A special Mother's Day post: Postpartum Depression
This is Part 2 of a blog series dealing with difficult challenges. We talk about infertility, fostering and now, postpartum depression.
“It’s okay not to be okay.”
I also have my own story with postpartum depression as I’ve shared on social media. I experienced it again recently follow a miscarriage in April. However, I love sharing the experiences of others to help others see that they aren’t the only ones who struggle through this issue.
The Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative says that depression is the number one complication of childbirth. Oftentimes, PPD is part of a trauma reaction called Birth Trauma Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Around 25% of all moms will develop some symptoms of PTSD after childbirth. All the signs and symptoms of maternal anxiety and mood disorders can also be experienced by women who experience a miscarriage or infant loss, deal with infertility, adoption or termination.
Melissa Wheeler, another friend of mine from college, shared her experiences with PPD following the birth of her second son. Because of a traumatic experience when her first son was just days old, all those fears and trauma came back to her. From her blog post, she wrote:
"It began with the anxiety - I could not sleep and startled at the littlest noises. I was shaky and my heart beat too fast. I was overwhelmed with hopelessness and felt distant from everyone. It was like I wasn't even living in my own body.
"In my mind, my life was over. I cried and cried, knowing I was broken and would never be the same. My thoughts were not rational and turned to the worst case scenario in everything.
"My doctor promised me I would get better. He promised these were common and normal experiences for women who dealt with postpartum depression. He promised that if it got too unbearable, he would check me in to the hospital and help me sleep."
She said that he was right - she did get better. Melissa slowly healed as she met with a counselor, was put on antidepressants and as she talked and processed with other women who had similar experiences.
At least 60 percent of moms with PPD had symptoms that began during pregnancy. And anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia, anger and constant worry are often more common in PPD than sadness and feelings of depression. Maternal mental health experts also said that the postpartum period is from birth through the first two years.
The Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborate has some amazing resources local and national for anyone who suspects they are struggling with PPD.