Postpartum Depression

postpartum depressionThis is incredibly hard for me to write because it’s something I have personally struggled with—and that’s the root of what makes PPD so difficult. Because admitting to anybody that looking at your beautiful baby, the child you hoped for for so long, makes you sob is shameful. Ungrateful. Crazy. Worst, unmotherly. Right?

WRONG. It took me a long time to come to terms with this, particularly with the stigma I felt came alongside it, but I was wrong to feel bad about, well, feeling bad. If you or a friend are walking in those same, awful shoes, you or she absolutely should not feel bad. You should take action, as quick as you can (even if that means asking somebody else to get you help because that’s all you have the energy to do). Your family needs you, and while it can be hard for moms to admit, you need you.

First, baby blues vs. PPD. You’ve probably heard of both, but how do you know which you may be experiencing? Both are normal, but baby blues should peter out on their own by about two weeks postpartum and symptoms are milder. PBS has an excellent blog topic on differentiating the two here.

Postpartum depression symptoms run the gamut from frequent crying, feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, changes in sleep patterns, or lethargy. You don’t need to suffer from each of these to suffer from this disorder. You don’t need to have thoughts of self-harm or of harming your child, either.

If you are suffering from any of these and they are affecting your daily life, please talk to someone. Your doctor or midwife, your spouse, a pastor or a supportive friend or family member are all good candidates. Also, if you have a friend or family member you suspect is suffering from PPD, please don’t hesitate to talk to her.

Treatment options for PPD vary. Many women get relief from psychotherapy (talk therapy) and lifestyle remedies (getting daily exercise and exposure to sunlight, talking to people, etc). Some women need medication, which can be a tough decision for a mom to make if she’s breastfeeding. Your medical provider should be able to help you with the pros and cons of different medications, and if you are considering this route, kellymom is a good resource for research on breastfeeding compatibility with various pharmaceuticals.

Finally, remember that suffering from PPD is in no way a predictor of what kind of mother you are. It WILL eventually go away. You are NOT crazy, and you are NOT alone. Please take care of yourself. And if you are having self-harming thoughts, please seek help immediately.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two boys and a steady stream of foster dogs. She and her family currently live in Japan.


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