How to cope with post-partum depression during COVID-19?

Woman dealing with Post-Partum Depression During COVID-19

Dr Jean Pious, Gynecologist, Aster Medical Centre C Ring Road & Al Khor (Qatar)

Women who become mothers during the COVID-19 era are likely at higher risk for poor mental health outcomes because of the anxiety and depression. The transition into motherhood is a vulnerable one. Research and studies have found that women are more at risk of experiencing anxiety or depression during pregnancy than at any other time in their lives in this period, especially due to new challenges.

Many of them will experience a postpartum mood disorder and women who struggle with anxiety or depression may continue to experience symptoms throughout her life. In the era of social distancing, the support systems that usually promote mental health during the vulnerable transition into motherhood, such as social support from family members and friends are missing. This makes new mothers even more at risk for mental health issues.

There are other factors that may contribute to increased rates of post-partum mood disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well. They include:

  • Stay-at-home mandatory situations like lockdown
  • Wondering when the pandemic will be over and when life can go back to normal
  • Worrying about catching the virus or a loved one catching it
  • Worrying about transmitting the virus to your baby
  • Hospitals limiting or banning birth support persons like husband, mother etc.
  • Having to rethink and rescheduling your expectations about your birth experience and days after delivery
  • Worrying about picking up COVID-19 while in the hospital and during follow-ups
  • Being pregnant and having other young children to care for

The symptoms of anxiety and depression can include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Irritability
  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Losing interest in things that used to bring you joy
  • Worrying about things you did not use to worry about
  • Feeling sad or stressed

How to overcome postpartum mood disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Communicate with family & friends: Support of family and friends is extremely important to ladies with postpartum depression. One should not hide the symptoms but try and discuss with relatives, friends and loved ones.

Connect with your loved ones digitally: There are plenty of tools available for you to video chat with family and friends. Phone calls are good as well, but video chats will help strengthen your connection with others from the safety of your home using your phone, tablet or computer.

Lifestyle Changes: You’ve already made changes during your pregnancy, but there are other important lifestyle changes you should consider as a mother. These tips may be especially helpful if you are suffering from depression or anxiety.

Seek professional help: Reaching out to professional doctors and therapists is highly important and recommended. Many doctors are now using telemedicine to connect with their patients. This allows you to receive care from the safety and comfort of your home. Medication, typically antidepressants, may be prescribed to help manage your PPD or PPA in conjunction with other treatments. These may take a couple weeks to become fully effective.

Eat healthy & exercise:  Eat well, get adequate rest and include physical activity, such as a walk with your baby, in your daily routine. Exercise releases endorphins which combat stress and can boost your mood.

Make time for yourself: Remember, taking care of your baby includes taking care of yourself. Do something that you enjoy, such as crafting, solving a puzzle, listening to music or watching your favorite movie.

Avoid over exposure to sensational media: Ensure your media intake is reliable and limited. Try not to watch the news while you are going to bed or immediately after waking up.

Remember, taking care of your emotional needs and adapting to new ways to stay socially connected can not only help you stay calm and be happier but can also reduce unnecessary pressure on your immune system.