In my last post, I talked about the “adjustment period” to motherhood and highlighted some examples of what a healthy adjustment period looks like, and some red flags to look out for that could signify additional support is needed. With 1 in 7 women experiencing mental health conditions known as Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), PMADs are the most common complication of childbirth. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), mental health conditions like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum panic attacks, among others, are so common, that more women will suffer from PMADs than the number of new cases for men and women of Tuberculosis, Leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lupus, and Epilepsy combined in 1 year. Chances are high that you or someone you know will experience a PMAD after the birth of a child.
If you (or someone you know) is feeling like something is not quite right emotionally after the birth of your child, you may need to get help. Not sure if what you are feeling means you might need help? Check out the check-list* below to see how many of the statements you identify with.
*Check-list obtained from “This Isn’t What I Expected – Overcoming Postpartum Depression” by Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW and Valerie Davis, MD.
___ I can't shake feeling depressed no matter what I do.
___ I cry at least once a day.
___ I feel sad most or all of the time.
___ I can't concentrate.
___ I don't enjoy the things I used to enjoy.
___ I have no interest in making love at all, even though my doctor says I'm now physical able to resume sexual relations.
___ I can't sleep even when my baby sleeps.
___ I feel like a failure all of the time.
___ I have no energy; I am tired all the time.
___ I have no appetite and no enjoyment of food (or, I am having sugar and carbohydrate cravings and compulsively eating all the time).
___ I can't remember the last time I laughed.
___ Every little thing gets on my nerves lately. Sometimes, I am even furious at my baby. Often, I am angry with my husband.
___ I feel that the future is hopeless.
___ It seems like I will feel this way forever. There are times when I feel that it would be better to be dead than to feel this way for one more minute. **
Because adjusting to motherhood is hard, it is common that you will identify with some of the statements from the check-list above, but if you find that you are identifying with 4 or more of the statements, it could suggest that you need to reach out to a PMAD specialist to obtain an assessment. Please feel free to reach out to me personally for help. You can find additional support by visiting Postpartum Support International or Maternal Mental Health Now as well.
Don’t hesitate to do so and follow your instinct. You Are Not Alone. You Are Not to Blame. You Can and Will Get Better with Support.
**If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please obtain help immediately. Do not wait. Call 911, go to your nearest hospital emergency room or call the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.