Becoming a mother can be amazing.
But, what do you do when it feels harder than it should?
What is Postpartum Depression?
- “Postpartum Depression” (PPD) is a general term describing many different types of difficulties that women may experience after birth, not just what looks like typical depression.
- PPD symptoms often look more like anxiety than depression.
- Symptoms can be milder to severe and can begin at any point during pregnancy, or after giving birth, even through the first year or longer.
- At least 10-20% of women experience some degree of PPD.
Some symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Isolating yourself
- Changes in appetite (increased or decreased)
- Anxiousness (uneasy, jittery, unsettled), may include periods of
- Panic (sudden heart racing, breathlessness, dizziness, intense fear, etc.)
- irritability/anger, mood swings
- Sadness, tearfulness, guilt
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, making decisions
- Difficulties with motherhood; self-doubt, fear of being left alone with your baby, little/no interest in baby, intrusive upsetting thoughts about yourself or your baby
What Are The Risk Factors?
- Previous depression/anxiety, other emotional concerns
- Family history of depression/anxiety, mental illness
- High stress/low support situation during or after pregnancy
- Difficulties in relationship with significant other
- First time motherhood, very young motherhood, older motherhood
- Difficult pregnancy/birth, distressing birth experience
- Having a high needs baby that cries more than usual, is hard to comfort
- Baby with special needs
When Should You Come To Treatment?
If symptoms are:
- Getting in the way of daily functioning
- Causing distress, worry, relationship problems
- Worsening or not getting better
- Seek treatment at the first signs, symptoms can worsen without treatment
- It is appropriate to meet with a psychologist even if you're not sure if you're experiencing PPD. It is their job to help you identify what is going on for you and ways you can address it.
- Many women who are at risk meet with a psychologist early in pregnancy to find out how to identify PPD symptoms, decrease their risk for PPD, and know how to address PPD if symptoms begin.
- The nature of PPD makes it especially difficult for women to talk about it and ask for help when they are already in the middle of it.
What does treatment look like?
- Psychologists usually meet with people one time per week for 45 minutes. You may meet more or less often, depending on what best fits your needs.
- PPD is very treatable by a qualified psychologist, and women often begin to feel better in a relatively short period of time.
- Providers offer information about the causes and ways to address PPD successfully.
- They offer a consistently safe and supportive neutral space where women can feel comfortable talking about and making sense of their concerns.
What Can You Do?
- Find a relative or close friend who can help with the baby (even if it's temporary).
- Get as much sleep or rest as you can, even if you have to ask for more help with the baby.
- As soon as your doctor says it’s okay, get regular exercise.
- Try not to worry about less important tasks, be realistic about what you can really do and be kind to yourself.
- Know that PPD is not your fault, a personality flaw, and is experienced by many women of different situations, ages, races, classes, etc. because adjustment to parenthood is very complex.
- Tell your doctor about any concerns you may be having about how you feel. It is their job to help you be healthy and identify ways to feel better.
If You Are Having Concerning Thoughts
(like hurting yourself, your baby, or other upsetting thoughts about your baby):
- Put the baby in a safe place, like the crib. Call a friend or family member for help if you need to.
- Call a hotline (free and available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week)
- 1-800-PPDMOMS (1-800-773-6667); 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Go to your local hospital or emergency room.
- Tell someone you trust how you are feeling