgemental attitude does not show any compassion or empathy.

Instead: It helps to assure a suicidal person that their thoughts are not permanent (even if the person believes that they are), and then to offer a listening ear without any judgement. This offers hope and communicates empathy.

 

  1. “ Don’t do anything stupid”

This is a very dismissive response for the simple reason that it takes away from the importance and the urgency of someone’s struggles. Often, such a statement only alienates a person even more. You may be worried/ concerned – rightly so, but whatever you do, don’t dismiss it as simply stupidity.

Instead: You may ask, “I have heard you mention suicide, and I am concerned about you. Are you safe? I want to reach out to you, know I am here for you”

 

  1. “How’d you want to hurt me like that?”

First, this is not about you. Secondly, it is likely that someone who is suicidal knows that their absence is going to hurt you and their loved ones. It already makes them feel terrible. Getting them on a guilt trip is counterproductive, and often exacerbates the alienation.

Instead:  You could say, I am sorry that you are struggling and hurting. But I will be here for you. You matter. You mean a lot (to me)

 

  1. Aaaand finally, one of the most cliché statements: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

At face value, this statement ‘sounds’ right, but a closer look reveals it is a fallacy, a popular one at that. First, the statement seems to suggest that suicide is a ‘solution’, and also belittles one’s problem as merely temporary. What of chronic mental health disorders, lifetime diseases and emotional scars?

The bottomline: When someone opens up to you about suicide ideation, it means that they have found a safe space in you. Responding harshly not only makes it harder to speak up, it also alienates them further. Granted, you may feel disappointed, hurt, embarrassed, even betrayed – but how you respond can make a big difference.

PS: This article was inspired by my last post which you can read here. I am, by no means, a health expert, but I struggled with suicide ideation and thoughts of harming my baby when I had Postpartum Depression. Some of the above statements are things I was told when I shared about my thoughts – and I switched off. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel alienated in their struggle with depression, so I put up this list with insight from the following websites:

Speaking of suicide

Purple Persuasions

The Mighty Site

 

PS: Do not struggle alone, reach out for help. Use the contact page or get in touch through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

 

 

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5 Celebrities who have opened up about their struggles with Postpartum Depression

Chrissy Teigen opens up about her PPD journey after Luna

Maternal mental health is an important part of public health, and a major challenge across the world. According to WHO, 13% of women who have just delivered will suffer some form of mental disorder. This figure is known to be higher in developing countries where the statistics paint a grim picture of 19.8% of women affected after child birth. In extremely severe cases, many moms die by suicide following unaddressed mental health challenges.

It is important to mention that postpartum depression (PPD), one of the most common perinatal mood disorders, can affect anyone including celebrities. Contrary to popular belief, the risk factors associated with PPD do not exempt the rich and famous. A number of celebrity moms have gone public with their PPD stories. I am an advocate for celebrity moms creating a shift with this because it is a loud message to the ‘ordinary’ mom that motherhood may not always be a glowing bubble.

Read More: ‘Free PPD Test’ – The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS)

Adele

Adele opened up about her struggles with Postpartum Depression in an interview with Vanity Fair. She admits to having bad PPD and been so scared. She made a point to add that it helps one become a better mom to cut themselves some slack and take some time off. In her words,

“My knowledge of postpartum—or post-natal, as we call it in England—is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

American actress and singer,Paltrow has admitted to struggling with PPD following her son’s birth in 2006. In an interview with People, the mom of two confessed to feeling nothing, and having no maternal instincts for her son. She added that, while she harbored no thoughts of harm, she did not experience the blissful doting emotions either.

“I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.”

Fortunately for Paltrow, support from her husband helped her on the journey to recovery.

Read More: WE celebrated with PPDKenya support group cycle 01!

Kendra Wilkinson

In an interview with OK!, Kendra, a reality TV star and mother of two spoke in detail about experiencing PPD after her son’s birth. Her account shows that PPD does manifest in different forms, and can be a very subtle thing. For many affected moms, there is little energy to do the most basic of daily tasks, and this includes showering and combing hair.

“After giving birth, I never brushed my hair, my teeth, or took a shower. I looked in the mirror one day and was really depressed.”

Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen wears many feathers on her hat: model, TV host, best -selling cookbook author and mother. It is the latter that has, in 2017, endeared her to many moms following her admission that she struggled with PPD after giving birth to her daughter Luna. In her candid interview with Glamour, Chrissy wrote,

“I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy. What basically everyone around me—but me—knew up until December was this: I have postpartum depression. How can I feel this way when everything is so great?”

She goes on to add some of the symptoms she had:

“Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful. My lower back throbbed; my ­shoulders—even my wrists—hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me… I also just didn’t think it could happen to me.”

She admits to never leaving the house and spending days on end on the couch, with endless bouts of spontaneous tears before she was finally diagnosed with PPD and postpartum anxiety. Chrissy got professional help, medication and had a support system especially from her man, John Legend.

Chemutai Sage

Locally, Chemutai Sage, a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist went public about her struggles with PPD. In an interview with MumsVillage, the singer mentioned realizing something was amiss when her daughter was about 5 months. During this period, she would experience crazy emotions which she often associated with her child. She kept thinking to herself,

“If I didn’t have the baby…”

In the MumsVillage show, Sage shared that she did realize these were not commonplace emotions, something which got more pronounced with her inability to leave her room for days – there was simply no joy in doing so. Sage did get help, and had a strong support system that helped her in her recovery journey.

Read More: Blackish addresses PPD in Season 4

This post is a reminder that, if you are struggling with PPD, you are not alone. By speaking openly about this form of maternal disorder, celebrities amplify the voices of many moms who may be going through the motions in silence. Remember too, that you can get in touch (via the contact page) if you are wondering where to get help or need someone to talk to.

 

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