You just had a baby. You were expecting it to be the happiest time of your life. Instead, you find yourself feeling a whirlwind of emotions including ongoing anxiety, intense irritability, loss of interest in activities, and overwhelming feelings of sadness. You’re hesitant to talk to anyone because you think they may think you’re crazy. You’re not. What you may be experiencing is Postpartum depression (PPD). In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, approximately 1 in 7 women struggle with PPD.
Here are 5 key steps in helping you through your PPD:
- Find and create a strong support system. A strong support system may include one’s partner, close friend, and/or a family member. It is important that whomever you choose as part of your support system, it is someone you’re able to open up to and express how you’re feeling. Not only that, but someone whom is willing and able to be receptive and empathetic. PPD will leave you feeling down in the dumps and perhaps even alone, so it is crucial for someone to be there as your pick me up as needed.
- Ask for help. It’s common for people to struggle with asking for help. Most often we do not ask or receive this help until we have hit our breaking point and succumb to a mental breakdown. As a parent, it’s hard to reach out and ask for help because we like to believe that we are superheroes and can manage everything on our own. However, that is not very realistic now, is it? Remember, It’s ok to hire a babysitter so you can run to the grocery store or ask a close friend to help you carpool the kids to school. Most importantly, enlisting some help from others does not make you any less of a parent.
- Re-explore your interests. Once we become a parent we’re supposed to drop all the fun and just take care of our kid(s) from now on, right? Wrong! PPD will have you feeling as if you have time for anything other than being a parent. You may start to notice a lack of interest in some of the activities you once enjoyed, or perhaps not wanting to leave home. However, it’s important to find ways to push past that overwhelming feeling of wanting to be cooped up inside doing nothing other than tending to your responsibilities. Don’t forget to return to some of those old hobbies you once enjoyed, or pick up a new activity that makes you excited.
- Engage in self-care. Self-care is crucial as a parent. It’s easy to become wrapped up in our responsibilities and put ourselves last on the list. Think about it this way, are you allowed a break at work? The answer is yes. Being a parent is a job in itself, so why would taking a break then be any different? Remember, it is ok to take a nap or to go and get a massage. Being a parent is a full time job that you don’t ever leave, so it is perfectly fine to a block off a small part of your day to relax.
- Be patient. Don’t forget that it takes time. Just like with anything else, changes cannot take place overtime. We mustn’t expect drastic improvements, but rather gradual ones. As great as it would be to wake up and suddenly no longer have our PPD weighing us down, we have to remind ourselves to be patient. Remember, you will not feel this way forever. It is important to seek help from a therapist whom specializes in PPD to not only help identify with you some of the symptoms you are experiencing, but to also provide you with the tools that’ll in turn help lift you out of your PPD.
If you want more support, you can see a therapist like me who specializes in helping clients with their PPD. Please contact me at 312.219.5721 or fill out the contact form on our contact page.
Hollie Schmid, AMFT