When Motherhood Feels Scary
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Depression is still one of the most common medical conditions of pregnancy. So, when I see messages that imply that we just need good thoughts, positivity, and good vibes I want to scream. And don't even get me started on the peachy keen picture-perfect saviors/healers in social media that will take care of all our mental health.
In this article we will discuss the symptoms of depression and what you and others around you can do if you’re experiencing postpartum depression.
Depression in postpartum can be filled with:
- lack of appetite
- loss of interest in life and love
- a sinking feeling of loneliness
You feel like you're the only one feeling this way. And you can often feel that nobody can help you. For sure it's also common to feel that on top of it all you're also a bad mom.
Vulnerable populations like people of color, those in poverty, those that have experienced trauma are in greater danger of experiencing the effects of postpartum depression unchecked and without resources easily accessible.
Ok, but here's the thing. Despite those feelings, even when you feel that YOU ARE ALL ALONE, you are not. Yes, we need more resources in the vulnerable populations, we need more support in all ways for all mothers, but you are not alone.
When you're in a depression, it can be scary. You may feel "crazy" or that things just aren't right inside of you. And at times your cries for help go completely unnoticed.
Depression in motherhood can also feel scary or confusing to partners and families. A well-meaning family member or friend may just want you to dismiss it or to suggest you walk it off, go do something fun, go on a date night! You'll feel better!
And partners can be confused by seeing you depressed because after all, wasn't this supposed to be the BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES?
There's a stigma that comes with depression in motherhood. It's not generally accepted. And so in addition to the feelings you're experiencing inside, you may also feel the need to keep them to yourself.
Partners and Family: What to Do When Mother is Depressed
- Ask her how she feels inside
- Be an active listener
- Empathize with her feelings
- Find ways to help her in mothering so that she can make time to care for her mental health without having to take the baby with her to appointments
- Carry some of her mental load (baby pediatrician appointments, grocery planning, meal planning, accomplishing some of her to-do lists, managing the household, etc)
- Remind that she is not alone, that you are going to support her through the depression and that with the right help she will heal
- Call local postpartum resources and help her find the best one(s) for her needs
- Remind yourself that she is not to blame for her depression
- Remind yourself that YOU are not to blame for her depression
- Do not take her depression personally or become defensive
- Remember that in depression there is not a timeline of when she will heal
- Love her the way she needs to be loved
- Remember that supporting a mother in depression can feel heavy for you as well, find healthy ways to care for your mental health
Mothers: What to Do When You Feel Depressed
Depression is when most days you experience sadness and/or hopelessness and that lasts for two weeks or longer.
When you're depressed there are two things for you to do.
- Speak up. Tell someone.
- Call/email/text your local resources for maternal mental health
You are not alone.