WHAT A TIME TO HAVE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Now I’m not saying suffering through postpartum depression is a walk in the park these days by any means, but I think we’ve come a long way as far as treatment goes. I came out to everyone with my postpartum depression story via Facebook a little more than a year ago and was met with an overwhelmingly supportive response. I wasn’t sharing my story to gain support, but rather to help mothers out there who were suffering alone in silence. I wanted them to know that treatment is out there and recovery is possible. My heart felt so warm seeing how many women had my back, and women even began revealing they too had struggled with PPD. But the one comment that stuck with me the most was that of a Facebook friend who was much older than me. She said she too had faced the demons of PPD, but during that time, she didn’t have much support. There was a lack of understanding surrounding the disease and it was frowned upon to even speak about mental health. It had never occurred to me until that moment that my suffering could have been so much worse. I immediately felt grateful for my family, friends, and all the wonderful medical professionals who helped me through the recovery process. Even though we have a long ways to go in treating maternal mental health disorders, I think right now is the best time to go through it, should you absolutely have to. Here are a few reasons why I think so.
1. It’s No Longer Taboo To Speak About Mental Health
Before the new millennium, it wasn’t as widely accepted to talk about mental health, let alone mental health disorders. People often suffered in silence, scared to even seek treatment from medical professionals. Now, we’re encouraged to discuss mental health in an effort to end the stigma surrounding it. Celebrities have come forward countless times to discuss their long-time struggles with depression, anxiety, or addiction. More and more, we are seeing everyday people share their story and discuss it more leisurely. It’s now a wonderful time to be honest with one another, because we can all agree mental health is just as serious as physical health.
2. Therapists are More Trained for Dealing With Maternal Mental Illnesses Now
Certifications and training programs are now more readily available for therapists and counselors to participate in to prepare for maternal mental health cases. These certifications and trainings focus on the symptoms and treatment of illnesses like postpartum depression. Instead of assuming the mother is neglecting her child, these professionals are skilled enough to differentiate the difference between neglect and postpartum depression. Therapists can offer helpful tips and skills to cope with the symptoms of PPD.
3. Taking Medications for Mental Health Is Widely Accepted and Effective
Before, medications were really only accepted for popular consumption for physical illnesses, like diabetes or asthma. Now, more and more people feel comfortable taking medications for their mental illness, like anxiety or depression. As many as 1 in 6 Americans take a form of psychiatric drugs, such as antidepressants. About 60% of people respond by about two months to the drugs they are taking. For me, medications were my saving grace, settling my anxiety so I could finally eat and sleep.
4. Medications are Now Being Released Specifically for PPD
The FDA approved the first drug ever specifically created to treat women with postpartum depression earlier this year. The drug is administered intravenously and is expected to provide relief within 48 hours. Although expensive, this is a huge stride in the development of maternal mental health drugs. Other oral medications typically take weeks to kick in. An intravenous drug means that a woman can walk in with symptoms of postpartum depression and walk out relieved of those symptoms.
5. Non-Profits are Popping Up Everywhere with Helpful Resources
As more women suffer from this illness, more and more resources are becoming widely available, like non-profits that offer free services, such as support groups. Here in Corpus Christi, the Corpus Christi Maternal Mental Health Coalition provides support group sessions every month and other events, like walks and mixers, to bring awareness to the illness. Women can connect with other women facing similar obstacles to share their stories and offer support.
6. Social Media Allows for Sharing Of Our Stories
With so much sharing on social media, people are becoming comfortable enough to even share their struggles online. Celebrities, like Christine Teigen, are sharing their stories with fans to show that even those who seem to have it all can fall victim to mental health illnesses. Reading other women’s stories helped me cope and encouraged me to keep fighting. There are even groups on Facebook dedicated to women with PPD, so that women can meet one another and inspire one another. Now, more than ever, women with PPD can be connected online through various social media outlets.
7. Hospitals are Trained in Treating PPD
You now don’t have to worry about getting shock therapy or a lobotomy as treatment for your depression. Understanding of PPD has come a long way, and behavioral hospitals utilize a variety of methods for treatment, such as group therapy, medications, and exercise. While hospitalized, I really felt like the medical professionals understood me and were there to help me. They encouraged me to fight and that recovery was a short ways away.
8. Healthcare Professionals are More Vigilant Now
Screenings for postpartum depression weren’t always readily done in the past. Now, screenings are usually done prior to discharge after giving birth, at the 6-week postpartum checkup, or sometimes even during pediatric visits. Healthcare professionals are now more aware of the dangers postpartum depression can pose and are actively monitoring their patients for any symptoms.
Even though society has made significant strides in recognizing and treating postpartum depression, we can always do more. Although right now is a great time to be treated for PPD, it can only get better from here on out, or at least it should. Screening can be done more on certain populations, like NICU-mothers, to make sure more high-risk women are evaluated. More non-profits can be established to help low-income mothers with PPD. The ways we can help fight maternal mental health illnesses is endless, and we should never stop fighting.