- As a little girl, I used to fantasize about growing up, getting married and becoming a mother. When I was little, I used to name all of my babies and even went as far as waking up in the middle of the night to nurse some of them in the fourth grade! Now granted, I may be a little more neurotic than most, I know that I am not the only one who, upon becoming pregnant for the first time, was devastated and disappointed to find out that not every part of the gift of life is beautiful! The morning sickness does NOT start and end in the morning! Gaining weight and looking cute in pregnancy clothes only seems to happen at the same time for other woman, and despite having a planned and healthy pregnancy, overwhelming feelings of fear, anxiety, and guilt seemed to overshadow all else. But no worries, pregnancy only lasts 9 months!.... After that, all childhood fantasies would come to light so I could resume this wonderful game of House right?! WRONG! Unfortunately many people, including myself, realized that after 9 months you are left to care for this incredibly vulnerable, beautiful….. stranger! And on top of not getting that immediate Euphoric feeling that lots of mothers gush about, I had to deal with a debilitating back injury, which loved to relapse immediately after childbirth. Then let’s not forget those certain, “supportive” family members that everyone seems to have. You know, the ones that tell you to "snap out of it! A wife that isn’t working should make sure that supper is on the table when her husband gets home!" or "Your baby can sense it, if you are not feeling attached to them right away so you are doing psychological damage!" Or one of my favorites, " If you would just exercise more you would feel so much better", yadda yadda yadda….
Well, over a year after my third and last child, (ensured by a prolapsed bladder at the age of 28) I was finally able to “snap out of it”. And by which I mean, function normally with the help of a Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Family Doctor, Antidepressants and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from a Counsellor.
Now we are an educated society, and there are a lot of resources out there. And thanks to programs like, 16 And Pregnant, and Teen Mom, even the most naïve of mothers-to-be are able to see that having a child can require huge personal and financial sacrifices. But what I want to know is- where the show that depicts the mother’s that ends up lying in her bed for all day because she is utterly non-functioning?! I suppose nobody would want to watch that program. None the less, it could have definitely helped me lift a bit of that heavy guilt that accompanied my not-so-rare post partum depression. Actually, to my surprise, my situation was not as rare and thought:
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, while approximately 80% of woman will experience the “Baby Blues” up to 20% of woman will experience a degree of postpartum depression after a pregnancy. It is also assumed that the numbers are even higher due to a lack of reporting. The Symptoms of the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression can be very similar, but the main difference is the length and severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms last longer than two weeks (up to 2 years!) or are interfering with you day to day activities, you should talk to a qualified Health Care Professional to obtain an actual diagnosis and discuss treatment options. Symptoms of Postpartum Include:
*Feeling restless, irritable, anxious or panic stricken.
*Having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep
*Less energy and motivation to do things
*Sleeping more than you usually do
*Loss of Appetite
*Feeling worthless, hopeless or excessive guilt
- *Obsessive thoughts
*Feelings of sadness
*Loss of interest or pleasure in previous hobbies or passions
*Feeling like life isn’t worth living
*Thoughts about hurting yourself or death
*Excessive worrying about harm coming to your baby either by yourself or other means.
Fortunately, as a society, we are making progress to understanding and removing the stigma associated with Postpartum. But to obliterate it, we need to shine light on it to proactively support and treat those who are suffering. Monsters can only hide in the dark, so if you have found yourself feeling isolated and dealing with the symptoms stated above- own them. Know, that you are one of millions going fighting through the same, "not-so-rare" illness, called Depression. So then you can take the first steps to treating it.
There are many different approaches one may take with Depression. Among the most common; antidepressants, support groups, and psychotherapy/Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I believe that there is no one answer or solution, especially for acute cases. But a multi-faceted approach can speed up the recovery process and aid in sustainability. If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from postpartum depression, there is help and resources out there. Seek out a health care professional to discuss more options.
Great resources include literature by Dr David. D. Burns, and Lousie Hay. I have included a printable to goes with the philosophies of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is based on the work and literature by Dr. David. D. Burns. M.D