Anyone who has suffered from any form of postpartum depression knows that it is nothing to be taken lightly. One in 8 suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD), according to Postpartum International, and dads experience it too.
Knowing that you are not alone, and that your feelings are not your fault, are important things to remember when trying to find a way to tackle your pain. Many mothers go through what you are experiencing now and want to help you make it through. It is OK to be honest about your feelings and seek help.
Here are some suggestions to help you find support and gain information on your journey. Many are simple and will only be helpful in mild cases. These ideas are not intended to be of use in very serious cases of depression or to replace the assistance of a trained therapist.
If you are in need of serious and immediate help please reach out to your health care provider, a close friend or family member, or to a group like Postpartum Support International right away. This national non-profit specializes in providing information, help and support for moms suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Their warmline is 1-800-944-4773.
IDEAS TO EASE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Connect with Others: Support groups can help you to feel more connected, but can also result in friendships that go beyond meeting times. Your life has changed and you will need to change and expand your friendships as well. Find support and resources in the Postpartum Depression forum on Mothering.com and look for local mom groups in your area, such as the Holistic Moms Network and La Leche League. If you cannot find a local group consider spending time at local parks or rec centers to meet other parents. Even just getting out of the house to run errands can ease the feeling of being alone.
Take time for yourself: It can seem impossible to find time to yourself when you have a new baby but try to arrange a bit of alone time now and then. Many moms forget how important this is or feel guilty wanting “me time.” Keeping yourself sane and balanced is vital to being a healthy parent. If time to yourself is scarce, remember that even a 15-minute break in another room can be refreshing. Ask a family member to watch over baby for a bit of time every day, or take advantage of naps to unwind.
Talk to a therapist: A couple of sessions might make all the difference in the world. Don’t be afraid to reach out–most health insurance plans will cover these sessions. If you don’t have insurance call your county for help paying for a therapist.
Call for help: Add the phone number for a good parent stress line to your cell phone contact list and/or post it near your landline. If you find yourself experiencing despair or intense anger, call. The people that answer these lines are familiar with what you’re going through and they can help. The Postpartum Support International Warmline is 1-800-944-4773.
Self-Diagnosis. A new Apple app, Postnatal Depression Test, is based on the 10-question Edinburth Postnatal Depression (EPDS) that has proven to be an effective screening tool for perinatal depression. While it’s not meant to diagnose or treat medical conditions or to replace medical help, it can be useful for initial self-diagnosis. You can also take the test online.
Use aromatherapy: To raise your spirits, try combinations of ylang ylang, clary sage, geranium, and rose essential oils in an aromatherapy diffuser, or added to a hot bath. Use neroli essential oil as a “perfume.”
Try homeopathy: Ignatia and natrum muriatricum are good for weepiness and moodiness. Kail carbonicum is good for irritability and fatigue. Find out more from Homeopathy for Childbirth.
Incorporate yoga and meditation: You might be surprised to find out how much a little exercise or meditation can help. Try this easy mediation: Breathing in I calm myself; breathing out I smile. Check out Family Workout Tips and Homemade Play for quick, easy at-home exercise ideas.
Most importantly, don’t suffer alone. Look for help however you feel most comfortable.
POSTPARTUM DANGER SIGNS
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please get help right away.
Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting out of bed.
Frequent wakefulness due to vivid, frightening dreams.
Loss of interest in food or extreme food cravings for high carbohydrate or high caffeine snacks
Unusual weight loss of gain.
Sustained interest in alcoholic beverages, sedatives or other medication.
Feeling sluggish, slowed down, fidgety or agitated.
Feeling exhausted and unable to complete routine tasks.
Having accidents related to fatigue or inattention.
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, organizing or making choices.
Lack of interest in or over concern for the baby.
Loss of interest in or difficulty planning and implementing hobbies and pastimes that you once loved.
Planning or attempting suicide or injury to oneself, the baby or other children.
Feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, panic.
Extreme mood swings.
Thoughts or fantasies of death or of hurting oneself or the children.
Reach out to a friend or call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4773.
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She founded Mothering.com in 1995 and was its editor-in chief until 2012. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.