There was an announcement made the other day about the idea that pregnant women and new mothers should be screened for depression. When I read this, I loved the idea right away. 10% of new moms will have some sort of depression and I know that there isn’t always a lot of help that is offered right away. My friends who have had babies have said that the first few weeks after birth can be lonely because they are in their own bubble with the new baby. And if they are depressed and in that isolation, it can be a horrible combination.
I think we are all familiar with some of the horrible stories of when postpartum depression is undiagnosed and new mothers do something drastic like hurt themselves or their children. While screenings can’t prevent all of these incidents, they can help limit them. And knowing that everyone is being screened for depression may help take some of the stigma off of it for new moms.
I don’t have any children, but the idea of postpartum depression has been something I’ve thought about. I have been diagnosed in the past with depression (I still debate if that was the correct diagnosis or if it was really my panic/anxiety disorder being misdiagnosed). While I was being treated for depression my doctor asked me if I was on birth control. When I told her that I was she seemed relieved. I was told that the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy could be pretty bad for me and could make my depression worse. I did some research on postpartum depression and it seems like it’s manageable if diagnosed and treated. Now that I’m not sure if I’ve ever had depression I’m not as worried about it as I was before. But it will be something I bring up when I have kids in the future.
But if people aren’t too familiar with depression and have postpartum depression, they might not know that this is something that can be helped or fixed. And having this screening for new moms will help make sure that everyone is ok.
But after this new announcement, an author shared on Facebook her thoughts about it and it made me pretty mad.
This is a horrible statement to make. Being diagnosed with depression doesn’t automatically mean getting medication. When I was diagnosed with depression I didn’t get medication. I only got medication after I was diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder and then it’s only medication that I take when I need it (which isn’t often). Medication is not the only way to treat depression and in fact it’s rarely the first option.
Saying that all hormonal changes are normal will make women who are suffering from postpartum depression think that they can’t get help or that doctors will ignore their symptoms. Saying that meditation, prayer, nutrition, or love will fix it will make women who don’t see results from those things feel even worse about their depression. Sometimes you need to see a doctor, sometimes you need talk therapy, and yes sometimes you need medication.
As far as I know, none of my friends with kids have had postpartum depression. But if they did, I would have supported them in any way I can. I know that mental illness is not something that you can just wish to go way. You need to get help and there’s nothing wrong with that. And hopefully anyone affected gets the help they need and get through this. Depression is something you can overcome, even if sometimes it feels like you can never get out of the hole you feel trapped in.
If you or someone you know has postpartum depression or is struggling, please reach out and get help. Help is out there for you.