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Serena Williams urges women to adopt a positive approach to mental health issues

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Serena Williams has advised women to consider talking to someone – a close friend or relative, if they feel threatened by postpartum disorders.

The world-class tennis star gave birth to her first daughter last September but apparently suffered mental health issues ahead of her recent 6-1 6-0 loss to Johanna Konta in their first round of Silicon Valley Classic.

Williams reached the Wimbledon finals last month but failed woefully to the low-ranked tennis player.

However, the former champion who returned to competitive action earlier this year says her failure stems from mental health issues she suffered after giving birth to Alexis Olympia, adding that silence does not help women battling postpartum depression.

The 36-year-old took to social media after suffering her worst career defeat from Konta and highlighted the importance of therapy and medications.

Her words, ‘Last week [after the defeat] was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk.

‘Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom,’ Williams continued. ‘I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to three years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be.

‘However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes.

‘I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week, it’s ok, I am, too! There’s always tomm [tomorrow]’

Williams has won the grand slam singles championship a total of 23 times. Her sudden withdrawal from the Rogers Cup (a WTA Premier 5 event scheduled in Montreal) explains the impact of postpartum challenges. Fortunately, she found strength in her weakness and has educated several women on the do’s and don’ts of being a hardworking and responsible mother.

Most women notice postpartum depression after childbirth and the experience can affect one’s mental health if adequate measures are not taken. The symptoms include migraine headaches, mood swings or simply post-traumatic stress disorder. In some rare cases, the health challenge is classified as “postpartum psychosis” (hallucinations, irritability and paranoia, among others).

Use of antidepressant medication proves useful in alleviating the symptoms of PPD but caffeine should be avoided since it aggravates the situation by causing anxiety and mood swings, according to health experts.

Enrolling for counseling with a qualified therapist is advised to avoid any misdiagnoses. Exercises and good nutrition also aid quick recovery by improving PPD patients’ moods.

PPD can affect a woman’s ability to cater for herself and family. Sufferers often feel extreme sadness caused by some physical or emotional factors.

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