“Suicidal thoughts can be shorthand for “I feel ashamed, alone, helpless, depressed, guilty, angry, hopeless, and fearful.” Suicidal thoughts can remind people that they are in ultimate control of their lives during times when they feel out of control and scared,” says Melissa Welby M.D.
The rate of suicide has skyrocketed in the past few years. Many people decide to cut their own lives. They are the ones who have lost hope and faith. These are the same persons who were not able to get the right help they need when they were struggling with depression and other mental health problems. No one was able to remind them that life is worth living and that they can survive it all.
Simply put, postpartum depression is the presence of a clinical depression during the postpartum period. In that way, postpartum depression is exactly like any other depression that is unrelated to childbirth. But there’s more to it than that,” says Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW.
There are common misconceptions that add further insult to injury.
It’s quite funny and distressing, at the same time, to hear things that clueless people say about postpartum depression(PPD) or depression in general. A lot of people believe that the condition is not real or is just something that came along with the pregnancy which will eventually go away once the beautiful baby is born.
“Women with peripartum major depressive episodes often have severe anxiety and even panic attacks during the peripartum period. Moreover, studies examining women pre-to-post-pregnancy demonstrate that those with anxiety or the “baby blues” during pregnancy are at increased risk for postpartum depression,” says John Grohol PsyD. Depression can manifest even before the mother gives birth.
The signs and symptoms of the condition are apparent that they’re not hard to miss.
How does one figure out if she is experiencing postpartum depression? According to research, about 20% of women who gave birth might show signs of having postpartum depression. Furthermore, PPD may not be immediately noticeable right after childbirth. Instead, it could manifest a year after the baby was born.
The statistics technically means that as a woman who is planning on getting pregnant, there is a chance that you might suffer from postpartum depression. On the other hand, if you just recently had a baby and are somehow curious if you are currently experiencing depression, there are specific indications that you might recognize.
Unraveling The Telltale Signs
“Different women react differently but normal baby blues are usually accompanied by moments of joy and wonder and happiness about the baby and motherhood. The emotions settle down after a couple of weeks and the routines and rhythms of new parenting get established,” says licensed marriage and family counselor Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
Though not all women will experience the same signs and symptoms, there is absolute consistency in the theme. While one mom can suffer from one or two symptoms, others will be overwhelmed by all of it. It is important to recognize that depression can take on many forms. Amongst others, here are some indicatory signs that you have PPD.
Choices Terrify You
When faced with a dilemma, mothers who have PPD will be severely anxious, especially if the decisions are regarding their babies. They will feel frightened and stifled with the thought that any choice can turn out badly. Moms would also feel the need for constant reassurance just to ease their worries and make sure that they are doing fine.
Sleep Is Elusive
Even if the baby is fast asleep, a depressed mom will find it hard to acquire a decent snooze at night. In the beginning, it is normal to lose sleep since mothers are wired to look after their newborns that tend to have irregular sleeping habits. Moms who do not get adequate sleep at night will experience significant health issues and find it hard to focus on regular daily tasks.
Despondency Does Not Go Away
Stress and exhaustion are normal in moderation; this is termed as “baby blues” and is prevalent during the first few weeks after childbirth. However, if the feeling of despair does not get relieved after a month or so, the sense of melancholia may have had evolved into depression.
Thoughts Of Hurting You And Your Baby Has Come To Mind
This occurrence might be one of the most horrible feelings that a depressed mom could endure. Though these hurtful visions and thoughts(like dropping the newborn in the tub) will occasionally cloud the mom’s mind, acting upon them is less likely. However, these visions and thoughts might make the mother feel bad about herself and is ashamed that those horrid ideas ever came to mind.
Disconnect From The Baby
Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH said “They are able to function in their roles but have significant anxiety and mood symptoms that rob them of the joy of being a mother and interfere with their ability to develop good attachment and bonding with their infants.”
Moms who have this particular level of disconnect from their babies – who feel that the motherly attachment is absent – may be experiencing postpartum depression. Being disheartened by the sight of the baby is considered one of the most common signs of PPD. This may lead to an insufficient amount of love, care, and nourishment given to the baby.
Do not be remorseful if you ever felt one or more of these signs and symptoms. However, it is advised to seek immediate medical attention once you’ve recognized that you are dealing with these manifestations for the sake of you and your baby.
“If I hear you say that one more time, I will throw you off a bridge,” the depressed mom thought with a huge, agonizing grin on her face. She nods and pretends to listen through the tedious, unhelpful monologue from her relatives that have no clue whatsoever about what postpartum depression is and how it actually feels.
The Painful Reality
According to Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, “Women with PPD usually have low mood, prominent anxiety and worry, disrupted sleep, feelings of being overwhelmed, and can also feel very guilty that they are not enjoying their experience of motherhood.”
It’s no secret that the majority of people will give out silly comments, opinions, or advice that are mostly directed to people who are suffering from mental illnesses. Having a baby and being depressed at the same time does not exempt the mother from being a vessel for unwanted remarks and superficial concern. In fact, it’s after childbirth that depressed women receive the most attention and criticisms.
Now this: You are not the only person who struggles with your frustrations of being a depressed mom. There are a lot of women with postpartum depression who are now victims of flimsy, unnecessary acknowledgments.
Side note: If you think you have postpartum depression, the most important thing that you should do is seek professional help to avoid distressing complications not only for you but for the baby as well.
“PPD is a serious illness that requires professional help. It’s highly treatable with psychotherapy and medication,” says Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Somehow, there will be a specific situation below that you will find relatable. These frustrations are laid out not to perpetuate or normalize these cases but to recognize it and possibly lessen its existence.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m supposed to feel a surge of maternal instinct, right? I’m supposed to love my baby. Why am I so overwhelmed and uninterested?”Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. says that these are the common words of women going in her office for therapy with their PPD.
You Are Just Dramatic
Telenovelas are dramatic, people with depression are not. Depression is a mental illness that does not go away overnight. It is as real as any other physical illness that requires medical attention. Telling a mom with postpartum depression that she is just over-reacting is similar to telling a person with chest pain that he is just climactic.
Your Baby’s Supposed To Take The Sadness Away
With postpartum depression, the baby somewhat becomes a trigger; not because the mother despises the child but because whenever the mom sees her baby, some uncontrollable thoughts and feelings start to arise. The worst part is that moms know that their babies are a source of happiness, which is why asking someone with PPD to be happy because of the baby makes that person suffer even more because part of their brain makes them hard to do so.
Visitations Are Agonizing
There are three classifications of people in this world – the ones who genuinely care, the ones who don’t give a crap, and the ones who pretend to care. The last one is the worst. Visitations are part of having a baby, but somehow, moms with PPD hate having people come over especially those who act like they care but in reality, they just want to pry and prove that they know what’s happening when in fact, they don’t.
Calling Out For The Weight Loss
Just to set things straight – depression leaves people with no desire whatsoever to do enjoyable, healthy activities that they used to do. Therefore, mothers who have PPD lose weight not because they are engaged in weight loss activities but because they have lost the appetite to take in the recommended nutrition.
Snap Out Of It
If depressed moms would have a dollar for hearing this from friends, family members, or even co-workers, she would’ve had a lifetime supply of depression medications and will have enough money to subscribe to an unlimited session with her therapist.
Again, if moms with postpartum depression could just “get over it,” they would have done so even before the condition worsened, but they can’t. And if you are experiencing PPD, it is comforting to know that other people can relate to your struggles and are willing to listen and understand.
You’ve heard about postpartum depression in moms. But, are you aware that dads can suffer too? Depression really does not choose a side or a gender. Though the numbers are not as high compared to the females, probably because only a few could bring it up, data is consistent in showing that PPD in men can happen and is happening.
“A new study discovers prenatal or postpartum depression is not limited to mothers. About 10 percent of fathers experience these forms of depression, with rates being highest in the three- to six-month postpartum period,” says Rick Nauert PhD, clinical psychologist.
Often, depression and infertility are in accord with each other.
“As her symptoms begin to define her, the feelings of sadness, fatigue, exhaustion, inadequacy, uncertainty and suicide permeate her day. Under the best of circumstances, even with sufficient support and excellent healthcare, this is a distressing picture,”Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW talks about a woman who is suffering severe depression.
Though a lot of notions lean towards the realization that infertility can cause depression, you might be surprised to know that people who have undergone depressive symptoms have higher chances of experiencing fertility problems. Additionally, it might strike you to realize that those who have postpartum depression are couples who have previously struggled with conception problems.
“The researchers remind us that stress is the one consistent factor that shows an effect on how long it takes to get pregnant, of all the lifestyle factors studied to date. More surprising is that even low levels of stress can have an impact on conception,”Connie Shapiro PhD talks about the correlation of stress and fertility in respect to a study conducted by Dr. Alice Domar.
Dealing with infertility can be daunting for affected couples. While some people have no problem with reproduction, some are having a hard time trying to make a baby.
“Although 1 in 8 couples struggle to get or stay pregnant, infertility feels rare. The more severe the case of infertility, the more unique the suffering can feel. There aren’t many people who truly appreciate the gravity of not having the eggs required to reproduce,” says Jamie Long Psyd.
The medical literature described other clinical states that can happen during pregnancy. It is important to differentiate and identify the clinical state of the mother as each may require a different approach. Some may need psychotherapy, medications, or none at all.
Baby Blues. Considered as the most common form of mood imbalance occurring as early as Day 5 following delivery period and will last until 10 or 14 days. If the symptoms are mild, the mothering role is not compromised, and treatment may not be needed. However, if symptoms worsen, this can lead to a full-blown PPD.
“A new baby is the most exciting event on earth, but caring for the baby is a major new life adaptation. Baby blues is very common – crying and irritability To deal with it, one needs loving support, and others on hand to share in the care,” psychiatrist Dr. Robert Berezin M.D. explains the condition.
Post-partum Depression is a psychological state involving depressive episodes in some mothers occurring during pregnancy or after giving birth. Treatments may include psychotherapy or administration of certain medications to manage or treat the psychological imbalance. Experts believe that this can happen to mothers whose pregnancy is a result of rape or sexual abuse, lack of support from families or the husband, history of mental illness in the family, and hormonal imbalance that happens during pregnancy that may affect the brain functioning to regulate mood and effect.
Postpartum Panic Disorder. Presenting almost the same clinical features of a panic attack, the condition does not primarily display depression but fear or being scared to death. Medications can be given immediately to help the mother get over with panic symptoms. SSRIs or Serotonin reuptake inhibitors can alleviate symptoms of heightened anxiety levels, and CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy can be used as the panic attacks become frequent.
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD). Another mental health state that does not clinically portray depression as the primary problem, but the intrusive thoughts and compulsions following feelings of anxiety over the new role or experience. This is very common for new or young mothers and fathers alike. Being new to the parenting role, they possess the state of fear that they will do harm than good to the infant thus a cycle of obsession and compulsive actions are developed. The good news is that this condition is treatable and only temporary.
Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PPPTSD). Giving birth can pose life-threatening situations both to the mother and the infant. Condition or circumstances like undergoing birth trauma such as forceps delivery, prolapse of the cord, or bleeding can lead to a traumatic experience for the mother and may eventually develop into post-traumatic stress disorder. This is also a temporary state and resolves once the mother has fully grasped the situation and with the help of mental health professionals and significant others.
“Postpartum PTSD is very different from Postpartum Depression. The former occurs as a result of trauma (or perceived trauma) during delivery, while the latter happens because of hormonal changes in a woman’s body as a natural result of giving birth,” according to Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD.
Postpartum Psychosis. The most serious and warrants hospital admission as the mother can be a threat to the infant or herself. The mother will be presenting significant signs of psychosis such as thought process deviations like hallucinations, illusion, and delusions. Since inpatient admission is required, the mother is prescribed with antipsychotic medications and psychotherapy in the later stages
Mothers need all the support, assistance, and care they need during pregnancy and after giving birth. The presence of the husband or father is very crucial during the whole pregnancy stage. Family support coming from first-degree family members is very significant to the mother while undergoing this phase of her life. One thing to remember is a happy pregnancy can lead to positive outlooks in the future.
To close, Robert J. Hedaya MD, DLFAPA, ABPN, CFM remind moms and dads: “I encourage child-bearing women to thoroughly discuss any mood disturbances with their physicians and their partner. Your emotional well-being is essential to your health, the health of your child, and the stability of your family.”