Moms Share Their Stories: Postpartum Depression

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Image via EverydayFamily

It is estimated that 9 to 16% of moms will experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can affect every aspect of a woman's life, including her ability to bond with her baby, withdrawal from loved ones, and thoughts of self-harm or harm to others. If postpartum depression is left untreated, it can last for many, many months.

Postpartum depression can look different for every mom, yet the isolation and feelings of lack of joy and shame are typically similar. Three moms are finding the courage to share their story of their struggle with PPD in hopes that speaking out may help others.

{ MORE: 5 Totally Weird But Normal Things That Happen After You Have a Baby }

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Image via Crystal Rogers

Prior to the birth of your child did your doctor discuss signs and symptoms of PPD with you?

I really don't recall any talk of it with any of my pregnancies. If there was, it was very minimal.

When did you first start having PPD? How long did you experience symptoms from it?

Right after child birth. Almost an entire year after my third child.

What were the top three hardest everyday activities for you while you were dealing with PPD?

Focusing at my job was a huge problem. I had trouble multi-tasking. All of my organization went completely out the window. The worst part of my depression was that I grieved over my aunt every single day like she had died that day. She had passed away from cancer the beginning of 2009, and I had Kadyn 10/24/10.

What was your biggest fear after the diagnosis of PDD?

I never got diagnosed or specifically talked about it with a doctor. My biggest fear was that the since I recognized the depression, it was never going to end. I couldn't control it.

Did you notice the warning signs or did a family or friend?

Awhile into it, I realized it, and my mom noticed it as well.

How long did it take for you to have the courage to seek professional help?

I sought help for anxiety issues to help me sleep, but always thought I just needed to get through it myself.

What advice would you give a mom in the delivery room about postpartum depression?

I think it's important to have someone that you are close to that you can confide in–someone that will understand what you are going through. My husband doesn't get all the hormonal stuff, so I found my mom and my best friend to be very helpful in getting me through that first year.

I also think what little time you can get to yourself, especially with a baby around, is really important. Relieving stress and sleeping well can also help. Whatever works for you, whether it's yoga, reading a book, etc.

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— Crystal Rogers, mom of three

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Image via Shannon

Prior to the birth of your child, did your doctor discuss signs and symptoms of PPD with you?'

Yes. We chatted about PPD because I have a family history (on my dad's side) of bipolar disorder and manic behavior. I was aware of the warning signs and symptoms, but something in me was still in denial that it could actually happen to me.

When did you first start having PPD?

I think it was always there under the surface, but my symptoms were strongest at six weeks postpartum.

How long did you experience symptoms from it?

It lasted off and on, with significant highs and lows, until my son was 2 1/2 years old.

What were the top three hardest everyday activities for you while you were dealing with PPD?

Eating — Making the decision of what to eat, how to eat it, what to prepare, etc. was too overwhelming to me, so I just didn't eat.

Breastfeeding — I put a ton of pressure on myself to breastfeed day and night to pump and be all that I thought I was supposed to be. I didn't realize how much pressure I was putting on myself mentally to provide and then deal with the guilt when I couldn't. It was a huge downward spiral for me.

Sleeping — I don't remember a single time when I slept when the baby was sleeping. I felt like I had to be doing something–I guess to overcompensate for feeling like I was doing a bad job as a mom to a newborn.

What was your biggest fear after the diagnosis of PDD?

Not recovering. I turned into a really, really angry person, and my husband got the brunt of it. I threw things at walls, screamed, cried, slammed doors. I was absolutely terrified that this was my new normal and that I was going to lose my family as a result.

Did you notice the warning signs or did a family or friend?

My husband noticed the raging anger first because he bore the brunt of it. We knew that I was at higher risk during my entire pregnancy, but he's definitely the one who brought it up and encouraged me to talk to someone.

How long did it take for you to have the courage to seek professional help?

I got help at the six-week mark after a few rageaholic episodes. I first spoke to my doctor, then sought help from a psychotherapist and support circle for moms with PPD.

What advice would you give a mom in the delivery room about postpartum depression?

It happens, and you can fight it. It doesn't define who you are but will impact your story and leave a scar so deep that you won't be sure what to do with it for a while. It will make you stronger. It will help shape your journey. It is scary, but I promise you, there is sunshine on the other side.

— Shannon of Sweet Stellas, mom of one and expecting baby #2

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Image via Flickr/ tostadophoto.com

Prior to the birth of your child, did your doctor discuss signs and symptoms of PPD with you?

I don't exactly remember discussing PPD with my physician during my prenatal visits, but parts of that period are a blur. I did have some anxiety issues during my second trimester and did inquire about medication but feared the side effects. So I did the best that I could. We discussed PPD during my hospital stay, and I filled out a questionnaire before I left the hospital and was given information.

When did you first start having PPD?

I started noticing some things pretty early. I was extremely paranoid about germs and hated raw meat in my refrigerator. I think I annoyed my mother with my cleaning rules. Then I started thinking I would die from illness or somehow my baby would contract a food-borne illnesses. I think this was in the first three months or so.

At what point did you realize you needed intervention?

I knew I needed help when I began worrying that my boyfriend and son's father would kidnap our son when he returned from deployment or that he would kill me. These thoughts began to persist over a few weeks. I had to see my OB/GYN. I explained things to him, and he was so gentle. He shared his story about his own wife's PPD. That was so real and very comforting. We discussed medication and my fears because I was breastfeeding. He handled my questions with compassion and also recommended counseling as well.

What treatment did you receive, and how did it help?

I researched the medication on KellyMom and decided to proceed. I started with 10 mg of Lexapro, but that made me sleepy, so I cut it to 5 mg, and that worked, and so did therapy. Then my COBRA insurance became too expensive, and I stopped the medication. My mother has been my saving grace, and her love and support has helped me cope.

How long did you experience symptoms?

I felt symptoms for at least a year and a half. I still have periods of feeling extremely overwhelmed, but I am also raising my child alone with the help of my mother. My boyfriend is deployed again.

What advice would you give a mom in the delivery room about postpartum depression?

PPD is something I never expected and is at times difficult to explain to those who don't understand it or those who feel you should just suck it up.

— Anonymous mom of one loving toddler

{ MORE: One Thing that Could Make You More Likely to Have Postpartum Depression: BDNF }

Have you experienced postpartum depression?

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Moms Share Their Stories: Postpartum Depression

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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2 comments

  1. ovation says:

    Thank you for this article. Story #2 hit home for me. My OB did talk to me about PPD. But it wasn’t to big a concern due to I didn’t have any issues with my first pregnancy. I had some blues after he was 6 mths old and I lost breastfeeding and the hormone change that comes with that. Ofcourse the guilt that you cannot provide for your baby. But within a few weeks it was gone and life went on. With my 2nd baby things were much different. I had the hormone changes 6-8 weeks postpartum and I lost breastfeeding when he was 3 mths old. It hit like a storm. I felt as if I was spiraling in2 a dark hole and couldn’t get out. I had terrible anger twds my husband and he was at work all day. I would cry all night while everyone was sleeping and be exhausted all the next day due to no sleep. I felt so alone. My husband walked on egg shells as to avoid me going off on him. I had no patients with my now 4 yr old. It didn’t go away like the first time and I felt I was down alot deeper. I’m also hypothyroid so if my thyroid is off per my meds everything goes awry. I finally went to my Dr where she confirmed it was depression and I wasn’t crazy which made me cry. I seriously thought I was losing my mind. She put me on meds immediately and tested my thyroid which was off. After a couple weeks I felt like myself again. Now looking back I can’t believe how awful I felt. Please by all means if you even think your depressed or something just isn’t right go to your Dr. Seek some sort of help. Life can be normal again. I’ve been off the depression meds for few mths now and doing fine. It never hurts to have a conversation with your Dr.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story! I can only imagine how scary it must have felt to reach that state of depression and to take the first step to seek out help from your doctor. I can only hope your strength and story will encourage other mom’s to do the same.

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