April 20, 2016

How to Cope with Postpartum Depression

Written by Rachel Eddins

Woman suffering from postpartum depression

Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and having a mood disorder can make a hard job feel impossible.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Having a baby is one of the most important events in one’s life. However, feelings of sadness and even depression often accompany childbirth for many women.

Postpartum affects 15% of new moms and is a form of depression, more serious than the “baby blues.” The baby blues happen within a few days after birth, typically last for just a few weeks and are mild. Generally, the “baby blues” goes away after a few weeks.

Postpartum can begin anytime with the first year, symptoms are more intense and last longer. New moms can also experience increased anxiety or obsessive / compulsive symptoms. Risk factors include previous or family history of depression, stressful life events, a poor relationship with a partner and weak social support.

According to Mental Health America of Greater Houston, it occurs in 1 out in 8 women after having a baby.

Signs of Postpartum Depression:

  • A lack of interest in your baby
  • Lack of concern for self
  • Negative feelings towards your baby
  • Changes in appetite/sleep (not being able to sleep when baby sleeps)
  • Lethargy, loss of pleasure, worrying about hurting your baby
  • Crying for no reason
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms Can Include:

  • Thoughts “running” in your mind
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Feeling you have to be on the run
  • Keeping busy
  • Feeling on edge
  • Pacing back and forth

Postpartum Psychosis:

Postpartum psychosis is a very serious and rare condition. Symptoms include: feeling cut off from your baby, seeing things that aren’t there, frantic energy, confusion, memory loss, thoughts of suicide or harm to the baby combined with feelings that you need to act on these thoughts.

If you or someone you know is in crisis now or having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or call 911.

Risk factors include a history or family history of bipolar disorder.

How to Cope with Postpartum Depression

  • Talk about your feelings. Share openly with your partner, other mothers, friends and relatives.
  • Get help with taking care of the baby. Don’t try to manage everything on your own. You’re not expected to!
  • Get as much sleep or rest as you can. Sleep when your baby sleeps, don’t try to get things done. Talk to a therapist or your doctor if you can’t sleep even when you want to.
  • Take care of yourself. Daily moderate exercise may seem overwhelming, but there are huge benefits. Go for a walk, drink lots of water, and eat healthfully.
  • Let go of unimportant tasks. Be realistic about what you can really do while taking care of a new baby. Manage your expectations of yourself.
  • Schedule “me” time. Carve out some time for yourself as often as possible and ask for help with your baby. Do not use this time to run errands, do chores, or otherwise catch up on stuff that needs doing. You’ll be much better able to tend to everyone else’s needs if you’ve tended to your own.
  • Keep a journal. If it works for you, it can be a great way to organize thoughts, vent, and sort through your feelings.
  • Tell others what you need/want. It will wear you out to try living up to what you think others expect of you. Your family and friends are not psychic…be specific about what you need from them (a 30-minute walk, to put away the dishes, etc).
  • Know your worth. Regardless of your role, know that you are a valuable, important, interesting, vibrant human being. It’s okay if you aren’t earning a paycheck, or if you aren’t home all day with your kids.

Seek Help for Postpartum Depression

If you are having symptoms of postpartum depression, you are not alone.

Generally, symptoms don’t resolve on their own. Talk therapy is the first method to try and if it doesn’t resolve in 8-12 weeks, medications may be added. A therapist in Houston can help you find ways of coping with difficulties. A support group can also be therapeutic.

24-Hour Hotlines:

Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS

Crisis Intervention, Houston: 713-HOTLINE | 713-526-8088 (Spanish)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Mothers Supporting Mothers Therapy Group

A group can be a powerful way to receive support, strategies to cope, connection and knowing that you are not alone. Contact us to learn more about our mothers support group.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

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