The World Health Organization declared April 7, as World Health Day. Established in 1950, this awareness day is an opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic that affects everyone around the world.
This year’s theme is depression. Depression is a mental health disorder that affects a person’s mood. Mood disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the general population. According to Stats Canada, almost one in eight adults identified symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. Studies have consistently documented higher rates of depression among women than among men with a 2:1 ratio respectively.
Let’s talk about postpartum depression. Postpartum depression has been cited as far back as 4th century BC, yet it has not always been recognized as an illness. It is for this reason, postpartum depression is underreported and continues to be underdiagnosed. It is estimated that around 20 per cent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. Family history or personal history of depression and anxiety, as well as perfectionistic personality types tend to be more susceptible to postpartum depression.
Early detection is integral to treating this prevalent condition.
Some common symptoms include:
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Inability to enjoy baby as much as you think you should
- Inability to enjoy much of anything
- Anxiety, especially about the baby’s schedule and wellbeing
- Loss of appetite or craving foods that you wouldn’t normally crave e.g. overeating junk food
- Extreme fatigue
Many of the above symptoms may be mistaken for normal symptoms of pregnancy or of being a new mother. One of the most tell-tale signs of depression that is usually brushed off as normal maternal woes is trouble with sleeping. There may be an underlying problem when moms find it difficult to fall asleep even while the baby is fast asleep. Sleep is very important and it’s recommended for parents to have four to six hours of uninterrupted sleep. Lack of sleep can have huge effects on mood.
The Reproductive Mental Health
clinic located at BC Women’s is committed to helping women and their families receive the proper care for mental wellbeing. The interdisciplinary team consists of psychiatrists, clinical counsellors, nurse clinicians, social workers and dieticians to provide families with a multifaceted approach to care. The program offers educational resources, access to group therapy, and uses a variety of treatment options that include cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness. Social workers at the clinic can also help with sleep training babies to allow parents more time for rest.
Self-care is emphasized when treating postpartum depression using the acronym NESTS.
NESTS stands for: nutrition, exercise, sleep, time for self and support.
If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing signs of depression, talk to someone and seek help. Shame and guilt prevent people from seeking help and can also be signs of depression. Visit the Reproductive Mental Health clinic’s list of resources
for more information on how to seek help.