Narrative: Sudha's behavior changed considerably, after the baby was born

Postpartum depression is a temporary illness and is treatable

By Dr Preeti S

Sudha, 32, had everything she wanted in life. A great job, a loving, kind, and responsible husband, a beautiful home and fantastic friends. She was cheerful, talkative, and at the same time, sensitive to others. But there was one thing her heart would always pine for. It was a deep rooted maternal instinct of wanting to have children.

The couple had tried everything for conception, but somehow Sudha could not conceive. Months passed by, and after a few treatments and medication, Sudha finally became pregnant. They were overwhelmed with joy and were ready to take on the new role as parents.

A beautiful baby boy was born and the entire family rejoiced. After a few days, there was a noticeable change in Sudha's behavior. She had become very snappy, irritable and often would quarrel with her husband.

She would wake up in the middle of the night and cry most of the time. Her husband realized that Sudha needed help and met the local psychiatrist.

When the doctor assessed Sudha's condition in detail, she confided to the doctor that after the baby was born, things were not the same. She felt sad, extremely tired, hopeless and had no joy in looking after the baby. In fact, she had no attachment towards the baby. She didn’t see the point of living. Sudha had also lost weight from a loss of appetite.

After evaluating all these symptoms, the psychiatrist made a primary diagnosis of postpartum depression.is the depression that affects the mother after the delivery of the child and is quite common. Hormonal variations, lack of sleep, apprehension about becoming a mother, genetic factors or even first pregnancies may contribute to such illness.

Timely intervention is required when the husband or other family members observe such behavior in  the new mother. The new mother would require a lot of emotional support from her husband. Understanding her emotions, her negative feelings and just being with her and supporting her goes a long way in helping the mother recover quickly and enjoy the joys of motherhood. If symptoms worsen, she will require counseling and medications.

This fictional narrative was compiled by Dr Preeti S, a psychiatrist  who practices at Spandana Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Science (SIMHANS), Bangalore.

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