Post Partum Depression: What It Is And How It Makes You Feel

15 Jul

Sadly, post-partum depression is very real and very scary for those who have never experienced it. It’s a rollercoaster ride. One day you can function fine and the next you’re so low that you can’t imagine opening your eyes much less climbing out of bed to care for your little one.

If you’re suffering from post-partum depression, you’re not alone. Nearly 13% of pregnant women and new mothers suffer from depression. I myself do. The best thing that you can do is to get yourself help, whether that’s from a qualified psychologist or from medications to aid with the chemical imbalance that causes post-partum depression. If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about a medicine that won’t affect your supply or the baby.

Signs and symptoms to watch for include:

  • Feeling restless or moody
  • Feeling sad, hopeless and overwhelmed
  • Crying a lot
  • Having no energy or motivation
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Having trouble focusing or making decisions
  • Having memory problems
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don’t go away

What Causes Depression?

Some of the most common causes are stressful life events such as abuse, death of a family member or friend, loss of a child, caring for an ill or aging family member, a difficult pregnancy and poverty. Also, depression can be connected with the hormonal changes a woman undergoes during and after pregnancy. These changes directly affect the part of the brain that controls your moods and emotions. It’s why some women are so emotional while pregnant.

I was all over the place myself. The last three months of my pregnancy, I slept no more than 10 hours a week and would constantly fall asleep during the day in the oddest places. I even fell asleep sitting in a chair in the middle of a store once or twice. I was so exhausted the day of my baby shower from the lack of sleep and the cold I was suffering because of it that I got into a fender bender and got a ticket. I made it to the shower, but I was so out of it that I don’t remember much of anything.

And after my son was born, I had this feeling of immense guilt. I choose an epidural because I was afraid of the pain despite months of saying I wouldn’t do it. I’m almost certain that the combination of that epidural with the medicine they had me on for preclampsia dropped my blood pressure through the floor and they were forced to deliver via emergency c-section.

I was so out of it from all of the meds that I couldn’t hold my son alone until over 24 hours after he was born. On top of that, I was so out of it that I couldn’t think to get help regarding breastfeeding, thus I had a very hard time with my supply. It didn’t help at all that my little boy spent his first three days of life in the NICU due to breathing problems. All of this kills me everyday because I feel like if I’d just stuck it out, none of that would have happened. Which brings me to the best thing you can do to help with depression.

It’s important to realize that it’s not your fault. Despite the guilt, I know in my heart that I couldn’t have known what would happen and am so grateful to my wonderful obstetricians as well as the doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix because they more than likely saved mine and my son’s lives. Without them, God only knows what would have happened.

What To Do About It

Of course, always get help from your primary care provider or a qualified psychologist. But here are some ways you can keep your spirits up:

  • Smile at your little one and play games like peek-a-boo.
  • Watch funny tv shows or movies. Laughter will do wonders to perk you up.
  • Get out of the house. Even if you don’t have money to go to the zoo or the museum, there’s lots of free things to do in your community. The park for instance.
  • Get exercise. You don’t have to have a gym membership to walk. Take baby and stroller to the mall and walk around, preferably with a friend or family member. Also, if you live in an apartment complex that has a pool, you can take your little one out for a morning swim or have someone watch him/her and do some laps yourself.
  • Try new things. I’ve recently started experimenting with new food and baking recipes. It’s given me something productive to unleash my energy on.
  • Don’t overindulge. Whether that means tightening the belt on your finances or your caloric intake, less is more. Don’t eat just because you’re bored or sad. Eat as necessary to feed your little one if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Buy yourself something new once in a while. You can find some great bargains out there. Whether it’s bubble bath or a new dress to compliment your new figure, don’t be afraid to buy yourself something nice.
  • Keep a list of things to do nearby. Not only will it motivate you to have things to keep yourself busy, it will give you pride to know that you’ve accomplished something.
  • Take a shower. You’d be surprised how much better you feel once you’re clean and smelling nice.
  • Try a new hairstyle. It might be just what you need to help you see yourself in a new light.
  • Get a mani-pedi. A little pampering never hurt and it will definitely help with the stress.
  • Get a massage. Another great stress relief.
  • Talk to a friend about your stresses. Some people just need to talk to someone and it’s a great alternative if you don’t have the money for counseling.

Remember, you’re not alone. GET HELP! So many of us are right there with you. Do what’s best for your family and your new joy…call your doctor today and set up an appointment for a physical. They’ll check your hormone levels and be able to prescribe you an appropriate medicine to help you on the road to recovery. Hang in there!

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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Post-Partum


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