When I became a Child Development teacher, I started learning more about how it affects new mothers regardless of age, income, or ethnicity, and how much shame is associated with the majority who face it. Why would women reach out for help if they are often shamed when they do? If they don't know why they are experiencing what they are experiencing? If they feel alone and isolated in their experiences? I wanted to have good conversations with my students about the normal and difficult struggles that it takes to be a new parent. Many had never heard of postpartum depression before, some asked their parents if they were affected, and I had two students who were actually struggling with it as teen mothers sitting right in front me each day.
As a therapist, I see it much more commonly in the women that come in my office for other things. They are stressed, tired and trying to balance being a new mom. When we start identifying the symptoms, it becomes obvious that they are indeed struggling with something, they just had no idea what. Other clients come in having read about it, or talked to someone they know that has it. They just don't know where to start with receiving treatment. It's not talked about enough, it's not normalized enough, and we are not doing enough to empower women to seek help and feel okay about it.
Flash forward to this year, when a co worker of mine and I decided to start a group. We are both passionate about women's wellness, and both passionate about helping a group of women that we realize is not being helped enough. Our group is targeted at providing support and education to women who are struggling with postpartum depression. We will teach healthy coping skills, collaborate, validate experiences and provide resources for women that may not be receiving these things in their daily lives.
So what is it? In a nutshell--postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression can experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion that can make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or others. It does not have a single cause, but likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors. It is important to note: postpartum depression does not occur because of something the mother does or does not do.
What can you do? It is important to meet with your health care provider immediately if you feel as though you might be struggling with this. From there, they might recommend therapy and/or medication, depending on what is the best fit for you and your child. It is important to understand that it can be treated, and should not be left to go away on its own.
If you feel as though you may be in crisis (there is a possibility you might harm yourself or your baby), please contact the following crisis resources:
1. Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room
2. Call the toll free 24 hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/suicideprevention
3. National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) www.hopeline.com
4. PPD Moms 1-800-PPDMOMS http://www.1800ppdmoms.org
Additional Non-Crisis Resources:
1. Local health care provider
2. Friend or family member
3. Community group
"We need more women willing to say, "I've been there and I'm here. You can always talk to me without judgement." -Unknown