Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Postpartum Depression Among South Asian Women

Excerpt taken from The Langar Hall.

We are only beginning to hear about the prevalence of postpartum depression in the larger community, so it comes as no surprise to me that we hear about it even less within the South Asian community. Recent research suggests that Indian women, particularly new immigrants, may be at a higher risk of postpartum depression than their non-Indian counterparts. Experts suggest isolation stemming from the immigrant experience and a lack of the traditional support system often found in the home countries, as reasons for increased prevalence among Indian women.

In the United States, about one in 10 women suffers from postpartum depression (PPD). South Asian women may be at a higher risk for PPD, due to the impact of acculturation and cultural customs including factors such as arranged marriage and the gender of the child. There are many cultural factors that impact the immigrant woman’s vulnerability of being affected by postpartum depression.

In several studies conducted in India and Europe, giving birth to a female infant was directly related to postpartum depression. There is great pressure on women to produce a male heir, especially for women who already have one girl child, the studies concluded… “The struggles of fitting into a new society and the isolation many women feel increases stress, which can result in mood disorders,” says Narasimhan. She has found that key factors in successful acculturation include community support, places of worship and the company of other women. Genetics can also play a role. “If your mother and grandmother suffered from postpartum depression, it’s likely you will as well,” Narasimhan says. Other physical factors for postpartum depression include hypo-thyroidism and anemia, both prevalent among South Asian women.
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