Does age matter when it comes to postpartum depression?

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 30 January 2023 at 11:31

Before any final decision, you should know there is more to pregnancy than just popping out a baby.

Most of us have heard in real life or movies about the so-called biological clock of a woman, but can this clock be one of the reasons causing postpartum depression?

Postpartum is a Latin phrase combining two words; post, which means after, and partum, meaning the act of giving birth.

Until now, some people might find it hard to believe that such a beautiful miracle of giving birth to a human being would bring depression to a mother.

But to others, it is possible to wait for the joy and fulfillment of becoming a mother only to feel severely sad and depressed, also known as postpartum depression.

Some mothers have mood swings, are easily irritated, have difficulty bonding with the newborn, and have a loss of appetite after giving birth.

Women of all ages can experience postpartum depression (PPD). Some experience it at 18 months post-birth, while others do not feel the crushing weight of PPD until they are close to retirement. It all depends on your body and how it reacts to having a baby.

This can be due to having unexpected delivery, and stressful environments can be a significant factor if your husband or family is not supportive of your pregnancy.

Being an alcohol or drug user and having financial concerns can also contribute to a mother’s PPD.

PPD should not be considered a flaw of the mother. This depression can be genetic or a result of physical changes or emotional issues.

Young mothers get depressed after realizing their bodies are not immediately changing back to how they were before pregnancy.

The age of an expecting mother can also affect mental health during and after pregnancy.

If you are over the age of 35 and you are pregnant, you are at risk for developing postpartum depression. Because as we age, our hormones start to change, which can lead to the reduction of serotonin levels, the hormone responsible for mood stability.

As you age, your body and emotions go through more changes, so if you get pregnant later in life, take care of your mental health during pregnancy.

It is also surprising that some older mothers feel shame because certain societies make it unspeakable for older women to have children.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my older neighbors, to which she laughed at the concept of a 52-year-old woman like herself getting pregnant.

"It is funny at this age, one should be caring for grandchildren and resting. Your daughter can’t be in the maternity ward waiting on you to give birth, so she can also go in and give birth," she said.

These mindsets can make an expecting older woman depressed, worrying that some societies will shun her or that her family will be upset with her.

However, in a positive environment, an older mother will more likely only experience exhaustion and worry than full-blown depression. With an accomplished career and capable of handling daily responsibilities, all she has to worry about is her baby.

Young mothers can experience PPD for several reasons; their careers are just beginning, needing as much attention as their babies will.

Some feel trapped by motherhood after realizing that not only their bodies but also their social life will be changing.

Being pregnant at a young age can look like giving up freedom, which is also a reason for PPD, especially for teenage mothers.

Thoughts of self-harming, death, or suicide, hopelessness, insomnia, restlessness, severe anxiety, and panic attacks come into their minds.

They may find it challenging to bond with the baby, making them feel shame which comes out as irritation, one of the symptoms of PPD.

Postpartum depression needs treatment, or it becomes a problem, not for the entire family. Especially if the mother never bonds with the child, which can result in dismay for the child as they grow.

Knowing earlier that you are prone to this depression, especially if it is genetic, will allow you to seek a doctor or a therapist to help monitor signs of depression during and after the pregnancy.

There is no real age that is perfect to be pregnant that will 100% assure that you won’t get postpartum depression.

If you have been depressed, living in a stressful environment during your pregnancy or have a family history of postpartum depression, then you are at risk.