It can hit you out of the blue or slowly creep up on you. Postpartum depression is fairly common and it isn't talked about as much as it should be. There are some misconceptions surrounding the term postpartum depression. Here are 10 facts to help you understand it a little better.
1. It isn't just Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is part of the perinatal mood and anxiety disorder spectrum. For some moms it is postpartum anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis. Some mothers may also experience a combination of two or more.
2. The #1 Complication of Pregnancy
Yes that is correct. It is not preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, cholestasis, etc. While almost all women get tested for gestational diabetes and other screenings, many do not get screened for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Perinatal encompasses the period of time during which a woman is pregnant or has given birth.
3. You are not alone!
1 in 5 women are affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Many don't even get diagnosed and are left wondering what happened and why they are feeling the way they didn't expect too.
4. Media Misconception
The news often depicts a mother who is described in having "postpartum depression" and has committed a terrible act such as hurting herself, her baby or both. But the fact is, the term is not postpartum depression, but it is postpartum psychosis which affects 0.1% of births. It is much rarer then postpartum depression.
5. You Will be You Again!
It is temporary. With help and in time you will be well again! Knowing when to get help (see below) and where to get help (see below) is very important. It doesn't mean you need medications. There are several ways of getting help.
6. Healing Comes in Various Ways!
Getting help isn't just medication,s as some women and others think. Certainly there are times where medication is needed but also support groups, talk therapy are essential as well. Some mothers do well with just going to a support group and having therapy from a professional. Medication management is best left to a professional of psychiatry who has experience in working with women who have perinatal mood disorders. Some mothers opt to try things naturally through a naturopathic physician, or placenta encapsulation.
7. It is Not Baby Blues!
Baby blues is not the same as postpartum depression. This involves mood swings and weepiness. Baby blues are normal and affect about 80% of moms and last only the first two weeks after birth. This resolves without medical assistance.
8. Not a Reflection of Mothering!
Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders is an illness and in no way a reflection on you as a mother and as a woman. It is hard to believe this and those who are going through it don't sometimes realize it. You are not a horrible mother and you are enough for you and your baby! When a mother has a perinatal mood disorder it affects her mind physically and also emotionally and mothers often feel like they can't think straight or have a hard time coming up with solutions on their own. Taking that step to getting better for yourself is one of the greatest acts of love for you and your baby.
9. It Affects Dad Too!
It is not as common but dads can have postnatal depression too. An illness called paternal postnatal depression. It is not a sign of weakness in character but there is also a hormone change for dads immediately after the birth of their child that can contribute to this. There is an awesome book by Karen Kleiman, "The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for living with postpartum depression" that is very helpful for dads to get a better understanding of the illness and healing process.
10. You are Not to Blame!
While you can do all you can to prevent it or steer away from it, there are biological, psychological, and environmental contributors that one can't control and it happens. But remember you are not alone and you will be well again.
What do we do with this! It is tough having a baby but there is hope. If you are feeling any of the following reach out to someone to get help. There are some wonderful resources at the bottom for you to go to for help!
- "Why am I so sad, this is supposed to be the best time of my life?"
- "I would feel better if I just got better sleep at night."
- "I am a terrible mother. My child deserves better."
- "Why am I having thoughts that are scaring me?"
- "I want to leave my baby." "I want to run away."
- "Why can't I just snap out of it?"
- "I can't leave with my baby, it is too much for me to handle."
- "I feel angry all the time. "
- "I can't be alone with my baby." "I want to hit my baby."
National Resources for Postpartum Support:
Postpartum Support International- www.postpartum.net
Postpartum Progress - www.postpartumprogress.com
For Immediate Help Please Call 1-800-SUICIDE
National Hopeline - www.hopeline.com
Virginia Resources for Postpartum Support
Postpartum Support Virginia - www.postpartumva.org
Postpartum Doulas at Northern Virginia Birth Services