So many mothers I have met have suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of at least one of their children. Some mothers I have met have also suffered from depression during a pregnancy, which is much less talked about than postpartum depression. This is a huge topic, and one that a blog post really can’t even do justice to, but my goal is to provide some places on the Web and links to groups that make the support of mothers who are battling depression their main focus.
According to “Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide For Helping Mothers” by Nancy Mohrbacher, “More than half of new mothers have occasional bouts of crying, irritability, and fatigue sometimes referred to as “the baby blues.” Postpartum depression refers to more consistent and severe symptoms and is also relatively common, with some estimating the incidence within the first year of new motherhood to be 12% to 25% overall and 35% or more among high-risk mothers.”
On a purely physical level, some research states the release of proinflammatory cytokines by the immune system have been found to be a cause for postpartum depression, but there also appear to be risk factors that can predispose mothers toward this inflammation. These risk factors can include sleep disturbances, stress in the mother’s life, physical pain (nipple pain in particular), psychological trauma or a history of abuse or trauma, a traumatic birth experience. Breastfeeding can be a protector against depression:
“Breastfeeding lowers stress and increases sleep, which decreases a mother’s risk of depression. When breastfeeding is going well, it can decrease inflammation and increase a mother’s feelings of well-being. Overall breastfeeding has been found to protect mothers’ mental health. Although breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of postpartum depression, breastfeeding is not a guarantee against depression.” – from Nancy Mohrbacher’s book quoted above.
It is important for those who love mothers suffering from depression to be a listening ear; it is easy for depressed mothers to feel their feelings are so terrible that they cannot hardly share their pain. To feel as if everyone has it all together and you do not; to feel guilty because you are sad and finding it challenging to enjoy mothering or this new little life is so difficult.
Here is a more technically-oriented book I like about depression in mothers by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett (well, I liked the first edition, and I am certain this updated second edition must be pretty wonderful. I have heard the author speak several times at conferences) http://www.amazon.com/Depression-New-Mothers-Consequences-Alternatives/dp/0415778395/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308568083&sr=8-1 Are there any books that you have read regarding depression and mothering that were helpful? Please do share the titles in the comment box below.
Round Up Of Links That May Be Helpful:
Despite the link title, LOL, this is a very good interview with noted health psychologist, researcher and frequent speaker on the subject of depression, Kathleen Kendall Tackett: http://sexynursingbra.com/kathleen-kendall-tackett.html There are some points about things to help depression that do not involve medication, and also some talk about depression during pregnancy.
This one was interesting as well from La Leche League: “A Point/Counterpoint on Post partum Depression”: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lviss2-2008p4.html
If you are looking for information regarding prescribed medications, here is a really good article from the Texas Tech Infant Risk Center regarding antidepressant use in pregnancy and post-partum: http://www.infantrisk.com/content/antidepressant-usage-during
From The Office of Women’s Health regarding depression during pregnancy and postpartum: http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/depression-pregnancy.cfm
Here is one mother’s story about living with post partum depression: http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/my-year-with-postpartum-depression/
Here is Kellymom’s Postpartum Adjustment Resource Guide, which has links to many centers of help: http://www.kellymom.com/ppd/ppd-resourceguide.html
To find a support group near you: http://www.depressionafterdelivery.com/
If you have any helpful links or resources, or feel comfortable sharing your own experiences, please do so in the comment box below.