The definition of postpartum depression is “depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from a combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood and fatigue.”
My not so silent battle.
Life was perfect; until it wasn’t. It all started one night at dinner and I just broke down crying for no reason. I thought, “Okay, baby blues are normal. I’m fine.” Then it happened the next night and the next and the next. It was like clockwork, five o’clock rolls around and I’m a puddle of tears hardly eating my dinner. I was 1-week post-baby, and everything was going wonderful. We had a beautiful almost-three-year-old and a healthy newborn.
When I think of postpartum depression I think of sadness. But sadness was not what I was feeling. I was feeling anger, confusion, helplessness. And if I wasn’t feeling any of those, I was feeling nothing at all. Even as I write this I don’t even know what to say, because the despair I was dealing with was so unexplainable I have a hard time putting it into words. Friends, I got to the point where I didn’t even want to hold my baby. All the crying, all the diapers, feeding, pumping, then pumping and feeding. I was wearing thin with each passing day. What was wrong with me? Why do I not want to help nurture this beautiful baby boy? I was so in love while we were in the hospital, so what changed? To be honest, I have no clear answer for you. All I knew was that something changed and something quickly needed to be done about it.
Thinking back about it now it is so crazy how silently and quickly this depression crept up on me. I never, ever, in my life would have thought I would be one of its victims. But darkness does not care who it terrorizes. And that, my friends, is why I am begging you to understand the signs of postpartum depression. If it were not for my husband, mother, mentor, and my doctor being there for me I have no idea what the end result of this terrible season would have been.
Recognizing the signs postpartum depression:
- If your baby blues do not go away.
- Sadness and guilt consume your thoughts.
- You lose interest in things you thought you enjoy.
- You have trouble making decisions.
- You worry you won’t make a good mom.
- Your sleep patterns have changed. (which, DUH! but if you find yourself feeling restless even when baby is resting or find yourself sleeping all the time, that is when a red flag should go up.)
- You’ve had big, stressful changes in your life. (another one where I say, uh DUH! A brand new baby. But think further than that. A fight with your spouse, a death in the family, a loss of income, all of these can worsen your postpartum depression)
- You think about harming yourself.
- Other signs and symptoms may include, withdraw from family and friends, severe mood swings, or difficulty bonding with your baby.
What are the statistics of postpartum depression?
According to A Health Blog, 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression, while 50% of individuals with PPD goes undetected. Suicide accounts for 20% of postpartum deaths and is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women. Symptoms can appear at any time during pregnancy or within the first 12 months after giving birth and women who have one episode of postpartum depression have a 50% chance of experiencing it again with a second pregnancy.
Why does postpartum depression happen and what should I do?
The reasons for PPD can range from a dramatic drop in hormones, a drop in hormones produced by your thyroid gland, emotional issues, sleep deprivation, a struggle with self-identity or a feeling that you have lost control. Whatever your reason is, I urge you to get help. Believe me when I say I have been there, at the bottom of the hole feeling like there is no way you will ever get to the top. Waking up every day, wondering what terror the day will bring you. But push through the darkness, the muck, and get some help. There is a new baby that needs their mama. There are a husband and father that needs his spouse. There is someone, anyone, out there that needs you. I am thankful I pushed through my darkness so I can write this. So I can make a difference. So I can let you know that you are not alone in this fight.