Mrs Ijeoma Laluwoye, a clinical psychologist, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, on Tuesday, said 20 per cent of new mothers usually experience depressive disorders.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos that there were various forms of depression a woman might experience during and after pregnancy.
She said one of such was pre-natal depression; a form of clinical depression that could affect a woman during pregnancy, and could lead to postpartum depression if not properly handled.
Laluwoye explained that the symptoms of pre-natal depression include crying, sleep disorders and change in eating habits.
According to her, some women often assume it is normal pregnancy symptoms that will go away with time, but if left untreated, can result in preterm delivery or low weight babies.
She said pre-natal depression was often mistaken for baby blues, but that it was completely different.
The psychologist explained that baby blues usually occurred between the third and tenth day after delivery due to the changes in hormones, following child birth.
She said such women usually exhibited traits of irritability, frustration and they often cry.
She noted that those feelings, however, disappeared within few days without any professional intervention.
Laluwoye further explained that postpartum depression, which occurred after child birth, was associated with persistent sadness, fatigue, feeling of inadequacy, intense worries over the baby, family or activities, headaches and heart palpitations.
Symptoms of postpartum depression, she said, often persisted for more than two weeks.
She, however, said women who experienced the two symptoms might be inhibited by denial, shame or fear of disapproval in disclosing the symptoms.
“Women who experience any form of depression during and after pregnancy should be open about it and seek medical help as there is absolutely nothing shameful about it.
“Family members who notice these symptoms should help by being understanding, supportive and helping the woman get medical help, rather than criticizing and comparing the woman with other women who do not experience such.
“Women who experience such symptoms should never be ashamed or make you feel you are a bad mother,’’ she said.
Source: The Guardian Newspaper