Being 8 months pregnant, one of the concerns that has crossed my mind is how things will be once I have the baby. I expect the hormonal crash. What I don’t expect is dealing with Postpartum Depression. I know it’s a very real condition, and I am fully aware that it can be treated. Perhaps one of the most outspoken advocates on Postpartum depression is Brooke Shields. She shared her story very publicly in an attempt to help women heal. This is an excerpt from her story:
“At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn’t simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different. In the past, if I got depressed or if I felt sad or down, I knew I could counteract it with exercise, a good night’s sleep, or a nice dinner with a friend. If PMS made me introspective or melancholy, or if the pressures of life made me gloomy, I knew these feelings wouldn’t last forever. But this was sadness of a shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the facts about Postpartum Depression are:
*Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.
*Postpartum depression likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors. After childbirth, the estrogen and progesterone levels in a woman’s body quickly drop. This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.
*Only a health care provider can diagnose a woman with postpartum depression. Because symptoms of this condition are broad and may vary between women, a health care provider can help a woman figure out whether the symptoms she is feeling are due to postpartum depression or another condition.
Some symptoms to look for would be:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
- Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
- Thinking about harming herself or her baby
- Experiencing anger or rage
- Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
Postpartum depression is a very real condition, and is also a very treatable condition. There is no shame in suffering with Postpartum depression. If you suspect you or someone you know has Postpartum depression, call your doctor, or call the toll-free 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).
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