Having postpartum depression (PPD) is hard. I had it after the birth of both of my sons, and I still live with daily depression. And I’m not alone. According to the website Postpartum Progress, between 10 to 15% of women will experience a postpartum mood disorder, whether that be PPD, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD or postpartum psychosis. That’s a lot of struggling mamas!
Through my journey with PPD, and by connecting with other moms who are afflicted, I’ve come to realize that there are still so many misconceptions about what PPD is and how it manifests. So I reached out to my friends, and together we compiled this list of 5 things moms with PPD need you to know.
1. Yes, we love our babies even if we don’t seem like it.
It’s true that one of the symptoms of PPD is feeling like you’re not bonded with your baby. Some moms with PPD may feel distant, detached or downright irritated by their baby’s presence. I know I was. Every time my son would cry, I would just think in my head, “Do you really need something again?!” But just because we may not have that picturesque bond with our babies doesn’t mean we don’t love them. It was quite the opposite for me, actually. My love for my son is the only reason I reached out for help.
2. We take new mom exhaustion to a whole new level.
All new moms are tired. They’re up all night feeding babies, changing babies, rocking babies, washing bottles … if you’re reading this, you likely know the drill. Lack of sleep is a part of the job description. But exhaustion, lethargy and insomnia are also signs of depression. And the inability to rest, even in those rare, quiet moments when you’ve got an hour or so to snooze before the next feeding, makes PPD symptoms worse.
3. We may not look depressed, but trust us, we are.
PPD comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some people will exhibit the classic symptoms of a depressed mood, but others won’t. Some moms will feel overwhelmingly guilty for everything they do and can’t do. Others might feel agitated or irritated. And then there’s moms with other postpartum mood disorders, like postpartum anxiety or OCD, who feel more like nervous wrecks. PPD and related mood disorders will look different from one person to the next, but they are legitimate medical conditions. They’re not something we can just snap out of, as much as we wish we could.
4. Feel free to offer us help – we need it!
If you have a friend with PPD, you may be trying to think of ways to help her. But you may feel awkward asking how to help or offering to assist. Don’t. We know we need help to get through this, and we want the assistance. Granted, some moms with PPD may not feel comfortable suggesting ways they need help (that’s where the whole guilt thing comes in), but we generally will appreciate any random act of kindness. Even just calling to check up on us can do so much to brighten our day.
5. We may have good days, but that doesn’t mean we’re better (yet).
PPD ebbs and flows. And that’s good news, because it means that even though we’re depressed, we still have good days. But having a good day, or even a few good days in a row, doesn’t mean we’re magically better. It can take months of medication and therapy to overcome PPD, and some moms (like lucky ole me) will develop a more longer-lasting form of depression.
If you’re suffering from PPD, please know that you’re not alone! In fact, I run a private, secret Facebook group to prove it. If you would like to join the Louisiana Postpartum Depression Support Group on Facebook (which won’t show up on your profile), Facebook private message Karen Tantzen. Let’s support one another!