Six Things to Say to Your Loved One with PPD

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heartAs I continue to use my voice as an advocate for moms who are struggling with PPD, I keep returning to the same questions that my family asked me.  How could we have helped?  What could we have said that would help you get help sooner?  Thank you to my mom and my sister for inspiring this post.

1.  “You will get better.”  Repeat this often to the loved one that is struggling.  She will need lots of affirmation and reassurance that she will recover from this.  Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are temporary, and she will recover with time. When your loved one is in the depths of depression or in the grip of anxiety, she is in survival mode.  She cannot imagine that she will make it through another day.  She needs the support and hope from her family members.

2.  “You are a great mom.” Depression tells a struggling mom the lie that she is a horrible mom.  She feels like she is the only one who is struggling with motherhood.  All the other mothers around her seem to enjoy their babies and have it all together.  She feels like she is the only one with ambivalent or negative feelings about motherhood.  Also tell your loved one specific examples of how her actions demonstrate that she is a great mom.  Depression causes distorted thinking.  A crucial part of recovery is learning to combat the negative self-talk with positive affirmations.

3. “I am here for you.” A struggling mom will isolate herself from friends and family.  It is important to visit her and just let her know that you are there.  Sometimes all she needs is someone to sit with her and hold her hand and hug her.  A loved one’s mere presence can bring comfort to a struggling mom.  Face to face is best.  If you are unable to visit her, send her a handwritten card.  Send her a text.  Write an e-mail.  Pick up the phone.

4.  “You are not alone.” Loneliness coupled with the tendency to isolate makes a struggling mom vulnerable.  The support of her family and close friends aids in the recovery process.  She will not expect you to fully understand her struggle.  If you have not struggled with a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, you would not be able truly understand the experience.  What she needs the most is empathy and kindness.

5.  “I am thinking of you.” I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with your struggling loved one.  You do not have to say much.  It is your presence and your encouragement that means the most.  This simple phrase lets your struggling loved one that she is not forgotten and that she matters.

6.  “I love you.” Unconditional love and support is what a struggling mom needs throughout her entire journey of recovery.  Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders do a number on your loved one’s psyche.  She may feel that she is not lovable.  When you tell her you that your love her, you are giving her validation that she is loved, loving and lovable.

 

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BabyCenter Finds PPD Moms Don’t Seek Help Due To Guilt & Shame

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BABYCENTERBabyCenter®, the number one pregnancy and parenting digital resource, recently asked 1,400 moms about their experience with postpartum depression and found that 40% said they didn’t seek medical help for their illness. Their reasons for avoiding reaching out for help included feeling like they should or did have the strength to get over the feelings without a doctor’s help (30 percent), believing their symptoms weren’t serious enough (25 percent), or feeling too much embarrassment (24 percent) and guilt (23 percent).

 “This study revealed serious findings that need to be addressed,” says Linda Murray, BabyCenter Global Editor in Chief. “Depression is dangerous for women and their babies, and untreated depression can become worse and lead to other complications. Depression affects people from all walks of life, but new moms are particularly susceptible given the stress of becoming a parent, lack of sleep, and hormonal changes. We want moms to understand that seeking help for PPD isn’t something to be embarrassed or ashamed about; in fact, it’s one of the most important things they can do for the well-being of their babies.”

Postpartum Progress is thrilled that BabyCenter put its resources behind taking a deeper look at postpartum depression and how it affects women. It’s so important to understand the barriers that prevent moms from seeking treatment to get the help they need. It stands out to me that the results of the survey found in particular that women felt they should be able to get over PPD themselves or that their symptoms weren’t serious enough to need professional help — those are beliefs we can effectively change by raising awareness about this illness and how it can affect both mom and baby when untreated.

In response to the findings of their study and to lend support to the cause of maternal mental health, BabyCenter is now graciously allowing me to blog regularly on their site to shed additional light on PPD and remind new and expecting moms that there is no shame in feelings of anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing PPD, please know that getting treated as soon as possible is important. Please go check out my very first post on BabyCenter: Asking for Help for PPD: Failure or Fierceness?

“I can’t stress enough that PPD is treatable, but only if moms ask for help,” says psychologist Susan Bartell. “It can be hard, but moms don’t need to be afraid to seek support during this difficult time. And it’s important for moms to remember that help comes in many forms ranging from friends who simply fold your laundry to therapy.”

About BabyCenter

BabyCenter® is the voice of the 21st Century Mom® and modern motherhood. It’s the number one pregnancy and parenting digital destination worldwide, reaching more than 40 million moms monthly in 11 languages across 14 owned and operated properties from Australia to India to China. In the United States, 7 in 10 babies born last year were BabyCenter babies. BabyCenter is the world’s partner in parenting, providing moms everywhere with trusted advice from hundreds of experts around the globe, friendship with other moms like them, and support that’s remarkably right at every stage of their child’s development. BabyCenter is a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

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Minority Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion Survey

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postpartum depressionPostpartum Progress is hard at work behind the scenes to improve our support and inclusion of minority and underserved women in our community outreach and engagement. While we often feature stories on the blog from mothers of color and offering Spanish versions of the blog and nonprofit’s website are in the works, we want to go above  our current efforts to develop programs and initiatives that will reach and engage minority women both online and off, all across the country.

However, in order to do that, we first need to know what your experiences have been, and what we can do better to help you. We’ve spent the last month developing a survey that we hope will help us gain some insight into what women of color experience with their mental health during pregnancy and postpartum, levels of awareness & education on postpartum mood disorders, cultural stigma, and barriers to treatment you’ve faced.

It will help us determine what kind of support you desire and how Postpartum Progress can improve on building a community that’s inclusive.

The survey was created by our new intern Denise Carter from Emory University’s Rolllin’s School of Public Health, with input from myself based on my personal experience with PPD and anxiety. Denise is currently getting her Master of Public Health in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. She also has a Bachelor’s in social work, with minors in non-profit management and African-American studies. She has extensive experience and a passion for helping women of color care for and improve their mental health-we are thrilled to have her helping us!

The survey is 100% confidential and anonymous-your identity will not be tracked. Please feel free to answer honestly and with as much detail as possible. The more we know about your experience with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and what kind of support you need, the better we can help be an effective and valuable organization: changing the landscape of maternal healthcare locally and globally. Will you join us in this mission?

You can access the survey here: http://fluidsurveys.com/s/minority-engagement/

Questions, comments? Send them to us: addyeb@icloud.com or denise.carter02@gmail.com

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Postpartum Depression Screening is More Than Just a Questionnaire

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I was one of the lucky mothers who was screened for postpartum depression after the birth of my child. My daughter’s pediatrician administered the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to me at my daughter’s first few check-ups.

Unfortunately,Postpartum Depression Screening it wasn’t until about six weeks after my daughter was born that I started to exhibit noticeable signs of anxiety and depression and at that time I was no longer being screened at my daughter’s appointments and my OB didn’t offer any screening or questioning at the routinely scheduled six-week postpartum exam.

Even though the screening tool wasn’t what shed light on my illness and linked me to the treatment I eventually received in order to recover, I do believe the simple practice of screening made a positive impact on me.

When the pediatric nurse first handed me the short questionnaire I remember feeling surprised, but also relieved that some attention was being paid to me, the mother. It showed me that my daughter’s pediatrician recognized that my health was directly related to the health of my baby. And if she was going to adequately care for the tiny human I brought in to her, then she had to make sure I was thriving too.

Later, when I began to show symptoms of anxiety that were not within the normal range of emotions for postpartum mothers, it was my daughter’s doctor who I felt most comfortable discussing my initial concerns with. After all, she is the one who screened me and to me that meant she cared.

The fact that I was screened also removed some of the stigma I felt early on in my illness. Of course, I still felt the guilt, shame, and embarrassment that many sufferers of postpartum depression feel, but I was a little more willing to step forward and reach out because the screening helped me realize that what I was suffering from was real and I could get help.

Ultimately, I want pediatricians, OBs, and primary care doctors to know that screening for postpartum depression not only provides useful information to help the patient move forward and get treatment, but it also sends a message to that mother that she is cared for and that it’s okay to ask for help. In my case, the fact that I was screened made more of an impact on me than the screening itself.

Every mother deserves the kind of care that was provided to me and it’s time more doctors stepped up to the plate and assumed responsibility for helping mothers find their way through these miserable illnesses. My daughter’s doctor wasn’t my therapist or my psychiatrist, but by screening me she helped me realize that some of the things I was feeling were not normal and that I needed to find the right doctors to help me.

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