May is Mental Health Awareness Month and also when we take time to celebrate our mothers.
For those with children, those expecting, those trying, and those on the various stages of their women’s health journey, we are honored and privileged to serve you as your trusted OB/GYN in Logan, Utah.
We also understand the stigma and fear that so many women face when it comes to maternal mental health. We’re here to support and remind you that you are not alone and offer help and support when you need it most.
So in light of Mental Health Month, let’s learn more about maternal mental health and what those struggling can do to connect with community, support, love, and healing.
Maternal Mental Health Diagnosis And Treatment
It’s common for women to experience “baby blues” after giving birth. This typically includes feeling tired, weepy, stressed, anxious, sad, or lonely for a brief time.
However, postpartum depression is a common, significantly more serious condition that affects around 1 in 7 women. For over half of women diagnosed with PPD, it is their first time dealing with depression. And about half of women later diagnosed with PPD may have started experiencing symptoms during pregnancy. Postpartum psychosis, a condition involving psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusion, is a separate, very rare disorder.
So how can you tell the difference between baby blues and PPD? Here are some signs to look for.
First, PPD doesn’t go away on its own and persists for days or months after giving birth if left untreated. PPD makes it extremely difficult to make it through the day and can affect a woman’s ability to care for her baby.
Women with PPD may experience the following:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- A racing mind or thoughts that scare them
- A loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, including sex and intimacy
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Uncontrollable sadness or crying
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and not being a good mother
- Significant changes in eating habits
- Mood swings—including excessive anger, agitation, or irritability
- Fear or distrust of oneself being left alone with the baby
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively
- Cognitive difficulties, like concentrating, memory, or decision making
- Feeling numb or disconnected from the baby or other loved ones
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby
PPD can affect women of any circumstance, age, ethnicity, or any other diversifying factor. Risk factors for PPD can include changing hormone levels after childbirth, stress involved with caring for a newborn, an infant who is difficult to comfort or has special needs or feeding or sleeping issues, first time motherhood, outside emotional stresses in one’s personal life, isolation or lack of support, financial or employment problems, previous depression or anxiety, and family history of mental illness or depression.
There are many effective treatment options for PPD, including psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Your healthcare provider can also help you develop skills to manage and cope with PPD.
What To Do If You Or A Loved One Is Suffering
First, remember not to face PPD alone. Talk openly about your feelings with a loved one, and seek help from your doctor. It can also help to join a support group for mothers and connect with support in your personal circles to help care for both you and your child.
Remember that postpartum depression is not your fault. It is a very real, very treatable psychological disorder. There is hope ahead. Early detection and treatment can make a significant difference. Don’t suffer alone—get help today.