Monday, January 31, 2011

10 Facts about Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

1. You will recover. You are not alone. Anyone can get postpartum depression or anxiety. It is not your fault. It is not your partner’s fault. PPD is a condition of several causes. The causes and cures are biological, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual. You may have more stress in one or another of these areas, but full recovery should include all aspects.

2. You need regular breaks from child care. Taking breaks from the intensity of caring for your child(ren) is a necessary part of reducing your stress. It is not a luxury.

3. There is no one thing that will suddenly make PPD go away. In your recovery, you will feel better if you take regular, consistent steps of self-nurturing and accepting support. (Practical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual).

4. You will feel better if you reach out to understanding people and express your feelings. Women who go through PPD without any support end up incorporating their negative feelings into their self-esteem as mothers. Talking to other women who have recovered from PPD is extremely helpful and effective. It is normal to feel embarrassed about your negative feelings, but it will help to have understanding listeners.

5. On the worst days, make it a rule that you will not evaluate your life. Fill your head with senses and even feelings, but leave out comparisons and judgments about your life, your partner, motherhood, your house, etc.

6. Remedies are individual and need to work for you. Remember, different people need different solutions. This applies to questions of medication, alternative therapies, sleeping arrangements, parenting styles, feeding, and what books you read. Learn what works for you.

7. You will feel better if you get outside regularly. Start small and do more as you feel better.

8. PPD/A goes in cycles. There are good days, bad days, and a lot of gray days. If you stick to a plan of self-care, breaks, support and remedies, you will keep feeling better. Don’t despair when a bad day follows a good day. It’s a natural part of the cycle. When you have a hard day after feeling better, do look at your last few days. Did you get any breaks? Did you overdo it? Stuff your feelings? Did the baby have a growth spurt? Are you expecting your period? Make a change in breastfeeding? Are you experiencing extra stress?

9. PPD does not mean you are a bad mother. Negative feelings about motherhood are a result of PPD, not a cause. When we try to make ourselves match our prenatal fantasies, we usually end up depressed. Instead, you can change your picture of motherhood to be more realistic, flexible and satisfying.

10. Your child came to live with you and needs you to be true to yourself. It is okay to have your feelings, to cry and to feel mad and frustrated and even flat nothingness. But do try and make eye contact and touch your baby. It helps if you can smile but don’t get hung up on smiling when you can’t find one inside. Take breaks when you need breaks – if not before you need one.

Courtesy of Wendy N. Davis, Ph.D.

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