According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, “postpartum depression is a depression that can range from mild to suicidal and can occur anytime after delivery up to one year later.” The initial onset begins in the first 4 weeks after delivery. Common symptoms include: agitation and irritability, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, feeling withdrawn, socially isolated or unconnected, negative thoughts toward the baby and thoughts of death or suicide. The underlying cause of postpartum depression is changes in hormone levels which is normally followed by mood changes and typical for the mother following the birth of a child. There is also the “postpartum blues” which is less severe than postpartum depression as it has similar symptoms but is short lived. Treatment involves medication, therapy or a combination of both. There is no single method of prevention but certain factors can help like having a support system. The best thing to do if you feel that you have this disorder is to get early detection and seek help. Don’t be ashamed or deny these symptoms if you are experiencing them because it is the smartest thing you can do for yourself, your newborn and your family. I know from experience so I can attest to the benefits of counseling as treatment for postpartum depression.
I believe I began feelings of depression while in the hospital the day after my daughter was born. I was fine one minute but then I was a “basket case” the next. I would cry just looking at my daughter. I felt like an emotional wreck and I wanted it to just stop so I could go on with my new and exciting life as a mother. I didn’t realize I was in for a very bumpy ride as my depression lasted up to a year after my daughter was born. It was extremely difficult as I felt that I had no control over my feelings and thoughts. Simultaneously, I was sad, happy, afraid, and angry. One thing I did know was that I didn’t want to harm my child. I think I was moreso severely paranoid that I would do something wrong that would lead to her being harmed. Becoming a mother for the first time is scary because you have this little person who cannot talk that totally depends on you for everything. I immediately thought that maybe I was just having a small bout with the “baby blues” but my symptoms seemed to last longer than I believed was capable. I just talked to my husband, some of my family members and friends about it which helped slightly but it wasn’t until my daughter was 8 or 9 months old that I finally decided that I needed to seek some counseling which was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. It is a shame that going to counseling is so taboo in our society because I think that many people will benefit greatly from it whether they are depressed or not. It is very therapeutic as it opened the door for a lot of other issues to be revealed and I was forced to face them. A breakthrough occurred as a result of my counseling sessions. I began to see things differently and realized that the solution was in me all along. I did not need any medication to relieve myself of this depression which so abruptly took over my body and mind. I personally do not believe in medication for depression and many other illnesses and disorders. I think that a holistic approach is more suiting as medications put you at risk for additional problems such as dependency and adverse effects which will in turn lead to further illnesses. This defeats the whole purpose in seeking help in my opinion so I hope that this information was helpful for those who were misinformed or knew nothing about postpartum depression because we need to increase awareness as many women suffer from this disorder and do not seek the proper attention for it as they either deny it or simply don’t know that it is something common which can also be treated.