Rampant post-natal depression among Zim women

By Kudakwashe Pembere

About 30percent of Zimbabwean women undergoing the 6 week post-natal checkups suffer from post-natal depression, a mental health expert said on Friday.

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, crying episodes, and irritability.

Speaking on an SFM show, Dr Dixon Chibanda said this condition is common among Zimbabwean mothers.

“Post-natal depression is highly prevalent in Zimbabwe. Studies that we have done in Zimbabwe show that 30 percent of women attending the six week post-natal clinic at primary health care facilities actually have post-natal problems,” he said.

Postnatal depression

He explained that some of the symptoms exhibited by the new mothers are sometimes suicidal.

“They have problems bonding with their new born baby. They have problems breast feeding. They have suicidal thoughts sometimes they even think of harming their own children. We have had cases like that.,” added Chibanda.

He also recommended that women with PPD should be treated rather than jailed.

“If you go at Chikurubi, there are women incarcerated for what we call infanticide. Again you know, im of the opinion that these people should not be incarcerated. They need help, vanofanirwa kunge vachinorapwa vanhu ava (They should be getting treatment.) You know when you put them in jail, you are not really helping them.

He went on with the symptoms citing they are similar to those of depression.

“So post-natal depression will present with those symptoms like helplessness, hopelessness. Kupererwa kutadza kuzuva (That moment of hopelessness when one wonders what can I do with my life.

“You lack motivation, you are unable to interact with the baby, with your family. Those symptoms they start manifesting just after the six weeks of having delivered and it’s a big problem in Zimbabwe,” he said.

One of the major causes of PPD according to Chibanda is an abusive relationship.

“The thing is if you are in a relationship which is abusive, just giving you an example, you get pregnant and let’s say you don’t want to have the baby but you go ahead and have the baby. Again circumstances leading to that pregnancy and delivery are stressful.

“And then you have the stress of delivering, the hormonal changes that occur as a result of being pregnant and delivering, all of that put together can lead to post-natal depression. This is a medical condition which is treatable because when you are depressed, the neuro-transmitters, the chemicals in your brain have changed. Zvofanirwa kugadziriswa. (This should be fixed.)

 

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