Many women suffer from postpartum depression far longer than they need to. As I reflect on my experience in motherhood, I wonder why this continues to happen. The conversations about postpartum depression, anxiety and all the other emotions that come along with motherhood have been mainstream for several years now, but it is very difficult to identify the symptoms yourself. It is even harder for a family member to step in and tell a mom she needs professional help, because no one wants to upset their loved ones. Mom is synonymous with Superwoman these days. I know that if a family member offered to help when my girls were babies, my programmed response was, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” Internally I was saying, “I don’t need your help.” I definitely didn’t recognize my own postpartum depression. In fact, this article from Scarymommy.com written by Dr. Anne Kennard is all about how she, an OB/GYN, didn’t even recognize her own symptoms! We are not alone and no one is immune to the challenges.
I was listening to a podcast recently where the host interviewed a working mom who described how she prepared her family to recognize the signs of postpartum depression. She had a meeting with her mom and husband and listed the symptoms they should watch out for. She explicitly told them that if they saw these signs, they needed to do something about it. Turns out, she did need help and her family intervened to make sure she took care of herself. I was absolutely stunned. Such a simple conversation would have literally changed my life. I suffered for 10 months before getting help. I should have trained my family to recognize the symptoms and force me to get help.
Obviously I can’t go back and change what happened, but maybe I can help someone else. No one should suffer for as long as I did. Here is a list of symptoms you can share with family members so that they can get you the help you need, especially if you don’t see the signs yourself.
You might have the Baby Blues if you…
●Cry for no apparent reason
●Have mood swings with irritability and anxiousness
●Experience a change in eating or sleeping
You might have Postpartum Depression if you…
●Feel sad, hopeless and/or overwhelmed
●Have trouble sleeping and eating
●Feel guilty or worthless
●Lose interest in things you used to enjoy
●Withdraw from family and friends
●Have no interest in your baby
●Have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
You might have Postpartum Anxiety if you…
●Experience changes in eating and sleeping
●Have racing thoughts that you have difficulty controlling
●Are constantly worried
●Have an impending fear that something bad is going to happen
●Have trouble sitting still and focusing
●Have physical symptoms such as dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
There is also a great pamphlet from The Office on Women’s Health, which is headed by the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is a Q and A about Postpartum depression, the causes, the symptoms, and what can be done to help. Read it, know it, share it!
If you are a new mom, or know someone who will be, please talk with your family. Educate the people in your life that you trust to act in your best interest and get you help when you need it. And if no one has told you yet today, please know that you are AMAZING and IMPORTANT to this world and to your family.