Posts Tagged ‘medication’

What is PPMD?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

PPMD“So what brought you into the emergency room tonight?” I was seated across from the patient’s bed, desperate to remain composed and professional. It was the beginning of my shift, so professionalism should not have been a problem: I was rested, refreshed, and should have been focused. However, this particular patient had a three-week-old baby in the room, and it was taking all of my energy to pay attention to the adult and not the adorable bundle she brought with her.

My priorities realigned, however, when I noticed the strained smile on her face. There was a pause before she answered, as she struggled to compose her response, and suddenly tears spilled from her eyes as quickly as the string of words expressing desperation, sorrow, and guilt over how she was feeling about her new role as Mom.

Postpartum mood disorders affect up to 25 percent of new mothers, and symptoms can develop immediately after birth or months after your little one has come into the world. Depression manifests differently in different people, but typical symptoms include chronic crying, increased anxiety, feelings of despair or guilt, weight loss/gain, sleep disturbance, feeling distant from your child, and fixation on your child’s safety out of paranoia that something dangerous could happen, or thoughts of hurting your child yourself. Dealing with depression by itself is an exhausting task, and doing it while caring for a child can border on the impossible. Doing it without help can create dangerous situations, for both you and your child, and it’s important to ask for support when you recognize that things feel harder than they should.

So what can you do if you feel you or a loved one is having a hard time adjusting to parenthood?

  • Know the signs. Postpartum mental health concerns can arise at any point of the journey, including during pregnancy. Taking the time to check in with your own mental health on a regular basis can help you recognize when things are taking a turn, and knowing what to look for can help you see the red flags sooner rather than later.
  • Have a support person. Depending on where you live, the resources available for treating postpartum mental health can be difficult to navigate. Having someone to advocate for you while you find a good therapist and/or medication provider can make the difference between getting help and giving up.
  • Know that you aren’t alone. There are more individuals who experience postpartum depression each year than who sprain an ankle in that same year. As postpartum mental health becomes more widely understood, a “Congratulations!” will ideally be accompanied with a genuine, “How are you doing?”

When you’re feeling isolated, alone, and experiencing all the difficulties of depression/anxiety/OCD/psychosis, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to reach out and ask for help. If you are struggling, know that you deserve support, not only because it will benefit your child, but also because it will benefit you.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Coping with Weaning and Depression

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

weaning and depressionNursing is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mom, and yet, I experienced a sadness each time when it was over, even though I some ways I felt like I had anticipated this moment from the time my daughters were each born.

Weaning marks a new freedom in your life, but also an additional separation between you and your baby. It’s normal and natural and good, but it can also be sad, especially so if this child is the last time you’ll get to experience the closeness of the mom/baby nursing relationship.

What can really complicate this already very sunrise/sunset moment is hormones. (Don’t they complicate everything? Geez.) Hormones are added and subtracted each time we cycle, get pregnant, have a baby, miscarry, start nursing, decrease nursing, or cease nursing. Each event kind of creates a trainwreck of the old mix of hormones making their way out while the new mix is making its way in, and that can make you feel pretty crazy, especially if you’re under any other additional stressors at the time.

There are some things you can do to help minimize the impact of the just the hormonal ups and downs. If there are additional things going on in your life while you are weaning, these tips may not help by themselves. You may need to talk to someone or seek some other solutions until things settle down in your life or until you adjust. But if you don’t have additional stress, try ideas for helping your body adjust to your new hormonal normal.

  1. Get exercise. When you wean, you’re suddenly deprived of oxytocin, that life-giving hormone that also carries with it a serious natural high. One way to get some of that high again is through exercise. New recommendations by some experts indicate that the average person needs not just 30 minutes a day, but an hour. And if you can get that exercise outdoors, even better. Sunlight and natural vitamin D are great for your immune system and your mood. I stay motivated to exercise by making it me-time. No double jogging strollers for me, thanks. I like to go it alone and have some time each day where I only have to worry about me.
  2. Breathe properly. Many times when we are feeling stress, the shoulders tighten, our chest tightens, and we end up hunched over and closed up. Focus on sitting with your shoulders back and chest open. Breathe deeply for a count of 5 or 8. Focus on your breath and nothing else. Here are 6 great breathing exercises that can help de-stress you. Encourage your kids to participate if they are with you and you need a moment.
  3. Don’t lean on sugar and caffeine to prop your mood up. It’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee and comfort food when we feel down, but sugar can mess with hormones in a bad way. Make sure you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats, and try to keep processed foods to a minimum.
  4. Regulate your sleep. Sleep has a huge impact on mood and energy levels, but you probably didn’t need a blog to tell you that. Try to go to bed and wake at about the same time every day—even on weekends—and turn off electronics about two hours before bedtime. Dimming lights and eliminating screen time before bed will help everyone in your home transition to bedtime easier.
  5. Encourage the production of oxytocin. You can help wean your body off those big hits of oxytocin you used to get through nursing by giving it smaller hits. You get small doses of oxytocin released from your brain when you hug, snuggle, kiss, or cuddle with your kids and other loved ones. Oxytocin is also released when we spend time with our women friends, too. You heard it here first—girls’ night, doctor’s orders!

If you feel “off” during or after weaning and just can’t seem to recover your mood, talk to your doctor, midwife or doula, naturopath, or a counselor. There may be additional things you can do to help that don’t involve medication, but sometimes medication is a very helpful option, too.

Every mom’s journey is different, even the same individual with different children, so give yourself the space and grace to work through this time without judgment for how you get through it.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.