What Can I Do To Help Her With Postpartum Depression
Of course, while scientists are at work trying to understand PPD for the future, families must deal with its very real consequences today. Here are some tips for helping a woman with postpartum depression:
Find support. Start with pactforthecure.com/resources.
Read up. Get educated on PPD.
Work as a team. Understand that postpartum depression is no ones fault.
Invalidate. Dont say things like, You need to get over it.
Shameor guilther. Dont say things like, Stop feeling sorry for yourself or Whats the matter with you?
Compare. Dont talk about how well other new moms are doing in comparison to her.
The UNC Center for Womens Mood Disorders can help your family make it through postpartum depression. If you need help, call 974-5217 and choose option No. 3, or email .
How Is Postpartum Depression Treated
The common types of treatment for postpartum depression are:
- Therapy. During therapy, you talk to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn strategies to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.
Medicine. There are different types of medicines for postpartum depression. All of them must be prescribed by your doctor or nurse. The most common type is antidepressants. Antidepressants can help relieve symptoms of depression and some can be taken while you’re breastfeeding. Antidepressants may take several weeks to start working.
The Food and Drug Administration has also approved a medicine called brexanolone to treat postpartum depression in adult women. Brexanolone is given by a doctor or nurse through an IV for 2½ days . Because of the risk of side effects, this medicine can only be given in a clinic or office while you are under the care of a doctor or nurse. Brexanolone may not be safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Another type of medicine called esketamine can treat depression and is given as a nasal spray in a doctor’s office or clinic. Esketamine can hurt an unborn baby. You should not take esketamine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Electroconvulsive therapy . This can be used in extreme cases to treat postpartum depression.
These treatments can be used alone or together. Talk with your doctor or nurse about the benefits and risks of taking medicine to treat depression when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Tip : Lean On Others For Help And Support
Human beings are social. Positive social contact relieves stress faster and more efficiently than any other means of stress reduction. Historically and from an evolutionary perspective, new mothers received help from those around them when caring for themselves and their infants after childbirth. In todays world, new mothers often find themselves alone, exhausted and lonely for supportive adult contact. Here are some ideas for connecting to others:
Make your relationships a priority. When youre feeling depressed and vulnerable, its more important than ever to stay connected to family and friendseven if youd rather be alone. Isolating yourself will only make your situation feel even bleaker, so make your adult relationships a priority. Let your loved ones know what you need and how youd like to be supported.
Dont keep your feelings to yourself. In addition to the practical help your friends and family can provide, they can also serve as a much-needed emotional outlet. Share what youre experiencingthe good, the bad, and the uglywith at least one other person, preferably face to face. It doesnt matter who you talk to, so long as that person is willing to listen without judgment and offer reassurance and support.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder
How Does It Differ From Postpartum Depression
Postpartum anxiety doesnt attract as much attentionfrom society or by doctors. Unlike postpartum depression, its not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the gold standard of reference for mental health professionals. We dont do as good a job at screening new mothers for anxiety disorders, says Dr. Homitsky, who finds that its more common in her clinic than postpartum depression.
In postpartum depression, mothers may feel detached and disconnected from their new babies. In postpartum anxiety, theyre consumed by thoughts of their babies. There also can be a fair amount of overlap between the two conditions, says Dr. Homitsky. You can feel sad, overwhelmed, and disinterested in the baby one minute, and consumed and excessively worried the next.
Helping A New Mother With Postpartum Depression
If your loved one is experiencing postpartum depression, the best thing you can do is to offer support. Give her a break from childcare duties, provide a listening ear, and be patient and understanding.
You also need to take care of yourself. Dealing with the needs of a new baby is hard for the partner as well as the mother. And if your significant other is depressed, you are dealing with two major stressors.
Recommended Reading: How Severe Is My Anxiety
If Shes Not Wanting Help Or To Admit There Is A Problem
It may be hard for a new mother to admit that shes going through a postpartum depression. With an emphasis on the joys and bliss of motherhood, our society doesnt make it easy for mothers who dont live up to the motherhood myth. New mothers will often put a lot of effort into convincing the world that they are doing fine, when, in fact, they are falling apart on the inside.
Im not getting any information. Im supposed to be a mind reader. So, what does she need right now? I make my best guess and its almost always wrong.
Here are some of the reasons why a new mom might not recognize that she is suffering from postpartum depression:
As someone close to her, you may be able to spot the signs, even if she appears to be doing well to the rest of the world.
It is important that she gets help. Left untreated, postpartum depression can get much worse.
The ongoing stress can cause marital breakdown and it also places her partner more at risk to suffer from postpartum depression. Untreated postpartum depression can have lasting effects on the whole family.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from postpartum depression, but she is reluctant to have a conversation about the topic, there are things that you can do:
Here are some tips on how to encourage her to honestly look at her feelings and to consider how she is coping:
Hang Out With Her Older Child
If this is a second baby, moms dont get the same opportunity to rest or get things done when the baby naps as they perhaps did with their first baby so offering to take her older one can be a big help. If you have a similar age child, frame it as helping you out too to have a playmate for your child, as this can help lessen her possible mom guilt.
Recommended Reading: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
Who Gets Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can affect any woman but some may be more at risk for developing it. Women who have had any kind of depression in the past or who have a family history of depression are more likely to get postpartum depression.
Other things that might increase the chance of postpartum depression include serious stress during the pregnancy, medical problems during the pregnancy or after birth, and lack of support at home.
Could It Be Postpartum Ocd
The specific kind of anxiety that Lauren was experiencing was postpartum OCD. The condition affects around 6% of mothers and can be associated with thoughts of hurting the baby, Dr. Homitsky says. Its not uncommon for women to develop obsessive and anxious thoughts that get stuck in their heads, she says. Mothers typically find the thoughts, called ego-dystonic thoughts, disturbing and unacceptable, she says. For instance, a mother could persist in having might be of drowning her baby in the bathtub, although she has no intention of doing so and she feels anxious to even give the baby a bath, Dr. Homitsky says.
Women have all sorts of thoughts in the context of a new child, says Michael OHara, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa and a specialist in postpartum depression. Some of them can be scary, but it is very, very uncommon for a woman to act on these thoughts.
Much less common than postpartum anxiety is a condition known as postpartum psychosis, which is characterized by ego-syntonic thoughts, says Dr. Homitsky. In this condition, the mother may have thoughts of hurting her baby and the thoughts are not upsetting to her, she says. If you speak with a mother who is psychotic, she may say she hears voices telling her to hurt her child. Only about 1 in 1,000 women experience postpartum psychosis.
Read Also: Can You Have Anxiety While Sleeping
Offering Postpartum Depression Help
Whether you are a husband, a friend, or a family member, everyone can help someone with postpartum depression in some way. Even the small things count. So, figure out what you can do for your loved one to help them during this difficult time. From babysitting for an hour while mom takes a nap to sending a text reminding her that you love her, it all makes a difference.
At Highland Springs Specialty Clinic, we offer leading postpartum depression treatment for mothers in Utah. Our therapists use an integrated approach including both medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. Both prescribers and therapists work with the patient to create a plan that is unique to the individual. If you know someone who needs treatment, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Is It Postpartum Depression Or Postpartum Anxiety Whats The Difference
Meet Christine. She is a married 30-year-old woman who just had her first baby about 3 weeks ago. While the pregnancy went smoothly, the experience of labor and delivery was difficult. After nearly 20 hours of labor, Christine had an emergency caesarean section. The baby was healthy, but he had difficulty breastfeeding. Christine was worried that she was not producing enough milk. Her baby lost more than 10% of his weight during the first week, and Christine was forced to supplement with formula.
Christine went to see her obstetrician two weeks after delivery because she was worried that her C-section incision site was infected. Her obstetrician reassured her that there were no signs of infection but was concerned because Christine was not her usual self. She was tearful and reported that she was having problems falling asleep, fearful that something might happen to her baby. Christines obstetrician set up an appointment for Christine to meet with the OB social worker the following week.
Christine is not an actual patient but an amalgam of the postpartum women we see at our clinic. During the postpartum period, there is a confluence of many significant events: recuperation from labor and delivery, sleep-deprivation, breastfeeding, negotiating the transition to parenthood. During the first few weeks, many new parents may recognize that things are not going well but may not be able to distinguish what is normal and what is a problem.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
Don’t Miss: How To Stop Chronic Anxiety
Should You Take Medications When Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding provides many benefits to the baby: its the perfect nutrition, it helps build a babys immune system, it , and it provides comfort and security. Breastfeeding also provides benefits for the mother: it releases prolactin and oxytocin , which help a mother bond with her baby and provide a sense of relaxation. When considering whether to start a medication, it is important to be aware that all psychiatric medications are excreted into the breast milk. Your doctor can help you think through the risks and benefits of medications based on the severity of your illness, medication preference, and previous response, as well as factors unique to your baby, such as medical illness or prematurity.
Establish A Rhythm And Slow Things Down
Create a routine for your family so that you all know what to expect from your days this will reduce the number of decisions you have to make, the number of unexpected issues that arise, and the amount of transitions your children have to navigate . And slow things down the kids will be fine if lunch is two minutes late. They might not be happy about it, but just see it as a great opportunity for them to learn how to be patient and tolerate a little discomfort.
Those of us who are highly sensitive parents have so many wonderful strengths, but were also more susceptible to anxiety and depression especially if we arent practicing good self-care and honoring our own needs and limits.
If you need some extra support, check out Jessies course designed specifically for highly sensitive mothers: The Aligned Mama, an 8-week course with private coaching to help you find your balance and enjoy motherhood again.
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better While Seeing A Doctor For Postpartum Depression
Here are some ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a health care professional:
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Dont try to do too much or to do everything by yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
- Talk with other mothers so that you can learn from their experiences.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor or nurse about groups in your area.
- Dont make any major life changes right after giving birth. More major life changes in addition to a new baby can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cant be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
It can also help to have a partner, a friend, or another caregiver who can help take care of the baby while you are depressed. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
Let Her Know She Is Not Alone
Just letting her know you are right there with her and will give her whatever support she needs will be a huge comfort. Next do a little research on her behalf and send her links to websites that talk about how common it is to for new moms to experience postpartum anxiety and/or depression .
As well as being a psychologist in private practice offering counseling to moms, I am the director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of IL. Our website www.PPDil.org provides information and email and phone support from volunteers so if you didnt go through a postpartum mood disorder yourself and feel out of your depth, giving her the information of people who have been through it themselves and know how to help can be very useful.
The PPD Alliance of IL serves Illinois families but Postpartum Support International www.postpartum.net lists similar resources to ours across most of the states. Of course we dont turn anyone away and will offer support to all women who contact us and then link you up with your own state to find local support groups and professionals.
Also Check: Can You Use An Inhaler For Anxiety