Unfortunately, many women experience postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. While common, this illness is still misunderstood, and even some mothers do not fully realize its severity. There are some myths about postpartum depression that all new mothers should be aware of, because some of the myths are harmful and prevent people from seeking help when they really need it.
Myth: It's normal to be depressed after your have a baby.
Many new moms or their families make the dangerous assumption that it's just normal to feel sad, angry, tired, or anxious as a new mother. While every parent does have good and bad days, every day should not be bad, especially after the regular recovery period for delivery has passed. It is not normal to feel consistently upset and depressed, and if you have few good days and many bad ones, it's time to speak with your doctor.
Myth: If you weren't sad right after your baby was born, you're safe.
Some women may feel that they were fine for months after the baby was born, so they should be fine now. However, PPD can strike at any time in the year after a baby is born. Just because you had several months of feeling great does not mean you should dismiss the symptoms of PPD as they appear.
Myth: If you don't feel like harming yourself or others, you don't really need help.
While self-harm or harming others is indeed one of the biggest dangers of untreated depression, it should not be the only factor that influences your decision to get help or not. If you feel consistently irritable, anxious, depressed, sad, or disinterested in life, these are signs enough that you should seek medical intervention and counseling. Harming yourself and others may not be something you think about now, but as depression progresses without treatment, those thoughts can begin to form.
Myth: You're a bad parent if you get PPD.
Guilt over depression only makes depression more pronounced. Women who have depression are not bad mothers; they simply need medical treatment for an illness caused by incomplete recovery from pregnancy. It's natural to feel some shame about postpartum depression, but those feelings aren't indicative of reality. Family members of a woman who is fighting depression should be quick to reassure her that she is an adequate and loving parent, and they should encourage her to seek or continue depression treatment.
Myth: If you have PPD, you'll look depressed.
Unfortunately, depression has a certain amount of social stigma. Many people assume that depressed people can't even get out of bed in the morning and that they may not eat properly or exercise, or even take a shower. You might shrug off symptoms of depression because you are still functioning in a socially acceptable way.
While showering, working out, eating well, and staying involved are effective ways to combat depression, there is no specific "way" for a depressed person to look. Just because someone doesn't "look" like they have PPD, doesn't mean they don't actually have the illness.
Myth: If you just slept more and ate better, you would not be depressed.
Depression can be amplified by sleep loss, but it is not caused by lack of sleep or poor nutrition alone. While diet and sleep can help someone manage the symptoms of depression more effectively, this illness will not go away with lifestyle changes alone. A combination of counseling and medication is usually necessary to fully treat depression.
For more information on postpartum depression counseling and treatment, contact a professional counseling agency near you or click here for more information. You can regain full control over your new role of motherhood, even when battling depression.
After developing a chronic physical illness, I soon began realizing that the disease plagued my mind almost more than it did my body. While my illness is not life-threatening, it was very difficult accepting that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life and eat a strict diet. After a year of depression, I finally overcame my fear of "exposing" my feelings to others and made an appointment with a mental health counselor. With her help, I was able to see the "silver linings" in life that I had greatly taken for granted before I became ill. I now encourage anyone who is battling an illness of any type to seek the psychological help they need. I plan to post lots of little mental health tips and tricks on my new blog along with advice for choosing a good counselor. Please come back soon!