My mother had a history of bipolar illness, that is the reason why my doctor advised me to undergo therapy to be able to handle the possibility of having mood swings right after or weeks after giving birth.
My mother committed suicide months after giving birth to me. My father said she was a very kindhearted and remarkable person and wife. He is sure that if she survived her depression, she would have been the best, loving, and most caring mom a child would want to have. It is saddening that I never came to know her, feel her warm embrace, and hear her laugh as we lost her to postpartum depression.
“The causes of PPD are many, and can include hormonal and lifestyle changes, a lack of social support, sleep deprivation, a high-risk pregnancy, a traumatic birth or difficult recovery, or breastfeeding problems,” wrote Meri Levy, LMFT, PMH-C.
Postpartum Depression Leading To Suicide
Excited expectant mothers immediately start reading books and blogs about pregnancy, attend Lamaze classes, and prepare themselves for the physical changes expected to happen. They spend most of their time learning about how to be moms, how to go back to their ideal weight after giving birth. However, very few women focus on their mental health issues and how these could affect both the mother and the baby’s health. It is maybe one reason why many new mothers experience postpartum depression, but very few are aware that they have it and still very few seek effective treatment.
“PPD can happen to any new mother. A new mom can have all kinds of positive support and still feel hopeless and scared. Even with attentive helpers, PPD can lead to overwhelming guilt and anxiety,” shared Robyn E. Brickel, MA, LMFT.
Untreated mental illness is one of the significant causes of death by suicide in the U.S., postpartum depression included. PPD does not only put your baby in danger but yourself, too, when it develops into postpartum psychosis.
“Women who have a history of bipolar, or develop it in the postpartum period, are at particularly high risk for suicide and/or psychosis,” wrote Crystal Clancy, MA, LMFT.
Involve Your Husband
Your husband may be unfamiliar and unaware of your struggle, but with the help of a therapist, he may understand your ordeal and may help with your burden to lessen your stress. A mother with multiple children plus a husband who is unaware of her condition is the one more prone to developing postpartum psychosis. Your husband is your partner and should be your support for whatever it is you are going through.
Help him help you, and don’t be quick to anger when he does not know what to do to. Instead, give him some tips and instructions on what he should do in case you are having an episode.
Indeed, anything that can help a woman decrease her risk of developing postpartum psychosis is positive, and that includes your husband’s support and understanding.
Find Out If You Have PPD
If you think you have PPD or a history in your family, like I do who has a mother with PPD, see your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider could be your doctor who delivered your baby, your family practice doctor, or a midwife. It can also be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist.
Your healthcare provider will ask questions about how you feel and how these feelings might hamper you from taking care of your baby and yourself. He may also do some tests to see if you have other problems that may lead to the development of PPD.
I did undergo therapy as advised by my healthcare provider, filled out depression screening questionnaires, had my thyroid hormones checked, and had a continuous session with my therapist. Having undergone these processes makes me confident that I am fit to take care of my baby. I had my mood swings, but I made sure to inform those people around me, especially my husband, whenever I feel like I’m becoming not me.
It is not a disgrace to ask for help especially if what is at stake is your family’s welfare. Therapy after giving birth should not be considered as something intrusive but enlightening to the scared moms to face their illness and fight it by receiving professional help.