Postpartum Depression: An Overview

Let’s talk about Postpartum Depression.

I know. It sounds heavy; but it can’t all be easy topics, and this one is near and dear to my heart. I have been very open about  the fact that I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression after the birth of my son. I was luckier with my daughter, and it has been much milder. However, it could be that I was just better prepared to deal with it. I just want to take this opportunity to elaborate on the condition a little bit.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines the condition like this: “Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.” (2018)

Most women get hit with a rush of Baby Blues after the birth of a child. It is totally natural with the rush of hormones dropping once the baby leaves your body. It’s so easy to fall into worries when a new little life is depending on you for LITERALLY everything. What makes PPD different is lasting or lingering symptoms, such as unexplained anger or annoyance, uncontrollable or unpredictable crying, problems with sleeping and eating (too much or too little, respectively), inability to concentrate, withdrawal, problems bonding with your new baby, or, at the extreme, thought of harming yourself or the child. (Its worth noting here that men can also get postpartum depression!) It can effect ANYONE. 

You are more likely to develop PPD if you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with depression, you have developed it before with a previous pregnancy, you have medical complications in your pregnancy, you have a baby with medical problems or baby that goes to the NICU, or don’t have strong support system. For me, I had a very complex pregnancy. I actually developed depression and anxiety before my son was even born! I was constantly ill and weak, and eventually became very withdrawn and agoraphobic. I developed pretty much every symptom in the book, including severe carpal tunnel in both of my hands and wrists, and then on top of it, when into premature labor. After laboring for 3 days, my son was taken directly to the NICU. I did not hold my baby until after he had been alive almost 8 full hours. I was the perfect storm for PPD to strike.

Mostly PPD is treated with seeing a therapist and medication. However some non-medical ways that sometimes help manage the symptoms are herbal supplants or essential oils, extra or uninterrupted sleep (since lack of sleep can make the symptoms worse), exercise, meditation, some alone time, or setting aside some time to do something that makes you happy. 

I had to use a large combination of all these things to combat my depression. My husband took the nightshifts with my son on the weekends so I could get some uninterrupted sleep during those early months. I set aside time to color (one of my big stress relievers!) and read, even if it was only a few minutes a day. I saw a therapist at least once a week, and was put some depression medication to help stabilize my feelings. When my husband would go out town for work, I would fly to my parents so I could have extra hands to help me love and take care of this baby. I started yoga as a way to help me cope and be alone for an hour a couple of times a week with a gym that had in house childcare. Even with all of this amazing help, it still took me almost a year to start to feel like myself. 

You may be asking yourself, “but why bring it up here on a pinup blog?” This topic is SO IMPORTANT! We are a community of women who, in my experience, are vastly supportive and willing to help and listen to others. Many of us have suffered with depression or anxiety, especially because we work and love in a field that is heavily based on how we look and present ourselves. Many of us are mothers. This is the perfect place to talk about this. Mental Health doesn’t need to be stigmatized, and we as a community can be part of the movement to get OUR SISTERS the help we need, but are too afraid to ask for!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you feel like this might be you, do not hesitate to reach out to someone! Start with your spouse, and your doctor. I could not have made it through this without the help of my family and my midwife, who cared so deeply to make sure I got the help I needed. 

Likewise, if you have a story you want to share, leave me a comment or send me an email! I am deeply committed to trying to help people deal with this illness, and I feel so much compassion for you! We are all warrior mommas in our own way! I appreciate you and everything you are going through!

If you want to know more about postpartum depression, I recommend clicking HERE

If you feel like you need to talk, or you have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Genna XOXO

Resources

Postpartum Depression Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

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