Here in TheMotherhood, we are continually awed by the collective wisdom of moms and how we help each other to make things a little better every day.
Yesterday, we saw this goodness in action in a really big way.
We hosted a live chat on postpartum depression and anxiety, led by experts and mom bloggers who went through PPD themselves. The love and support and information shared were incredibly valuable and beautiful.
And, so many of the important facts shared AREN’T WIDELY KNOWN.
We all need to know how widespread postpartum depression and anxiety is (up to 20% of moms get it), that it can appear during pregnancy, immediately afterwards or even months and months after childbirth.
PPD doesn’t always look like depression. Sometimes it can manifest as anxiety and/or OCD behavior and compulsions.
There are drugs you can take while breastfeeding.
And most importantly, as the wonderful Katherine Stone said, for everyone going through it, you need to know that PPD is TEMPORARY and TREATABLE. You will feel better, and these amazing, loving women are here to help and support you.
Katherine Stone, who blogs at the widely read Postpartum Progress, led the conversation and was joined by clinical psychologist Dr. Shoshana Bennett, and four stellar mom bloggers, Lauren Hale, Amber Koter-Puline, Alexis Lesa and Victoria Mason.
Following are some quotes from the conversation. (Really, though, they are just a sampling. Read the whole chat and be sure to click on “view all comments” under each post – on the “symptoms of PPD” post, for example, there are 22 comments.)
You Will Not Always Feel Like This
I want to kick off by saying the most important thing about postpartum depression and anxiety, or any mental illness related to pregnancy, childbirth and new motherhood: It’s not your fault, and what you have is TEMPORARY and TREATABLE. (Katherine Stone)
You will be yourself again, and will be *honestly* happy again. You will love life, love being a mom, and love your kids… it is TEMPORARY! And support is here. (Kim Rogers)
PPD creates a different person within the person. When I was at my worst, I felt like someone else was living in my body, and it was the most frightening thing I’d ever experienced. But it was even more horrifying when I thought that the things I was doing was because of the person I was. When I finally realized that the PPD was causing very different actions and reactions than my normal self would do, my attitude toward myself changed a lot. (Alexis Lesa)
You Are Not Alone
Hugs here too. I had four bouts of PPD, and made it through. You WILL survive this. Keep in touch with women here, you will get better. (mindimer)
I suffered from this after the birth of my first son and during my pregnancy with my second son and after his birth. It was a long battle … I am doing much better. I think it is so important to spread the word about this and how it isn’t just a few weeks of the “blues.” (Shannon)
I would want moms suffering right now to know that it won’t always be so dark and hopeless. You aren’t alone. More and more moms are sharing their experiences and reaching out to other moms. As we do this, it increases awareness, builds support, and we can also help encourage each other to seek good professional help. (lauren-hale)
1 in 8 new moms in the US develops a Postpartum Mood Disorder. (lauren-hale)
While the CDC states that approx. 12% of women get PPD, we believe the numbers are much higher. After all, the CDC’s numbers are based on self-reported cases, and many women never report their illness. I believe it’s around 20%. And in areas where there is high poverty, it’s 25%. (Katherine Stone)
You Are Not Weak
Feeling vulnerable isn’t weakness. Those of us who have “been there” certainly understand what it feels like to be shaky after a depression or anxiety, when we didn’t feel shaky before. If the level of fear is high, or you find yourself obsessing about it, talk with someone with expertise who can reassure you. Often with this extra bit of education you can learn to self-calm instantly. (Dr. Shosh)
It was really hard to admit that I was so depressed, but such a relief once I got help. I was treated with meds and saw a therapist briefly. I still see this as one of my strongest moments, not my weakest. (Holly)
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If the normal, mild Baby Blues aren’t gone by about 3 weeks postpartum and they linger, get help. Also, if the severity of the symptoms get in the way of your daily life, even if it’s immediately following the delivery, don’t wait – get help right away. If a woman isn’t able to sleep AT NIGHT when her baby is sleeping, this is also a warning sign to get help now. (Dr. Shosh)
It’s such a tough road to travel, especially when the therapy you’ve tried isn’t working. It’s so crucial to communicate with your caregivers about how things are going. Remaining silent only hurts you. Your caregivers are only able to help you with what you share. (lauren-hale)
Where I used to live, there was a wonderful support group that I attended, and it was great! I still stay in contact with the nurse who runs it as well as a couple of the other moms. (Nicole)
I’d love them to know two things: don’t be afraid, ashamed to seek help and also there is a long life ahead and PPD is a bump in the road of life and can be a maturing experience from which to draw depth & strength later on in life. (Kathy Morelli)
Sometimes women hesitate to reach out and seek help/treatment because they find themselves on a roller coaster daily, hourly or even by the minute. Feeling like your emotions are not easy to regulate right now is definitely something I would encourage you to share with your doctor. (Amber Koter)
PPD Can Develop Anytime
Can PPD develop months after birth? (Sara)
Absolutely! It did for me both times. I would hit the two month mark and BAM! I’m six week post-birth right now with my third and getting a little freaked out. I keep waiting for it to hit me like a truck. (Victoria Mason)
Yes. It can show up in the first couple of months, but some women don’t get it, or don’t notice it, until much later. (Katherine Stone)
PPD can begin any time within the first year following delivery. But, there’s nothing to be afraid of – you just need a wellness strategy. (Dr. Shosh)
There’s a huge difference between postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP). If PPP is going to occur, it typically is there within the first month (it usually begins within the first few days following delivery). As long as you’re working with an MD – preferably a psychiatrist – who has expertise in this field, don’t be concerned with being on two antidepressants. Hopefully you’re also working with someone to help you with a comprehensive wellness plan including nutrition, sleep, exercise, and the right types of support. (Dr. Shosh)
Give Yourself Time
The best advice my mom gave me in the thick of it all was to stop watching the clock. Once I did, such a weight lifted off my shoulders. After all, if you’re not watching the clock, the clock can’t “watch” you! (lauren-hale)
It’s important to know that there is no exact timeline for recovery. The length of time it takes to get better depends on so many things: the severity of your illness, how much support you have, how long you had the illness before you reached out for help, how effective the treatment is that you are taking. Make sure not to compare your recovery to anyone else’s (not that you are). Instead, keep communicating with your doctor about your symptoms so he or she can see if the plan you have is working or if changes need to be made. (Katherine Stone)
It can take a mom with no events after birth up to 2 years to fully recover emotionally and physically after the birth of a child. Recovery is such a slippery slope with no real time frame. It depends on you, the success of the therapy you’re involved in, what’s going on, what continues to happen with you, etc. (lauren-hale)
Planning Another Pregnancy After PPD
It’s important to find a specialist in perinatal mental health whenever possible – otherwise it can be so frustrating (as you’ve already experienced)! With an excellent plan of action for your next pregnancy, you can help minimize – and often prevent – another episode. (Dr. Shosh)
Having another child after postpartum is a very personal decision. I would recommend reading “What Am I Thinking: Having a Baby After Postpartum” by Karen Kleiman. As for how to deal with it while pregnant, Dr. Shosh has an excellent book – “Pregnant on Prozac” which addresses this issue better than any book I’ve ever read. (lauren-hale)
Research does show that you have an increased risk of getting it again if you’ve had it once, but that’s not a guarantee. The best thing to do would be to work with a psychiatrist or other perinatal mental health specialist to create a plan and look out for you. (Katherine Stone)
Take Care of Yourself
Remembering to care for yourself (which is not a selfish act, as well mama=well baby and family) is very important. Considering what activities and types of support would benefit you and then seeking that out is sometimes overwhelming when sad and fatigued but worth the effort. Exercise, time alone, getting outdoors, taking vitamins and supplements that will improve your health and have shown mental health benefits (such as B and D vitamins and omega-3s), etc. can make a huge difference. Of course, these efforts are many times just supplements to the treatment plan your doctor will offer (which may or may not include medications, therapy, etc.). (Amber Koter)
I have had great results with Celexa. And as corny as this sounds- exercise has been a lifesaver for me. I go out for a run or a walk or to the gym and it saves me. I journaled the first time around too. I talked with a lot of women in the same boat online as well. (Victoria Mason)
Talk to a psychiatrist. They can usually help you find the right prescription/dosage. It’s not an exact science, so sometimes it takes more than one try. (Alexis Lesa)
The truth is that different meds work differently for different people. So what one person says worked for them on this forum really doesn’t matter. Your body is unique. That’s why you have to talk continuously and openly about your symptoms and side effects. Also, if you feel your doc isn’t listening or you are getting nowhere, it’s ok to get a new one. You can always ask one of us who the specialists are, as there may be one in your area. (Katherine Stone)
The wonderful women who co-hosted the Talk were:
Blog: Postpartum Progress: www.postpartumprogress.com
Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
Lauren B. Hale
Blog: My Postpartum Voice http://www.mypostpartumvoice.com
Twitter chats every Monday at 1pm & 830pm EST at #PPDChat
Blog: The Mummy Chronicles http://www.themummychronicles.com
Blog: Beyond Postpartum http://www.atlantappdmom.blogspot.com/
Blog: Depressions and Confessions http://www.depressionsandconfessions.com/
Resources for You and Your Partner
List of PPD and PPA Symptoms http://www.postpartumprogress.com/weblog/2009/11/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english-1.html
The Edinburgh assessment is available here, as well as a phone number for depression support: http://www.virtua.org/health/depression-and-pregnancy/overview.aspx
The Postpartum Dads Project: http://postpartumdadsproject.org/
Postpartum Support International hosts a once monthly free call just for dads to get information and support. Find out more here: http://postpartum.net/Get-Help/PSI-Chat-with-an-Expert.aspx#chats_for_men
Been-there dad blog: http://www.daddysdown.com
Dr. Courtenay’s site for men with Paternal Postnatal Depression: http://www.saddaddy.com
See the original Talk here: http://tmotherhood.wpengine.com/talk/show/id/62052