Thursday, December 8, 2016

Article on Happy TV: Postnatal Depression; Write About It, Talk About It

Dear all,

Do read my article on the above matter, here on HAPPY TV.


Women don’t have it easy, they have menstrual periods every month where some of them have cramps in their stomach; and when they have menopause, they have mood swings and get irritable.  Added to that, when women are in the family way, they may go through Postpartum Depression.  All these issues, their male partners must fully understand so that the relationship can blossom.

Like many types of mental illness, education on postpartum depression is also necessary to prevent the loss of life – be it for the mother or her child.  The greatest gift that God has given mankind is a child. 

A young nurse dies

It was heart-wrenching to read of how a young nurse in Canada lost her life in what was thought to be of her suffering from Postpartum Depression in the article “Another First-Time Mom with Postpartum Depression Takes Her Own Life” 

Our prayer must go out to her husband and all family members as they try to cope with grief, and rebuild their lives.

Movie actress Brooke Shields struggled with Postpartum Depression.

You would think that a beautiful woman like actress Brooke Shields who played a lead role in the of the movie “Blue lagoon” and who is happily married to a doting husband seemingly has it all – and there was nothing in the world that would make her depressed. Think again.  Following the birth of her child was born, Shields had to fight the "mother lode" of emotional battles: a crippling bout with postpartum depression.

After giving birth two years ago, Shields was not singing lullabies in the pleasing voice that has earned her rave reviews on Broadway. Nor was she learning how to swaddle her newborn girl, Rowan Francis, named after her late father, Francis Shields.

When she was struggling with postpartum depression, Shields  found herself staring out of the window of her fourth-floor Manhattan apartment, contemplating suicide.

"I really didn't want to live anymore," she admitted.  During that painful period, she revealed candidly that seeing a window was enough to prompt her to think, "'I just want to leap out of my life!” But the rational side of her told her, “You're only on the fourth floor. You'll get broken to bits and then you will be even worse.'"

When it rains, it really pours.

There will be times when it rains, it really pours. Another risk factor for postpartum depression is a temporary upheaval, such as the death of a loved one. For Shields, this was her father, who lost his fight with prostate cancer just three weeks before his namesake was born. She was also still mourning the death of her best friend and Suddenly Susan co-star David Strickland, who committed suicide in 1999.

You’ve got a friend.

Sharing experiences with those who have walked the journey can make a huge difference in reclaiming or saving a life. The words "postpartum depression" didn't mean much to the actress  at first, but it finally hit home when a virtual stranger told her about the guilt, shame, and reclusiveness that were connected to postpartum depression – the same symptoms she had struggled with since the baby was born.

Writing a good way to heal; to educate.

One of the most effective ways of raising awareness of mental health issues is to write about it. Now, two years later and seriously considering having more children, Shields is doing what she can to remove this stigma in her new book, “Down Came the Rain”.

Tragedy – on home ground.

Closer to home, the tragedy that took place at a HDB block at Fajar Road in which a 29-year-old woman and her three-month-old daughter fell to their death, shocked many of us and brought tears to my eyes as described in the report “I feel sad a baby is dead” (The New Paper, Nov 24, 2016).

Although life is precious and must be valued, when people are unable to cope with challenges and do not reach out for help, lives will be lost.

After they give birth, women could experience physical changes and emotional issues as follows:

♦  Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the woman’s body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by her thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave the mother feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.

♦ Emotional issues. When the woman is deprived of sleep and overwhelmed, she may have trouble handling even minor problems which in other times she can handle easily. She may be anxious about her ability to take care of her newborn. Even begin to feel less attractive, struggle with her sense of identity or in the worst-case scenario, believe that she has lost control of her life.  Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression and that includes relationship problems.

Doctors and counselors should team up to support and educate pregnant women.

To ensure that women who are in the family way have better coping mechanisms, there is a dire need for gynaecologists to team up with counsellors to educate women on postpartum depression and then take the opportunity to find out if they have any problems which they are unable to cope with.  It would also be useful to educate the spouse or other family members on postpartum depression where printed information can be handed out.

Finally, education on this matter through other platforms such newspapers, television and radio will prove useful to save and reclaim lives.

Raymond Anthony Fernando



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