Postpartum depression and depression in general can be a touchy topic. However, it is finding its way into the spotlight with more and more people seeking help. Each person’s experience with the awful beast of depression is unique. However, I’m living proof there is hope!
Here are a few resources I have found helpful in identifying symptoms and combatting my own depression:
Postpartum Progress by Katherine Stone
Screening Quiz by About.com Pediatrics
Facts about Depression by Medical News Today
Definitions, Symptoms, Treatment Options and more by The Mayo Clinic
Baby Center’s page on Postpartum Depression by BabyCenter.com
Since the birth of our first daughter, I have battled postpartum depression. In fact, my fear of having to face depression almost dissuaded us from having our third child. At first, I did not recognize the feelings I was having as symptoms of depression. I simply attributed my feelings of guilt and hopelessness to sleep deprivation and adjusting to parenthood. Now that I am aware of the symptoms I experience with my depression, I proactively seek treatment and eek my way out of the sink hole before it sucks me down.
Some feelings I personally experience with postpartum depression include:
- Guilt – for wanting to catch up on my sleep rather than take my baby out in public.
- Hopelessness – facing another day of unending sadness and frustration leaves me feeling hopeless and I must fight just to get out of bed.
- Anxiety – stirred up, stressed out, worried feelings of “I can’t do anything right!” about almost anything I attempt to do. Everything from caring for our newborn to juggling cooking, cleaning, handling household duties and caring for our older children give me anxiety.
- Atypical Mood Swings, Anger and Irritability – When I am depressed, I have an unusually short fuse and a supremely low level of patience. Every itty bitty thing irritates the heck out of me! Little pet peeves blow up into reasons to end a relationship or lead me to avoid people altogether. It sucks.
But none of these things are the True Me. A Special Thank You to my patient, devoted, loving husband. He stands by me through all depression has brought into our lives! He is a Saint, and I love him dearly.
So what do I do to combat depression and keep this heinous monster at bay? I develop a treatment plan with my therapist and go through trial and error until my depressive symptoms resolve. It’s a multi-step process.
First, I take a step back, where my counselor and I identify my triggers. Things like stress from overcommitting to too many tasks, poor diet, not enough exercise, lack of sleep, or not taking enough “me” time always top the list.
Second, I attend therapy once per week until I feel comfortable in applying my coping mechanisms and things begin looking rosier.
Third, my counselor and I develop a customized treatment plan to pull me out of the darkness and back in to the light of my beautiful, Blessed life.
My treatment plan includes the following:
- taking a low dose anti-depressant on a daily basis
- exercise – 30-60 minutes per day of yoga, walking, jogging, soccer, or anything aerobic
- 30-60 minutes per day of good old-fashioned sunlight. I often combine my exercise and daily sunlight treatment. Win-Win!
- therapy sessions – weekly at first, then every 2 weeks for maintenance once I begin feeling relief from the depressive symptoms.
It bears mentioning that an effective therapist is a trained professional who listens to you with an objective ear and guides you in identifying any issues you have and developing useful strategies to help you remedy the issues at hand. Any worthwhile therapist will tell you (particularly in cases of depression), it is critical to attend therapy every 1-2 weeks (and no less frequently) in order for the strategies you identify in therapy to be most effective.
When you or someone you know is experiences depression, what helps alleviate it? What keeps the dragon of depression at bay?
Disclosure: The information and material contained in this post are presented for educational purposes and are informational in nature only. Statements and opinions expressed in this post are those of Amy Askin only and should not be considered facts. While the information and materials presented are believed to be accurate, they are not intended to replace or substitute professional medical advice or care, and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health care problem or disease or for prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your baby’s or your physical or mental health, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.