TV host Jaymee Ong: I cried my eyes out after giving birth
Celebrity host Jaymee Ong recounts battle with postpartum depression after son's birth:
She suffered from mild baby blues after giving birth to her daughter five years ago, so Jaymee Ong was confident she knew what she would be dealing with with her second baby.
But severe postpartum depression struck just three days after she gave birth to her son, Harrison, two months ago.
It got so bad that at one point, she did not even want to pick him up.
"I was crying my eyes out. I lost all confidence and I felt so incapable," Ong, 36, told The New Paper yesterday.
After she sought help, her condition has improved.
The Chinese-Australian host of AXN's EBuzz, who returned to work recently after maternity leave, agreed to recount her battle with the psychologically debilitating condition to create awareness of it.
Postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of and women who suffer from it should not be afraid to seek help, she said.
Ong, whose first-born, Juliet, is now five-years-old, said: "I want to stress that this is not me saying that I hate my baby or that I hate being a mum.
"I love being a mum, which was why I felt so much guilt when I was hit by depression."
Her emotional well-being hit rock bottom soon after her son's birth and the fast and intense downward spiral caught her off guard.
Said Ong: "I kept thinking, I should be able to handle this, I've done it before. But I couldn't control the way I felt. I felt like I had affected my family badly because I was so scared that I couldn't handle anything to do with my baby."
Even with her daughter, Ong said it took it took her three months to fall in love with the child.
She added: "Some women say that they have this amazing connection with their babies right after they are born, but I didn't feel that at all.
"I thought I would love my son right away. When I felt detached, I was devastated. I think it is because I didn't get much (feedback) from him when he was just born.
"Nowadays, he's starting to smile and he responds to the sound of my voice."
Ong, who regained her pre-pregnancy body just weeks after she gave birth through daily exercises, is looking forward to seeing Harrison open up more.
She added that while her husband, Australian electrical engineer Matthew Heath, 36, was understanding about her depressive state, she knew she had to seek help for the sake of her family and herself.
Two weeks after Harrison's birth, Ong went to a psychiatrist who prescribed her anti-depressants.
She declined to reveal the name of the medication because she does not want to promote the drug to mums.
"Taking medication was a personal choice because I had it (postpartum depression) bad. I'm not ashamed that I sought the treatment I needed and I do feel 1,000 per cent better.
"Women don't talk about having baby blues because they don't want to seem like failures, but they have to do whatever it takes to feel better.
"After all, as a woman, being a mum is the biggest thing you'll ever do in your life."
Doc: About 1 in 10 new mums can suffer from it
Postpartum depression can affect up to 13 per cent of all women who give birth, according to Dr Adrian Wang, consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre.
Postnatal blues, which is less severe and is essentially an adjustment reaction to having a new baby, is even more common, affecting nearly half of such women.
Dr Wang told The New Paper: "The commonest symptom is a sense of gloominess that lasts throughout the day.
"Feeling irritable and feeling guilty for being a bad mother or wife and not being able to enjoy motherhood are other common symptoms.
"Being emotionally fragile - crying easily, feeling irritable and anxious all the time - is common as well.
"Other mums can suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite and weight and thoughts of self-harm."
FOUR TO SIX WEEKS
So when should mothers get help for postpartum depression?
If the feelings of sadness and irritability do not dissipate after four to six weeks or if the thoughts of self-harm are very strong, seek help immediately, said Dr Wang.
Dr Lim Boon Leng, psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, said mothers who only have a short duration of sadness with no other associated symptoms can wait and see if their mood improves.
If their conditions worsen, then the treatments available are medication and psychotherapy.
Added Dr Wang: "Mild cases respond well to counselling. The husband and the rest of the family should be involved in this counselling process as much as possible.
"Medication may be prescribed in moderate to severe cases. Many people worry about being dependent on medications, but antidepressants are never habit-forming and can be life-saving. Speaking to other mums who have gone through similar experiences is always helpful."