Happy mother… Sad woman…
Postpartum depression- The silent monster…
This week’s blog is very important and personal to me. We all know the pressures that women go through the moment they find out they will become mothers. Maybe the news was welcomed with open arms, maybe some of us were a little skeptical. Nevertheless, we can all agree it is life changing. We are pregnant for a long time and we may feel the pressure since day one! We are expected to learn quick how to be a different woman. We are often given advice by others regarding how we should behave, or how we can prepare ourselves for a new child. They tell us what to buy; how to set up the nursery… heck they may even tell us how to name our unborn child!!! One thing how ever that I found very scarce was their advice regarding mental health. Yes…..MENTAL HEALTH!!
This topic may be very taboo; maybe a little uncomfortable, but it is more common than you may think. This blog will discuss a few areas of postpartum depression like; what is it? Who gets it? How to know if I have it? Is it normal? First lets start discussing some distinctions between terms associated with the postpartum period (after pregnancy).
I really do believe that one of the main reasons some new moms or even not new moms keep quiet about their mental health during and after pregnancy is because they are afraid to seem or feel “crazy.” So lets break down some facts
Postpartum blues—-Postpartum depression—-Postpartum psychosis
Postpartum Blues: Often known as Baby blues. They occur in the first two weeks following childbirth, and are very common. They are related to common problems associated with adjusting to a new baby (Madar, 2015 & American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Symptoms include; tiredness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, or sadness. They may go away once the mother becomes accustomed to the lifestyle change, but if the symptoms persist it may lead to PPD (Madar, 2015, & American Psychiatric Association, 2000). These symptoms will usually only last a few weeks or several weeks after delivery, and will lessen with time. Baby blues can also be attributed to hormonal changes that occur before and after pregnancy. (WE know how our hormones can really bug us, and maybe even bug others!!).
Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression (PPD), also referred to postnatal depression, affects 8% to 19% of mothers in the United States (Ghosh & Goswami, 2011, Krantz et al., 2008, Blucker et al. 2014, & Madar, 2015). Postpartum depression is characterized by increased levels of sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, mood swings, and fatigue following the birth of a child (Ghosh & Goswami, 2011, Krantz et al., 2008, Blucker et al. 2014, & Madar, 2015). Although postpartum depression can occur any time within the first year postpartum, it is typically screened in the first weeks following the birth of a child (Madar, 2015). It is also commonly seen in first time mothers and is said to have adverse effects for the mother, the child, and the family as a whole (Blucker et al. 2014 & Madar, 2015).
Postpartum Psychosis: Postpartum psychosis is less common and may include suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming the child (Madar, 2015, & American Psychiatric Association, 2000). If postpartum psychosis is not evaluated and treated it could lead to irreversible damages to the child and the mother.
*That was of course a very brief synopsis of different forms of postpartum mental health, but in this blog I want to focus on postpartum depression because although research suggests that the percentages vary, some report that these numbers may even be higher!!! (This is due to the fact that some women may never be diagnosed due to many reasons; oftentimes because we do not seek help!).
You may be wondering if you have went through postpartum depression, or if you may be more likely to suffer from it, so let us review what we need to look for.
- Feelings of sadness, irritability, fatigue, anger, guilt, or mood swings that last more than several weeks following the birth of your child.
- If you are pregnant and are going through some of these symptoms now do not worry, they may be due to hormonal changes. –But be sure to talk to your doctor about this so that you can be screened!!
- Women who have a history of anxiety or depression may be more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
I have presented maybe too much research for you, maybe not enough; but I do want to add my personal thoughts on this, from both a educated-driven perspective as well as from a person who actually when through this. Having a child was truly a blessing, but I could not get myself to be as happy and content as I thought I should be. No one around me told me the emotional turmoil I would face, and no one ever complained about sadness. Because of this I felt I had no right to discuss what I was feeling. I was scared of judgment and scared of knowing there was something wrong with me, after all I studied psychology and thought I knew it all!!!! (Yea right!!!) The feelings would not go away and because of that I decided to write my Masters thesis paper on postpartum depression and screening methods. I was so mad at the medical system for not noticing I needed help! So I suffered in silence. Postpartum depression is a silent monster. This is what I learned… this is what Elena Thinks.
- Mental health is not a new concept, and it needs to be talked about.
- You are NEVER the first person to go through something… many people just do not talk about it.
- It is okay to seek help, even if you only feel a little sad. You deserve to be taken care of, because if you are not a happy woman; your child may be missing out on a happy mom!!!
- Share your truth… the more others hear of your bravery and story then the easier it may be to target this monster!
- Do NOT let ANYONE make you feel that you need to “get over,” what you are feeling because your child comes first. YOU need to come first in order to be there for your number ONE love,- your child
- Seek support groups either online or in person. You do not even have to disclose your real name in some of these support groups!
- Do not let postpartum depression be a SILENT MONSTER. If you know someone who is pregnant or just had a child then make sure you check up on them!! Ask them how THEY are doing, and offer support!
BE A HAPPY MOM, BUT AN EVEN HAPPIER WOMAN.
As always thank you all for reading. Leave me your comments and thoughts. I have listed some of the references, and some of the text was taken directly from my thesis paper. This week I want to focus on this topic. Next blog will be about cultural differences in reporting postpartum depression.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders IV: Text revised. Washington, DC.
Blucker, R. T., Gillaspy, J., J Arthur, Jackson, D., Hetherington, C., Kyler, K., Cherry, A.. . Gillaspy, S. R. (2014). Postpartum depression in the NICU: An examination of the factor structure of the postpartum depression screening scale. Advances in Neonatal Care, 14(6), 424-432. doi:10.1097/ANC.0000000000000135
Ghosh, A., & Goswami, S. (2011). Evaluation of post partum depression in a tertiary hospital. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India, 61(5), 528-530. doi:10.1007/s13224-011-0077-9
Krantz, I., Eriksson, B., Lundquist-Persson, C., Ahlberg, B. M., Nilstun, T., Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, . . . Uppsala universitet. (2008). Screening for postpartum depression with the edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS): An ethical analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36(2), 211-216. doi:10.1177/1403494807085392
Madar, A., D. (2015) Cognitive Vulnerability for postpartum depression: Implications for intervention. Thesis abstract. Department of Psychology. Doi: 184.108.40.206