May is National Maternal Depression Month, it is also Mental Health Awareness month. In light of this Alliance Ob/Gyn wants to bring light to Postpartum Depression or PPD. The silent cloud that plagues 15-%20 of women who gave birth, miscarried, or had a still birth needs to be discussed. If you suffer from postpartum depression, you are not alone. There is information and resources that can help you and educate you.
Many women who suffer from postpartum depression often have postpartum anxiety. Often mistaken for “baby blues”, PPD lasts much longer and the signs and symptoms are more intense, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. According to Mayo Clinic Women who have postpartum depression are women who have had a baby within the last 12 months and exhibit the following symptoms;
- Feeling overwhelmed-feeling like you will never be able to handle the responsibilities of motherhood and doubting and questioning your decision to become a mother.
- Guilt for believing you should be handling motherhood better, feeling tat your baby deserves better, or may even be better off without you
- Numbness, a feeling of being empty
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive Crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to Sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you are not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, and or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
(Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015)
When is it time to see a Doctor?
When left untreated postpartum depression may last longer and symptoms may worsen. If you are experiencing some of the above symptoms and they do not dissipate in two weeks, get worse, hinder you from completing daily tasks and are having thoughts of self harm or harm to your baby, it is time to schedule an appointment with your doctor and get help. If you are not experiencing PPD but have a loved one or friend who is exhibiting the above symptoms or has spoken to you about it, we urge you to assist them in seeking help and not wait around hoping for things to get better.
Having thoughts of self harm? Here are your options!
If you are experiencing thoughts of self harm or harming your baby it is time to reach out. This is a very serious matter and we urge you to seek help help from your loved ones or close friends/family, calling 911 is another option and they will talk you through the difficult time and options.
Here are some options that may help you if you start to experience suicidal thoughts
- Reach out to your mental health specialist. If you do not have one consult with your insurance company to help you locate a provider that takes your insurance in your area.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Seek help from your Obstetrician, Midwife, primamy care doctor, or other physician that you feel comfortable with.
- If you are involved in a faith based community, reach out to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader.
The risk of suffering from PPD inscrease if…
- You have bipolar disorder
- You have a history of depression either during pregnancies or when you are not pregnant
- You have experienced PPD after a previous pregnancy
- You have a family history of depression or other mood disorders
- Stressful events during your pregnancy
- Your newborn has or will have health problems, or other special needs
- you are experiencing Difficulty with breast feeding
- You and your spouse/significant other are having relationship issues
- You are having financial problems
- You lack a reliable support system
- Your pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
Behaviors that are protective of maternal Mental health
Preventing PPD is very important and can only be done through awareness and education. Getting to know your risk factors and identifying symptoms early can make a world of difference. Try to embrace the healthy behaviors that can reduce your risk and even help alleviate symptoms if you find you fall into that category.
- Breastfeeding is protective of maternal mental health IF you are not having problems with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding decreases stress and inflammatory responses.
- Decreasing relationship stress with your spouse or significant other
- Increasing your intake of B-Complex Vitamins
- Eating a healthy balanced diet
- The research on the relationship between what foods you consume/gut health and the brain are outstanding. The healthier the diet the healthier your brain will be.
- Getting active increases, the feel good neurochemical Serotonin in the blood which results in lowered anxiety and improved mood!
- Getting enough Rest and Sleep
- Yes, we realize this may sound impossible to new mothers but it is very important to your mental health and energy levels.
- Try resting when your baby sleeps, and do not be afraid to ask for help when needed!
- Stay hydrated!
- Drink plenty of water! Dehydration is directly linked to anxiety and lack of energy.
- If you breastfeed, this puts you at higher risk of dehydration, so make sure you drink up and replenish your body!
- Reduce Stress
- Try some stress reducing techniques to easy your mind and relax your nerves.
- Mediation, deep breathing techniques, exposure to nature and sun, yoga, and tea are just a few great stress reduction modalities that you can incorporate into your day.
Remember ladies, you are not alone, feel free to reach out to our women’s health specialists for questions and concerns about your emotional wellbeing.
Mayo Clinic Staff
National Institutes of Health