Identifying Post-Partum Depression

Courtesy of Bethany Mccormick

Post-partum Depression is often misunderstood and confused with the “baby blues.” The maternity blues is a fairly common, and transient, experience that occurs within the first ten days of giving birth. It is mostly attributed to hormonal fluctuations and will stabilize within about a ten day period. Post-partum depression (PD), however, does not have these attributes. It often develops somewhat slowly and “under the radar.” A smaller percentage of women within the population will experience PD. It can begin as early as two weeks post-partum and as late as a year. The good news is that if a woman seeks help sooner rather than later, PD can usually be confined to the first year. Unfortunately many women ignore their symptoms or feel guilt or fear in seeking the help that can bring healing. Untreated symptoms allows the depression to stick around beyond the first post-partum year and have negative effects to mom, baby, and the family.

Some of the symptoms of PD will obviously overlap with other types of depression including (but not limited to): worry, tearfulness, irritability, sadness, guilt, lethargy, and  appetite changes. Some nuances specific to PD are inability to cope with the new baby and extra anxiety about the baby. One theory concerning the onset of PD takes into account our more isolated and individualized Western culture  which does not lend itself toward much social support. New mothers without partners, family, or involved friends might feel the weight of parenthood in a more negative and isolated way. Another more common risk factor is the heaviness of expectations that the mother has for herself, or that others around her have for her. These expectations for what a mother should be and/or feel can wreak havoc on a new parent seeking to do the best they can in the situation they may be in.

If one has concerns that they might be experiencing post-partum depression, I would encourage you to seek help immediately in order to address it before it becomes a more severe issue. There are many avenues for mitigating the effects of PD and moving beyond it. There is hope for an efficient and effective recovery for mom, infant, and family.

Cows and Buffalos (Thoughts on Depression)

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Courtesy of James Douglas

Around 1 in every 6 people in the United States will experience a depressive episode in their lifetime. Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime. Only about half of those with diagnosed depression seek treatment, which can skew the numbers and indicate that the prevalence rates are higher. In any case, hearts are struggling.

When a storm is coming, the animals seem to have a keen sense of it. As humans, we may not be as attuned to nature as the birds, but we do tend to be aware of when our hope begins to fade and the darkness of depression threatens. When the clouds gather and the thunder grumbles, cows do what any sane animal might do, they run away from it. Not desiring to be trapped under a deluge of water or the strobe effect of lightening, they run as far away from the oncoming system as they can. Unfortunately, nature has a way of winning out and moving faster. The storm, unless it dissipates, will overtake them. Buffalos, though, go a different route. They run into the storm. They turn toward it and enter in to fear and the darkness. And they make it through to the sunshine in much quicker time.

Depression is a lot like that. People’s greatest fears concerning emotions, according to Brene Brown, are shame and grief. Depression touches on both of those emotions. It says you are helpless, hopeless, and you can experience isolation in your despair. If we want to avoid feelings of shame, grief, sadness, and pain, we will do whatever it takes to fight it off and bolt the opposite direction. Depression is the oncoming storm, and should you choose to run away from it and fight it, you will linger in the darkness for much longer than you would desire. Entering in to it to learn what it has to teach you is the pathway out.

There is no quick fix to depression. But I believe God gave us feelings as signals in our lives that are worth acknowledging. There are many instances of characters in the Bible who struggled with depression (Jeremiah and David to name a few). The Psalms are filled with laments and grievous words. Yet these people were chosen by God. Sometimes it was a consequence of unconfessed sin, or the overwhelming pain observed in the world, but there was always a purpose. God can use anything, and he certainly uses depression in the lives of men and women. Perhaps it’s a wakeup call, a signal things are not right, a growth experience, or even a doorway to greater freedom. It takes great courage to walk in to the storm. Being honest with your self, and with your experience is a step in the right direction.

[Depression is a painful and difficult illness, sometimes chronic. If you feel you are experiencing depression please seek help]