Mental Health

Postpartum Depression

Having a baby is supposed to be an amazing experience, with a few tough times here and there.  Unfortunately, many new moms suffer with postpartum depression, or otherwise known as “baby blues”. Postpartum depression affects 8-12% of mothers. Postpartum depression is defined as “depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue.” Postpartum depression can get so bad to the point where the mother does not want her child, or even worse, abuses her child. I personally have not suffered with PPD myself, because I don’t have any kids. But when talking to my aunt about ideas for my blog, she offered to share her story…

My aunt’s story

A couple weeks after having my daughter, I started crying uncontrollably. No reason for crying and no way to stop it.  I remember being in Swiss Chalet getting a take-out order and thinking that they better give me my order soon because I was starting to cry.  I also remember standing there and asking myself “what the hell is wrong with you?” I had heard of PPD (postpartum depression) but didn’t know what the signs were.  No one in my family had ever had it.

I went like this for a few more days and then I knew I had to do something because I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I made an appointment with my doctor and she said I had PPD.  She said that there was a medication she would put me on called Paxil.  It would take a few weeks to start working.  I started taking it that day and by 8 the next morning I was back at the doctors because there was no way I was going to be okay for the 3 weeks it took to start working.  She put me on Lorazepam (a very low dose of the anti-anxiety medication) and also gave me a hotline number to call if I ever felt things getting out of control.

When you are with a partner who can try to understand what you are going through, that is an amazing help. They don’t have to understand it all but know that you need them and they will be there for you.  When they don’t understand and start telling co-works that your wife has gone “nuts” that makes it worse. My husband did take a week off of work to help me through this and did the best he could.  Support plays a huge role in PPD.

I called the hotline and this wonderful woman walked through mental exercises with me to try and calm my constantly running brain.  She also taught me breathing exercises to help calm my anxiety. The same group sent a nurse to my house to see how things were.  She asked a bunch of questions and took a look around the house and she could see that my daughter was in no danger at all and that my husband and I would be very capable of taking very good care of my daughter.  I have heard of stories where Moms want to do great harm to their baby.  I was extremely fortunate that I was not like this at all.

After my husband went back to work, I stayed with my Mom for a week and by then I was 200% better.  I thought back to how I had felt about my daughter earlier and couldn’t believe it.

With the help of medication and a support group, I was able to get through the weeks before medication started to work.  To this day, I am still forever thankful for everyone who had a hand in this.  It was one of the saddest times in my life but I can now look back and say it is one of the happiest times in my life.

Signs/symptoms of PPD

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Check out the website below to find out more information about signs, symptoms, causes, risk factors, how it affects the baby, problems with attachment, self-help, professional treatment, and how to help someone dealing with PPD.

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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