“Isn’t it wonderful?”
“It’s love at first sight”
“Becoming a mom is the best thing in the world”
Perhaps not so much. It might have started as a tiny feeling that something wasn’t right. Maybe you’ve been having trouble sleeping – you stay awake thinking about all the ways harm could come to your baby. Maybe you’re flying off the handle at your spouse for the smallest infraction. Maybe the smallest tasks seem incredibly overwhelming. You might look at your baby and feel nothing. You might think your family would be better off without you.
What I want you to know is that you are not alone. This is not your fault. You do not have to feel this way forever.
Perinatal depression can affect women both during pregnancy and after giving birth. More than 1 in 7 women report experiencing depression and/or anxiety after having a baby. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear for several months after Baby’s arrival. Common signs of perinatal depression include persistent sadness, feeling overwhelmed, difficulty bonding with your baby, anger and irritability, changes in appetite and sleep habits, and intrusive, scary thoughts.
Ok, so I think I have depression. What now?
Reach out. Speak to your healthcare provider. Talk to people you trust. Accept help from supportive friends and family. Make sure you get the help you need. Many healthcare providers do not think to check in with women around maternal mental health, and some go so far as to minimize women’s concerns. If you are not getting the support you need, keep going. It could save your life.
Seeing a therapist for individual counselling can provide you with support, and help you learn new skills to manage negative thought cycles. Many women also find relief in social support. Attending a therapy group can provide not only the professional help needed to address your concerns, but also a circle of other women who get it, who are there with you in this fight. Some women opt to take medication for a short period of time, providing them the boost they need to make it through the day.
Consider what kind of support will work best for you, and please, reach out.
Mama, you are a warrior, and you will conquer this!
This post was originally posted over at MindBodyFamilies