New motherhood is supposed to be a sacred time. But when postpartum depression hits, it can feel like something you might not survive.
Here are just seven tips for getting through the dark days:
1. Know you’re not alone. One of the loneliest times of my life was when I was going through postpartum depression. But according to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 7 women experience some form of postpartum mood disorder. Postpartum Progress is full of resources on postpartum depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. The site offers a bevy of articles as well as links to other resources. You can even sign up to receive a daily email with inspiring words to help get you through the day.
2. Find a support group. Online resources are wonderful, but in-person support can be even more helpful. When I found a support group for other women struggling with adjusting to new motherhood, I felt immense relief. Hearing other women sharing about the same feelings I was having helped so much. I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t crazy. And seeing that some of these women were recovering from depression and anxiety gave me hope that things would get better.
3. Consider medication. Choosing whether or not to take or increase meds is a very personal choice, and one you can discuss with your healthcare provider. For me, a bump in my antidepressants boosted me out of the darkest of my postpartum depression and gave me the energy to look for further support.
Let your friends and family know you need help—they will likely be glad to do so.
4. Find a therapist. A supportive therapist—especially one who is well-versed in postpartum issues—can be a real lifeline. This list can help you find someone who can offer one-on-one support.
5. Rally all the help you can. Asking for help can be hard, but think about it this way: you just had a baby. And you are dealing with a legitimate illness. With these two huge things on your plate, you are so deserving of extra help. Let your friends and family know you need help—they will likely be glad to do so. If you don’t have supportive family or friends nearby and you can afford it, consider hiring a postpartum doula. A doula can give you a break from caring for your baby so you can take care of yourself—catch up on sleep, go for a walk, or anything else that supports your wellness.
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6. Remember: it’s not your fault. Postpartum depression is bad enough without the added judgments that sometimes accompany it. One of the most helpful things I heard was from a nursing assistant at my midwives’ office. “You didn’t choose this,” she told me, looking straight into my eyes. “This chose you. It’s not your fault.” Her words helped me think of my depression as not something that I somehow caused, but rather something that had happened to me, like any other unpleasant medical condition. It didn’t eradicate the depression, but it reminded me that I wasn’t responsible for the descent of depression.
7. Know that this won’t last forever. It’s hard, because depression distorts our ability to see things rationally. But I promise you, there will be sacred times ahead. You won’t always feel like this.
May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and we're coming together to embrace all mamas today and every day who are suffering or have suffered from PPD. We'd love to share how you overcame or are overcoming PPD with our readers. Tag us at#FACESOFPOSTPARTUM and#momdotme on Instagram andshare your story with us.