Postnatal depression, a silent killer

By Fungai Jachi

POSTNATAL depression (PND) is an emerging psychiatric issue and a devastating public health challenge that has seen most women suffering in silence.

Postpartum or postnatal depression is a common mental health condition that new mothers face soon after giving birth.

But ironically, it is also a topic that most people don’t openly discuss and as a result, most women end up suffering in silence.

Delicate Muchere who was a teen mother is one such woman who suffered from postnatal depression.

“It was a really difficult time because I was alone and clueless of what to do with the baby. Sometimes I would cry when the baby cried I was so depressed all the time. I was withdrawn, anxious in fact I was just tired all the time.

” My situation was made worse because I gave birth to a premature baby. I was confused as to how I was going to handle the baby. I doubted if I could breastfeed or if my child would survive.
I had no one to share my problems with and it made it worse.”

Gynaecologist Dr Miriam Kanyenze explains symptoms and possible treatment of this condition, noting it’s prevalent in the country.

“These patients would have mood swings, cry, lack of sleep, not eating and sometimes some will show signs of psychosis-like hallucinations and getting violent.

“Patients should seek treatment early because if it becomes severe one can be admitted. It can however be prevented by ensuring that new mothers have support from family and friends.”

Postnatal depression does not only affect the mother but the newborn is also at risk, hence the need to raise awareness about the mental health condition and improve access to medical attention.

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