May is Postpartum Awareness Month according to Postpartum Support International. No struggle faced by new mothers needs more attention and understanding than PPD. Many new moms will experience the "baby blues," which is mild sadness or irritation after having a baby. This is a normal reaction to major life changes and is in many cases nothing to be worried about. Talking to a clinician or loved ones may, in most cases of the baby blues, be all a new mother needs to feel better.
But 10 to 20 percent of new moms will develop a much stronger, much more unshakable form of depression. Postpartum/perinatal depression, or PPD, is a severe form of depression that can manifest itself differently in women. PPD is characterized by intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and irritability that can last anywhere from a few weeks to months after giving birth.
It's much more common for new moms to downplay their depression than give it the attention it needs. Treatment is not common enough in fighting PPD, with many mothers insisting that they don't need medication or professional help because they "just need to be stronger." But PPD is no joke: in severe cases, moms may even experience suicidal ideation or postpartum psychosis.
This article examines 15 tweets from new moms about their experience with PPD and gives a little insight into common feelings or symptoms associated with PPD. If you think you might have postpartum depression, it's important to remember that you're not alone, you're normal, and you deserve treatment. Seek help from your loved ones and medical professionals who can help you gain your life back.
15 Too Many Suffer In Silence
If only this mom was the only one who spent so long dealing with PPD on her own before getting help. Unfortunately, suffering in silence is all too common for postpartum moms. Why don't people reach out earlier? This is not an easy question to answer. Sometimes moms may just think they feel down for a while and that they need to "snap out of it." Others might feel embarrassed or even ashamed of their depression and wish that they were stronger.
No matter who you are, you do not need to feel ashamed of your depression. If depression was as easy as wishing it away, anyone would do it. But sometimes we can't control our moods, especially not if they are caused by chemical or environmental factors beyond our control. Treatment for PPD makes recovering so much easier and less lonely. Moms with postpartum owe it to themselves to seek help. It's scary but so much better than dealing with it alone.
14 PPD Lingers Longer Than Just A Feeling
When you're down for more than a few days, you may wonder whether you have PPD or you're just feeling a little blue. It's true that not everyone who feels sad has depression, and knowing the difference is important. Treatment for PPD is a lot different than just letting go of your bad days and striving to make tomorrow a good one. Knowing whether you're depressed or just sad can make a world of difference.
Depression is more than just feeling down. Moms with PPD also report feeling tired or like they no longer have interest in things they used to love: if you find yourself skipping out on yoga class or hanging out with friends, those can both be strong indicators of depression. Depressed moms might also notice physical symptoms, like fatigue, insomnia, or sudden weight changes.
If you experience these symptoms alongside others for at least two weeks, and no matter what you do you can't shake it, you may have postpartum depression. When in doubt, talk to your ob-gyn or a mental health professional about your symptoms. The earlier you receive treatment, the sooner you can start feeling better.
13 Postpartum Sucks The Joy Out Of Life
This mom experienced the soul-sucking aspect of postpartum that can take even a positive-minded person and steal the joy from their life. Moms with PPD may not know what hit them. They can go to sleep one day feeling like their life is okay and wake up with a significantly worse mindset. Little by little, they may feel like their life is losing what makes it enjoyable. Depressed moms may not even be able to pinpoint why this is and worry that they're becoming ungrateful.
Many PPD moms feel like nothing brings them joy or comfort in their lives anymore besides sleep. If you're sleeping too much or through most of the day because you can't find the motivation to do anything else, you may want to look into a PPD diagnosis. Postpartum can manifest itself in unexpected ways and take over your life much more gradually than you'd think.
12 "I Want To Feel Like Me..."
Nothing is scarier than no longer feeling like yourself. This mom with PPD felt that depression did more than take away her quality of life: it also took what made her, "her." Depression can turn people into shells of who they once were, or at least they can make a person suffering with depression feel that way. The person who they were may be buried underneath the sadness and pain but unable to reach who they once were under the weight of emotional pain.
Luckily, there is hope. Moms with PPD can regain who they once were or at least reclaim what they love about themselves even if they feel they've hit rock bottom. As long as you're still here and you're fighting depression, it can't swallow you whole. Hope may feel far away, but it can come nonetheless.
Treatment for depression is never easy and rarely a straight line into recovery, but in time, you may find that you feel more like yourself again. Don't expect too much of yourself and feel frustrated when you're not feeling one hundred percent like yourself again after a few weeks or even months of treatment. Recovery from depression, like any illness, can take a long time.
11 Not Enough People Take Postpartum Seriously
Moms aren't the only ones who might downplay their PPD symptoms. Even those who reach out can feel like they don't have support to receive treatment. Many new mothers experience mood swings after birth, and they may feel intense euphoria alongside sadness for a few months at hormone levels return to normal. Because of this, those around them may mistake symptoms of depression for normal "baby blues" and not know when to take symptoms more seriously.
Unlike fleeting emotions, PPD lingers. Sadness can come and go, but depression is characterized by a mood that lasts longer than just a few days. If you are a friend of a new mom and notice that they "haven't seemed like themselves" for more than a few days, encourage them to seek help. Offering support in every situation, no matter how superficial it may seem, is a lot more safe than not reaching out to someone struggling alone.
10 Medication: More Than Just A Supplement
Lots of alternative health proponents like to knock on "Big Pharma" and blame them for the rise in antidepressant prescriptions. While it's true that antidepressants cannot fix everything and work best in tandem with other treatments, some people can confuse this with the idea that they're useless or unnecessary. This dissatisfaction with SSRI medication has escalated to the point where other moms sometimes shame those who use antidepressants and encourage them to avoid or quit their meds without talking to a doctor.
Antidepressants aren't necessary in every situation, but it's important not to shame those who use them or judge moms on SSRIs. They can do a profound deal of good in some situations, and if your physician suggests looking into one, try to have an open mind about medication. You never know what could help you feel better.
If you start to feel better after a few months of taking an antidepressant, make sure to talk with your physician before quitting cold turkey. Sometimes moms with PPD can underestimate how much the antidepressant is helping their mood and, after quitting, spiral back into depressed feelings.
9 PPD Can Hit Anyone, Even Dads And Adoptive Moms
While hormonal imbalances or emotional troubles related to pregnancy and birth can be the reason behind PPD, not all people with postpartum are birth mothers. Adoptive moms can experience depression just as often as other moms after adopting a newborn. New additions to the family can be a source of joy, but they can also bring a lot of conflicting emotions and stress. Any mom can find herself developing PPD, but adoptive moms suffer in silence even more than birth mothers.
Even new dads can experience PPD. Depressed dads may notice themselves becoming more irritable than normal or finding themselves avoiding others more than usual. If this is the case, they may be experiencing PPD without knowing it. Postpartum dads are especially vulnerable to going without treatment not only because PPD isn't often studied in new dads but because men in general are less likely to get help when depressed.
Parenthood is hard on everyone: birth moms, adoptive moms, and new dads are all at-risk for PPD. No matter who you are, if you start experiencing feelings of depression, make sure you reach out to others. There is no reason to feel guilty for developing depression.
8 Guilty For Feeling Depressed
Nobody should have to feel guilty for a mood they can't control, yet depressed mothers often feel like they don't deserve treatment. After all, motherhood should be a happy time, right? They may feel like if they could just snap out of it, they'd be able to appreciate something they'd been looking forward to ever since they found out they were expecting. When they can't do it, they may feel a lot of unnecessary shame.
What's worse, new mothers may even beat themselves up for their depression because it makes them "not good enough" for their baby. If their mother did not experience PPD, they may worry that they're not a responsible mother and that their baby deserves someone who is not depressed and can, from their perspective, handle motherhood better.
Mothers with PPD are valuable and capable of being a mom, regardless of whether they feel that's true. What depressed moms need is not punishment but help. If you ever feel guilty about your depression, know that this is the depression itself talking to you. You are worth so much more than postpartum can make you feel sometimes.
Treatment for postpartum depression can involve a lot of things. The best first step is to talk to your ob-gyn or a medical professional, who can then recommend to you some options depending on your needs. Some moms find support groups help them best. Others prefer talking to someone one-on-one via counselling. Others try one or both of these things alongside medication and support from loved ones at home.
All of these things are important, but don't forget how necessary self-care can be. Depressed moms can overexert themselves easily and feel even more guilt than usual when they get burned out. Taking a little personal time to read a book or go on a relaxing walk can go a long way. Not only are you helping yourself recover, but as you heal, you're also going to find yourself with more energy and ability to face your daily tasks.
Self-care can seem selfish, but in many cases, it's anything but. Take a little time out of your day to recuperate from daily stressors and relax. When you need to face daily tasks again, you'll be able to do so with so much more strength than before.
6 "I Used To Be More Than A Mom"
PPD is complicated in every way. There is no one reason a mom develops postpartum depression, just like there is no one cure that works for everyone. Some moms might feel depressed for hormonal reasons or because they don't measure up. These are both commonly talked about reasons for PPD and generally receive more support.
Not a lot of people talk about another cause of PPD, however: they may feel like after they became a mother, everything they were before just isn't important anymore. Motherhood can be exhausting and, at times, overshadow other areas of life. If it becomes too overwhelming too fast, new moms can feel like everything else they used to be (like a friend, a college student, or an artist) has disappeared. This can be at best hard to cope with and, at worse, depressing.
Being a mom is important and can be wonderful, but it's not all you are. You are still the same person as before with all the positive traits and experiences you used to have. If you feel like motherhood is sucking all of your personality away, ask your spouse or a loved one to watch your baby for a little while and take time to reconnect with old hobbies or friends. You owe it to yourself.
5 Eating Disorders And PPD
PPD can involve more than just unhappiness. New moms may find themselves in a race against time to lose baby fat that just won't go away as fast as they'd want to. Their friends might post pictures on social media of how quickly they returned to a normal weight after birth and, in comparison, they may start to hate their bodies. Even moms who never struggled with eating disorders before can develop postpartum anorexia or bulimia in response to all that stress.
Even though you may wish your body reverted back to its old self after birth, new moms need to remember that pregnancy puts a lot of stress on the body. It may take time to lose baby fat no matter what you do. Your body is amazing and it has been through a lot over the past nine months. If you think you may be developing an eating disorder, seek help so you can find a healthier way to see it.
4 Awareness Is Important And So, So Needed
As mentioned earlier in the article, this month is Postpartum Awareness Month. The idea behind this was to draw a little more attention to PPD and alleviate some of the shame off new moms' shoulders. With every year that passes, it's hoped that May can bring along with spring flowers hope and understanding for new moms struggling with depression.
Depression deals with serious emotions and can be hard to understand. Both the person struggling with it and their loved ones may not always know what to do. For this reason, PPD and other depressive disorders aren't always talked about out loud. This is understandable, but not ideal for those suffering.
When an issue is surrounded in darkness and is rarely talked about, people struggling with it can feel unnecessary shame. Bringing it to light through awareness in all its many forms can be the hope someone suffering alone needs to seek help. Although it might be uncomfortable at first, bringing attention to Postpartum Awareness Month may provide support to someone you never knew needed it.
3 "I Feel Broken"
PPD can hit anyone, even people who have never struggled with depression before. The most extroverted socialites may suddenly find themselves spending the majority of their days alone and unhappy. If a person has never before dealt with depression, it's easy for them to feel broken and lost. These emotions are all too common for people who develop depression.
Depression may severely inhibit your quality of life, but it can never break you beyond repair. You always have the potential to piece yourself back together again. Mending PPD can involve medication, professional treatment, and support from those around you. Even though the path to recovery may be difficult, it is never so steep that it becomes out of reach.
2 This Is Mom's Journey, And Nobody Else's.
No person's journey recovering from PPD is the same. What works for one person might not always work for another. One mom with PPD may find that SSRIs do her a world of good, for example, but another might find no relief from antidepressants alone. Another may benefit greatly from exercise while her friend with PPD may find counseling key in recovering.
Opinions are everywhere, like this mother's tweet states, but this is an individual journey. Nobody can say what's best for you besides you and perhaps a medical professional. If something works for a friend but doesn't quite work for you, try not to feel overly critical of yourself. You'll find your way back to recovery. It just takes time.
1 Help Is Here
No matter what, moms with depression need to remember these three things: they are loved, they are not alone, and they deserve treatment. If you're on the fence about reaching out, do so. Talk to a loved one, perhaps a spouse or a close friend who you trust, and let them know how you've been feeling. Having someone to turn to when times get hard can make a world of difference.
In addition, reach out to your ob-gyn or a mental health clinician familiar with PPD who can understand your emotions from a professional level. Moms with PPD are strong, but nobody should have to go through this alone. These first steps can be difficult, but happiness awaits on the path ahead even if it doesn't feel like that at times. It gets harder before it gets easier.