By Amber McLamb, Social Media Manager for Fight the War Within Foundation
You may be aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but in addition to this, the week of May 10th, in particular, is dedicated to Women’s Mental Health issues. This week, in honor of all the mothers out there, we at Fight the War Within would like to showcase postpartum depression and the so-called “baby blues”.
The birth of a baby is an incredibly emotional and sometimes traumatic experience for a mother. Whether the delivery goes 100% as planned, or an emergency requires a change in that plan, it is an event filled with powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and despair. The delivery itself also causes a major shift in hormones, causing a complete chemical reset that can sometimes result in irritability, anxiety, and something you might not expect — depression.
Most new moms experience postpartum symptoms after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and can sometimes last for up to two weeks.
But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of mood alteration known as postpartum depression. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth, with some symptoms lasting indefinitely and requiring ongoing treatment and care.
It is important for new mothers to note, that postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. It doesn’t mean that you did something wrong, or that there’s something wrong with you. It is part of becoming a mother, and, if you let it, can be a force that makes you stronger than you ever were before.
If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby. Communication is pivotal during this time, and, as we like to remind everyone facing internal struggles, “You are NOT alone.”
If at any point you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby and call 911 or your local emergency assistance number to get help.
Also consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:
-Seek help from your primary care provider or other health care professional.
-Call a mental health professional.
-Call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
-Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
-Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
There are also numerous support groups out there for new moms. Check with your local hospital, church/religious organization, or even Facebook, to see if there are any groups. And if you have any other mom friends out there, ASK THEM ANYTHING. Moms are always always ALWAYS willing to help another mom out, because we have ALL been through the good days and the bad with our children.
Fight on, Mom warriors.