• Lady J

The Ups and Downs of Postpartum Depression

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Having a baby is a beautiful thing and can bring great joy into you and your family’s life.  From the time you find out you’re pregnant until the time you give birth you go through so many emotions.  They range from fear, excitement, joy, trepidation just to name a few. What emotions you may not have been prepared for are anger, excessive sadness, anxiety and the list of negative emotions can go on and on.

It’s normal to feel a tad blue after birth, you go through a mourning period of you will of your old life.  Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but let’s be honest, it’s exhausting and sometimes you just want to sleep or just be left alone for a while.  Postpartum depression is common and treatable. Let’s dig in and see what can be learned about PPD!

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

PPD is more than having the baby blues.  PPD symptoms last longer, are more intense and interfere with your life.  Your symptoms can start during pregnancy, but can develop within a few weeks after giving birth and last up to a year.

According to MayoClinic.org, PPD symptoms and signs can include the following:

  • 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're not a good mother

  • Hopelessness

  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy

  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions

  • Restlessness

  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

If you experience any of the signs and symptoms, please let your doctor know ASAP.  If untreated, your depression can get worse and last longer.

To read about postpartum psychosis, click HERE.

When to See a Doctor

My experience with PPD was rough as I shared my story in last week's newsletter - I felt angry, bitter, alone, frustrated.  All of those emotions made me feel ashamed because I wasn’t the happy bubbly mom that people expect moms to be. That shame kept me from talking about what was going through my head and how I felt.  If you feel like I did including the symptoms mentioned above it’s time to see a doctor. If you need further confirmation that you need to see a doctor if experience any of the following:

  • Don't fade after two weeks

  • Are getting worse

  • Make it hard for you to care for your baby

  • Make it hard to complete everyday tasks

  • Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your child, call 911 immediately for help

What Causes PPD and What Are The Risk Factors

Mayoclinic.org states that there is no single cause of PPD, list 2 suggestions that play a role:

Physical - while pregnant your body goes through so many hormonal changes, however, after child birth those hormones drop and sharply too.  With the changes in your hormones, it can leave you feeling tired, lethargic and depressed. Emotional - sleepless nights, weight issues, anxiety, finding a new identity and getting used to a new normal can contribute to postpartum depression

Even though there may no known specific cause for PPD, there are certain risk factors that increases your chances of experiencing PPD:

  • You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times

  • You have bipolar disorder

  • You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy

  • You have twins, triplets or other multiple births

  • You have difficulty breast-feeding

To read the complete list of risk factors, head over to MayoClinic.org

Can Postpartum Depression Be Prevented

Please tell your doctor if you have a history of depression when and if you plan to get pregnant.  Giving them this information can help in 2 ways:

During pregnancy

  • Being monitored by your doctors to see how your symptoms are under control

  • Support groups, therapy or counseling

  • Medication

After childbirth

  • Postpartum screening to check for signs and symptoms

  • Medication

  • Psychotherapy

How is PPD Treated?

How bad your PPD is can influence how you are going to be treated.  However, you can be treated with:

  • Psychotherapy - talking through your concerns with a mental health professional

  • Medication - your doctor can prescribe antidepressants

Lifestyle and Home Remedies

As with any negative issues in your life, change bad habits for good ones is always a plus and can help you heal in many ways. Below are a few lifestyle changes that can help ease your PDD symptoms:

  • Make healthy choices - try to exercise, eat right, get rest etc

  • Set realistic expectations - don’t expect to be perfect, you’ll make mistakes and that’s ok - don’t be too hard on yourself

  • Take time for yourself - get your nails and hair done, go out with friends, get a massage and don’t feel guilty about it either. How can you take care of your new baby if you don’t take care of you?

  • Avoid isolation - don’t cut yourself off from people, it will only make you feel worse.

  • Ask for help - you are NOT weak if you ask for help because being a new mom is tough.  Your body is changing, you’re not sleeping, and getting used to your new normal can take its toll on you.  If you need someone to watch your little one so you can take a nap, do it. If you need to ask your partner to take the baby outside so you can shower and pamper yourself, do it.  At dinner time, ask your partner to feed the baby so you can eat without interruption. Asking for help is part of self care and it is not selfish!

In the End….

Having a baby and adding to your family is a beautiful experience, but for some women it’s not and this does NOT make you a bad mother.  If you already struggle with depression, you are more prone to develop PPD. Now that you know the symptoms, causes and risk factors you’re ahead of the game and talk to your doctor and come up with a treatment plan. 

Remember Brown Girls, I got through it and so can you. I believe in you and you are NOT alone!

Did you know that I now have a podcast? It's called, For My BrownGirls! Podcast and you can listen to it HERE!

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*I am not a licensed therapist.  This post does not serve as a form of therapy or diagnosis.  If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or your doctor.