No, I’m not talking about potato chips or pecan pie. It’s the other “P” word; the one no one wants to talk about. Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder most commonly affecting women after they have given birth to a child. As a new mom and human service professional, I am going to address the “P” word so that our community of mommies can provide empowerment, solutions, and resources to prevent or overcome postpartum depression.
2016 was one of the most unsuccessful years of my adult life to date. I had recently quit a dead-end job, my money was looking funny, my oldest (and only) child was having behavioral problems at school, and I was very unmotivated to pursue any personal dreams and goals. In the midst of all of that, I had somehow managed to get pregnant. My first pregnancy was over 12 years ago! I thought I was done. How did this happen? The timing and circumstances were awful. I remained in denial until I saw an ultrasound. The bottom line is, I was in the worse emotional state of my life and this pregnancy was icing on the cake. As a formal mental health counselor, I knew what I had to do.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the risk for a woman being diagnosed with postpartum depression is greater if they are undergoing a stressful life event, having mixed feelings about their pregnancy, have a history of depression, and/or the lack of family/partner/spousal support. With my unemployment, lack of finances, and loss of motivation, I was already on the road to depression. Then I was also told that my baby may have impending health problems due to a genetic disorder. The chances of being diagnosed with postpartum depression were in my favor.
Postpartum depression is a chemical imbalance in a woman’s hormones level after she delivers her baby. Because of this chemical imbalance, mommies can be prone to mood swings, severe depression, and dangerous erratic behavior. As a woman who likes being in control of herself, the fear of not being in control of my mental and physical health scared me into prevention by allowing me to create a prevention plan for myself.
A prevention plan is when you are able to identify potentially hazardous behaviors or symptoms, then creating personalized solutions to prevent a negative outcome. This can be done with the help of a therapist/counselor, life coach, a best friend, or through connecting with other moms. Through my prevention plan, I was able to focus on the moment by identifying things I could control and things I could not.
Today, I have a 12-week-old healthy son who passed his genetic screenings. I have no signs of postpartum depression, and my personal problems are organized by what I can control and things I cannot control. I am glad I decided to create a prevention plan and seek help. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
If you are experiencing signs of uncontrollably crying, severe sudden sadness, or thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately from a trained medial professional. Below are some resources you can check out to create a prevention plan or locate a support group:
Lexington Medical Center: Offering child birth and postpartum services: (803) 791-2631.