Writing about mental disorders can be a great way of not only reducing stigma but also representing a part of the population that is oftentimes misunderstood.
Postpartum depression is one of many types of depression one can suffer from. It is a debilitating disorder that can affect women after they have given birth. It is described as a “type” of Major depressive disorder that can occur a few weeks after the birth of the baby.
It is thought to be a result of all of the physical and social changes women go through during this time. Not only, are their hormones changing, but there is a constant lack of sleep and a lot of responsibility on their shoulders to take care of their newborn baby.
Because of all of these changes, most women develop what is called “the baby blues”. This state is not considered as severe as postpartum depression.
Characters with mental disorders: Writing about postpartum depression
Note that certain symptoms are absolutely normal after childbirth and are not necessarily indicative of postpartum depression. These include:
- Changes in mood
- Lower sex drive
The symptoms of postpartum depression are usually more intense and debilitating. The main symptoms include:
- Not being able to bond with the baby
- Having little interest in the baby
- Extreme anger
- Felling worthless/hopeless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide or hurting others
Sometimes after giving birth, mothers may develop a serious condition called postpartum psychosis. When writing about postpartum depression, you may also touch on this disorder as well. In Postpartum psychosis, reality becomes plagues with hallucinations (auditory or visual) and false beliefs that can seem extreme, disproportionate, or irrational to others. Other symptoms can include:
- Lack of sleep
- Being easily Irritated
- Odd behaviors
- Overall confusion
In extreme cases, mothers affected by this condition can attempt to harm their baby or themselves.
It is important to note that this disorder is very serious and sometimes even life-threatening. Hence, when deciding to write about postpartum psychosis or postpartum depression in general avoid villainizing or minimizing these disorders.
Postpatum Depression In fathers
Postpartum depression does not just occur in women but also in fathers as well. This is especially likely if the person is a new father, and the mother also suffers from depression.
When writing about fathers experiencing depression after the birth of their child you should include the following symptoms: The tendency to feel sad, feeling stressed and overwhelming, eating too much or too little, sleeping too much or too little, and extreme fatigue.
Affect in Children
Note that babies who have parents suffering from depression are more likely to show signs of distress more often (crying and being irritated more) and may have learned to speak at a slower pace than their counterparts with non-depressed parents.
How can your character seek treatment?
Your character can seek treatment for their depression by taking antidepressants, going to psychotherapy and support groups. In the case of postpartum psychosis, antipsychotic medication can be prescribed.