Post-Partum Depression & Post-Partum Anxiety: A Voice in the Silence

Thank you to my sweet friend Tara, who encouraged me to write and talk about my experiences with PPA.

I highly recommend this book-- so good!!
I haven't seen any of my friends write on this subject, and I'm hoping it's because they haven't experienced these mood disorders.

But I have felt strongly that I need to give a voice to the mothers who have experienced this and feel ashamed. I know I didn't want to admit I had PPA. What would people think if they knew I hated my new life? What would people say if they asked me how I liked motherhood and I just broke down crying? What would people think if they knew I hated the sound of my baby crying? When I didn't feel any maternal nurturing and love I assumed I would have right away, and the guilt was crushing.

There is still a social stigma for PPD and PPA, and it needs to stop. These disorders are real, they absolutely disrupt the lives of mother/baby/husband/family, and it is absolutely NOT okay to judge a mother who admits to having either/both of these. Up to one in seven moms will experience some form of PPD or PPA, which means you probably know someone who has suffered from this.

Knowledge is power, so let's have a little learning session via Postpartum.net & Mental Health America:

What is PPD and PPA?
"Pregnancy (also called antepartum) or Postpartum Depression. A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself.


Pregnancy (also called antepartum) or Postpartum Anxiety. A woman with PPA may experience extreme worries and fears, often over the health and safety of the baby. Some women have panic attacks and might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, and numbness and tingling.

What are the factors that contribute to PPD?
The causes of PPD are not quite clear but research suggests that the following factors may contribute to the onset of PPD:
  • Hormonal changes: A woman experiences the greatest hormonal fluctuation levels after giving birth. Intense hormone fluctuations, such as decreased serotonin levels, occur after delivery and may play a role in the development of PPD.
  • Situational risks: Childbirth itself is a major life change and transition, and big changes can cause a great deal of stress and result in depression. If a major event coincides with childbirth, a mother may be more susceptible than average to PPD.
  • Life Stresses: Ongoing stressful circumstances can compound the pressures of having a new baby and may trigger PPD. For example, excessive stress at the office added to the responsibilities of being a mother can cause emotional strain that could lead to PPD.
What treatments are available?
Taking antidepressant medication may help alleviate the symptoms of PPD and should be combined with ongoing counseling with a therapist trained in issues surrounding childbirth. Studies show that some antidepressant medications have no harmful effects on breastfeeding infants. Psychotherapy alone may also be used to treat PPD. New mothers should be encouraged to talk about their feelings or fears with others. Socializing through support groups and with friends can play a critical role in recovery. Exercise and good nutrition may improve a new mother’s mood and also aid in recovery. Caffeine should be avoided because it can trigger anxiety and mood changes.

Is PPD/PPA preventable?
In most cases PPD is preventable; early identification can lead to early treatment. A major part of prevention is being informed about the risk factors and the medical community can play a key role in identifying and treating PPD. Women should be screened by their physician to determine their risk for acquiring PPD. Because social support is also a vital factor in prevention, early identification of mothers who are at risk can enable a woman to seek support from physicians, partners, friends, and coworkers."

I think the most important thing to do is actively try to prevent PPD/PPA. Don't stay locked up in your house all day. Get out. Go to your family's house. Go see a friend. Go for a walk in the park. Don't be afraid to talk with your husband/family/mommy-friends about what you are feeling.

And if you have symptoms that don't go away after the initial "baby blues" period after labor & delivery, please get help. You are not alone. There are many women who suffer in silence (ahem... ME) who are too afraid to admit what they're feeling. Your baby, your husband, your family, your friends, will notice a huge difference (and be so grateful!!) when you get the help you need. The bond I have with my daughter is so strong now and I love her more than anything in the world-- enough to {almost} happily sacrifice any amount of my bedtime to soothe her back to sleep. I would have given anything to feel this way last summer.

As if I didn't already love Scrubs enough... the PPD episode put my love on a whole new level. EVEN though they portray PPD with just two nights of Carla crying-- I assume that was because of time constraints on a half-hour episode. Most PPD/PPA goes on for days, weeks, months. They tackle the problem beautifully, in a funny way, that makes me and Eric laugh our heads off every time we watch it, because this was our life (except I didn't want to drop my baby off the roof when she cried. I just wanted to throw something through the window... brick... book.. lamp... um... NOT NORMAL!! Fortunately, our windows and my sanity are safe and intact because I got help.) Please watch this short clip and enjoy:


Here are some useful links:
Websites:
Blogs by Survivors & Advocates:
For Dads, Families and Friends:
  • Postpartum Dads Project
    http://postpartumdadsproject.org
    An informational site focusing on what men experience when their partners have perinatal mood/anxiety disorders. Offers stories from real dads as well as advice on how to help your partner.
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15 comments :

  1. New follower from Take it From Me hop. You're very brave to write about this sensitive topic. I have a friend who suffered with post-partum. She too became empowered, found her voice and educated other women. If you get the chance please come visit me over at www.caveprincess.com Good luck :)

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    1. It really helps to write about it! And then it helps even more to read about other women who have gone through it! It's really been therapeutic for me. Thanks for stopping by!!

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  2. Oh Tracie you are so brave. I experienced this too, but have never spoken about it, because it was so personal and difficult for me. I admire you so much for helping other women - really thank you. Love you girl! xo

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    1. Oh Jess, I am so sorry you went through some of this. It's so hard, especially when you think you're the only one going through it! Facebook posts from other women who love motherhood and have no problem giving up sleep don't help when you're down in the dumps. SO glad you're feeling better!!

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  3. Thanks for sharing.......

    Follower from the 99% blog hop!!

    Please check out my blog and follow back!

    www.myrafrancis.blogspot.com

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    1. I love meeting new women on all these blog hops!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your web address!

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  4. This sounds kind of cheesy, but I think we would be really good friends! haha! I hope you don't mind, but I'm linking you on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Bahaha, I already think of us as good friends. And I already added you to my blog roll on the side. So excited for you to have another baby!

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  5. Loved reading this. Loved your honesty and I'm glad to be educated on PPD and PPA. I definitely think I experienced symptoms of both when I first had Myles.

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    1. Thanks Mary! It's a lot more common than people think. I just want to get that info out there! Glad you're doing better!

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  6. Oh my! Your blog is wonderful. I love your writing style and your passion to talk about this. It will help to change the stigma. I'm a new MBC follower and look forward to your future posts!
    Cheers,
    Tess
    www.inlovebythebeach.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you so much! I love to write and it makes me feel good when I get good feedback. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I loved reading this. Even though I'm not a mom, I can totally relate to the stigma of depression of any kind. It's awesome to see strong women who will speak out about it. You rock!

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    1. I HATE the stigma of depression! I will do anything to fight it! Thanks for commenting!!

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  8. So many women go through this! Love the scrubs video!

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