(Depression In Moms- Part 1)
There’s a big difference between clinical depression and postpartum depression. For one, clinical depression usually pre-exists pregnancy or giving birth. However, if you are prone to depression, the likelihood for you to experience depression after giving birth is higher. But don’t mistake postpartum depression with general depression.
Postpartum Depression & General Depression is Not The Same
Many women who experience postpartum depression have never experienced anything like it. But for me, I am a life long sufferer of major depression, which means I am more prone to experiencing postpartum depression than someone not diagnosed with depression.
I didn’t get diagnosed with clinical major depression until I was in my early 30s, but I always knew I had it. Depression is not something most people visibly see, and like many with the condition, I am good at putting on my poker face. I don’t walk around wearing my diagnosis on my sleeve but instead I’ve done my best to acclimate.
WHY PEOPLE HIDE THEIR DEPRESSION OR LIVE IN DENIAL OF IT
Approximately 350 million people suffer from depression and the number might be higher, as many people live in denial.
People are afraid of their mental health being an issue in employment or getting in the way of personal relationships. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against their employees based off the fact that he/she has mental health needs. Nonetheless, the stigma still exists, so people fear what co-workers, friends, and distant family members might think.
JUST because you’re depressed, it doesn’t mean you have postpartum depression
I thought I had postpartum depression, so I joined a bunch of Facebook postpartum groups, only to find that, after a lot of research, I didn’t truly have it. Having a new baby didn’t help my depression either, and the symptoms did get a little worse. So I went back on medication. But, I always had insomnia as well as depression and pre-existing/ongoing general depression is different from having postpartum depression.
Notably, one of the major signs and symptoms of postpartum depression is lack of bonding with your child. Other general signs are crying spells, irritability, and moodiness. Some moms can’t take care of their child, so someone else has to help. I know a few moms whose husbands and extended family had to take care of their newborn for a good chunk of time. They didn’t want to breastfeed, pick them up or touch them. And, in extreme cases, others experience dark thoughts of hurting themselves and their child. Some moms actually succeed, unfortunately. In 2013 a highly successful lawyer in Manhattan, New York strapped her son on her via a carrier and jumped out of her 8-story apartment. The mother, who suffered from postpartum depression, didn’t survive, but miraculously her 10 month-old son lived.
You Can Have General Depression & Have A Strong bond with your child
I didn’t experience any of the postpartum symptoms like the crying spells, lack of bonding, and mood swings. Well, because I didn’t technically have it. I just had the usual general depression that I’ve always had since childhood. Needless to say, my daughter and I have a very strong bond. She loves to breastfeed and still does, and I love to breastfeed her as long as possible. It’s always been this way from the moment she was born. Did I experience general depression directly after she was born? Yes, but again, it’s been a life long battle for me.
It’s my firm belief that if you already have depression, your depression will likely worsen after birth. There are tons of hormones going through you body as well. You might be more prone to postpartum depression. So, although I don’t have classic postpartum depression I’ve always had depression. If you’re like me, then I highly recommend that you get treated. Seeing a therapist isn’t enough, as I found out. I needed more and if you do, too, don’t be afraid or embarrassed if you need medication. I didn’t go back on meds until after my daughter was a year old. She’s still breastfeeding and isn’t affected by the meds I take.
You Don’t Need To Take Anti-Depressants Forever
I just recently got off my medication Cymbalta and I feel pretty good. So just remember that getting help is the most important thing. It’s up to you and your body and your doctor. Having a support system, making new mom friends, and staying busy helps. Understand, that meds aren’t bad. Whether you’ve always had depression and it’s exacerbated due to giving birth or you have full-blown postpartum depression with all the classic signs, don’t be ashamed to reach out.
You’re a better parent to your child if you get the help you need.