I did a talk recently about postpartum depression and used a really resource to help answer some questions. Katherine Stone’s blog postpartumprogress.com is a tremendous resource for all things related to mental health and pregnancy. Several members of the audience I spoke to had some great questions. I thought I’d share some of these topics with you in case you had similar concerns.
One question was about telling the difference between the common “baby blues” and true postpartum depression. This distinction is so important to make at the beginning. The more aware you are of the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, the better you can determine whether you need to get help.
Here’s a blog post from postpartumprogress.com that goes into such great detail. The big takeaway for this: any symptom or problem that can’t be alleviated or seems to last a long time (at least two weeks straight, most of the time) is reason for concern. Read the lists and you can compare how much more severe and pervassive the postpartum depression symptoms are.
Other questions were raised about a number of mental health problems related to pregnancy that are NOT postpartum depression. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression during pregnancy, and anxiety are problems some moms have but don’t hear much about.
Since their symptoms occur during pregnancy or don’t involve depression, these moms may have no idea what to do or believe anyone can help them. Thankfully, postpartumprogress also covers all of these different disorders here on this page. Mental health symptoms can occur during or after pregnancy, and can include depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and other disorders.
In mild cases, formal treatment may not be needed. Or, only a brief course of treatment may be necessary if the symptoms are caught early. But no matter how mild the symptoms, awareness is a huge part of identifying the problem and recovering. If you are watchful of yourself and keep a good support system around you, any symptoms you experience will likely be handled pretty well.
There is absolutely no need to suffer for years like I did. I didn’t tell anyone for nearly 2 1/2 years. That’s also why I took
medication for two years and had a short course of therapy. Had I said something the first time, or even when problems started after my second child was born, my recovery would have almost certainly been shorter. Hard to know if I would have needed medication, but it probably would have been a shorter course.
I hope that if you are pregnant, might be pregnant soon, have recently had a baby, or know someone in these situations, you will keep this information in mind. Please check out the links and bookmark them for your use. You never know if you could be that caring person that helps a mom pull away from pregnancy-related mental illness.