Suicide in postpartum depression

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(Callie Gibson, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Hyale Melo Lima, a second period medical student at UNICEPLAC – Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos in Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In the greek culture, there is a tale about Sisyphus which talks about a man who was ordered by the gods to roll a big rock uphill everyday until his death, and every time he got near the top the stone was so heavy that it rolled down the hill all over again. This is how postpartum depression feels like. Woman struggle everyday to meet expectations about being a mother, they try hard to take care of their babies, nevertheless, the more time passes the heavier the emotional, psychic, social, mental and hormonal burdens of those who have this illness become, it can even get to the point of being so unbearable that they end up committing suicide or killing their own son if they don’t have help. In this scenario, risk factors for suicide in postpartum depression are the main maintainers of this condition in Brazil. From this perspective, it is crucial that the Ministry of Health offers more conditions for promotion, protection and recovery of these Brazilian women’s health.

Thusly, there are several factors that can lead a woman to develop postpartum depression, and there are some aggravating factors that are decisive in the possibility of suicide among these women, which are the lack of family support, stress, anxiety, financial problems, lack of pregnancy planning, bipolar disorder, history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, that is the most severe form of premenstrual tension, domestic violence, sleep deprivation, isolation, inadequate nutrition, sedentary lifestyle and crack or alcohol addiction. As discussed in the Scielo article “Depressive symptoms in postpartum woman at Family Health Units“, in which brazilian woman who had already been diagnosed with postpartum depression and are being treated can have suicidal thoughts, representing an 11.5% prevalence of postpartum suicide risk. In this way, the most important risk factors for suicide are low education level and the presence of psychiatric disorders, including depression.

Given the above, the issue of suicide due to postpartum depression in Brazil is evidenced as a public health problem. Therefore, Public Health Offices should provide greater social education on the subject, especially in pre-natal lectures  with pregnant women, spouse, family and friends, so that everyone is aware of the signs that these women may have in the postpartum, in order to ensure the safety of newborns and mothers considering that this period is extremely vulnerable due to all changes. Moreover, it would be vitally important if the Ancine – Agência nacional de cinema – together with the Ministry of Health, produced movies, TV series and documentaries about postpartum depression and the suicide in this condition, in order to spread the theme and indirectly it would produce a massively and socially expanded health education on the subject. Thus, it would be possible to decrease the weight of the stone that these women carry uphill every day, and they would be able to share this burden with their social circle and thus have a lower suicide rate.

References

ALESSANDRA DA ROCHA ARRAIS & TEREZA CRISTINA CAVALCANTI FERREIRA DE ARAUJO (Brasil) (Ed.). Depressão pós-parto: uma revisão sobre fatores de risco e de proteção. Brasília, 2017. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.mec.pt/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1645-00862017000300016&gt;. Acesso em: 21 out. 2019.

SYNARA BARBOSA DE MELO RHAYZA RHAVÊNIA RODRIGUES JORDÃO FERNANDA JORGE GUIMARÃES JAQUELINE GALDINO ALBUQUERQUE PERRELLI AMAURY CANTILINO EVERTON BOTELHO SOUGEY (Brasil) (Ed.). Sintomas depressivos em puérperas atendidas em Unidades de Saúde da Família. Recife, 2018. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1519-38292018000100163&lng=pt&nrm=iso&tlng=pt&gt;. Acesso em: 21 out. 2019

 BRASIL. MINISTÉRIO DA SAÚDE. (Comp.). Depressão pós-parto: causas, sintomas, tratamento, diagnóstico e prevenção. Brasília, 2018. Disponível em: <http://saude.gov.br/saude-de-a-z/saude-mental/depressao-pos-parto&gt;. Acesso em: 21 out. 2019.

About the author

Hyale Melo Lima, second period medical student at UNICEPLAC – Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos, local coordinator of IFMSA UNICEPLAC, with a passion for medicine, life sciences, traveling, music and a medical research reader, always involved with many academic activities, including congress organization, academic leagues board and class representative, she is constantly in hospitals to learn in practice everything presented to her in her readings and studies in the classroom.

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