What I’d Like For You To Know: Surviving Post-Partum Depression

WhatidlikeThis edition of What I’d Like For You To Know is one that is especially close to my heart; I had my own painful struggle with post-partum depression (PPD) after the birth of my third child.  From e-mails I’ve received, I know it’s all too familiar for many of you, as well.*

Today’s guest poster is tackling this hard subject.  She’s Tara Mock of Out Of the Valley Ministries (her personal blog is Giggles-n-Gulps).  And here is what she’d like for you to know…

I laid on the floor, curled into a fetal position, in the hallway of our home.  I had given birth only eight days ago.  As I lay there with the rough carpet scratching my cheek, I knew I did not want to move – ever again.  The unending nausea and physical pain would not go away, nor the inner turmoil that was trying to convince me life could not go on like this.  I could still picture the scissors on the kitchen counter…

As hot tears poured from my swollen and tired eyes, I cried out repeatedly, "I can’t do this anymore!"  I could hear my husband in the background speaking urgently with the doctor about taking me back to the hospital.  My head was swimming.  What was I thinking, having a baby?  I could not even look at my son much less hold him, which was so heartbreaking to experience after praying for him through two and a half years of infertility.

To this day, my heart hurts when those memories cross my mind.  I was in the valley of the shadow of death and I hated that I knew exactly what that meant for me.  I was in the throes of postpartum depression.

PPD is a serious illness that affects more women than you realize.  It happened to affect me very quickly after my son’s birth, but it can affect a mom anytime within the first year after giving birth.  Postpartum mood disorders affect approximately 15% of women, regardless of whether it’s a first child or subsequent children. 

Through my journey, I learned a lot about postpartum mood disorders as well as how to help those women who come behind me suffering from them.  It is my life’s passion now to let them know they are not alone.  I share my story freely in the hopes that another woman will make it out of the valley instead of succumbing to the despair.   

What I’d like for you to know about what NOT to say:  The underlying rule of thumb in this category is to not say anything at all.  Just listen.  Here is a top ten list of what not to say:

  • "I don’t see how anyone who just had a baby can be depressed!"  (Said to me by the sales clerk when I purchased Brooke Shields’ "Down Came the Rain.")
  • "You need to have more faith."  (My faith is all I have right now and I’m hanging on to it with everything I’ve got.)
  • "You just need to pray more."  (If you think I’m not praying to even take the next breath some days, then you’d better think again.)
  • "Christians don’t get depressed."  (Oh, really?  Read Psalms, David sure did struggle a lot.)
  • "Just buck up and get over it." (Does that work for your cancer?  Your diabetes?  You try it and let me know.)
  • "It’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life!  Enjoy it!" (I’m angry that it’s supposed to be the happiest time of my life and I’m not enjoying it, but for now I am sick and do not need to hear the obvious.)
  • "You should appreciate what you have; a thousand women would die to have a baby in their arms." (We went through infertility treatments, too!  Infertility alone puts women at risk for PPD for a variety of reasons.)
  • "It’s just the baby blues."  (There is a big difference between baby blues and PPD.  See the chart here.  And its really not helpful to minimize or shrug-off what someone is going through.) 
  • "You asked for it."  (Referring to our prayers for our baby due to infertility issues.  I did not ask to go through this.  We prayed for a baby, not postpartum depression.  PPD is no respecter of persons.)
  • "You don’t need medicines for this, those are just for the crazy people."  (I believe God granted some amazing people with the gifts to create medicines that truly help people overcome and/or cope with serious illness – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, a headaches just to name a few.  If you take medicine for any of those, how is a legitimate illness such as PPD any different?  An anti-depressant helped me recover in a significant way and was a major contributor to saving my life.)

What I’d like for you to know about how to help a loved one going through PPD:

  • Listen, love, hug.
  • Practical help.   Just show up and do something.  It will be very hard for her to call and ask for help.
    Take her out for coffee, a walk or a girls’ night out.
  • Email her a Scripture-a-day or a note of encouragement.
  • Let her know she is a great mom!  Her self-confidence is shot and her sense of what is "normal" is out the window.
  • Husbands need a break, too.  Most likely, the stress and worry is taking a toll on him.  Encourage your husband or another guy to take him out for lunch.
  • Prayer!
  • You may have to be more bold in your friendship if you notice she is not herself, suspect PPD,  and need to question her and take her to the doctor yourself.  It is ok to do that, just use wisdom.

What I’d like for you to know if you are suffering from PPD: 

Please do not be ashamed of what you are going through.  This is a legitimate illness and you need medical attention and counseling if you have not already sought it out.  Talk about how you are feeling and ask for practical help with your child(ren) and around the house and don’t feel badly for it!  There is time enough later to "pay it forward" for someone else who will be hurting later.  You can find more help at Out of the Valley Ministries and Postpartum Support International.  And most importantly, you are not alone, this is NOT your fault, and you WILL get better!   

You can read more of Tara’s writing at Out Of the Valley Ministries, or at her personal blog, Giggles-n-Gulps

*I second Tara’s good advice: If you suspect you may be suffering from depression (post-partum or otherwise), I urge you, wholeheartedly, to seek medical attention right away.  If you’re too overwhelmed to seek help, find a friend you trust and ask them to help you take the next step.

79 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: Surviving Post-Partum Depression

  1. Rachel says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have seen the heartache PPD can cause – I have two friends who dealt with this, and they could not have been more different personality-wise, ethnically, or religiously. You are right: it is NO respecter of persons.
    I wish there was a magic cure for the stigma of mental illness in this country. When my sister was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and spent time in a mental hospital, our family heard SO many hurtful things. I think sometimes people say whatever comes out when they don’t know what to say. I guess the lesson here is that many times it is okay to just shut up!

  2. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    Thanks for this. There is so much myth out there about PPD (we call it PND post natal depression here) and the more awareness is raised, the less women need to feel isolated and guilty about this.
    I suffered it after my 3rd child, and although I would never have asked for it, I believe it has given me a glimpse of that dark place called depression. I try to use my experiences to support other mums.
    Thanks for another incredible post and choice of topic.

  3. Steffj89 says:

    I have dealt with varying shades of depression since I was a teen. I had massive PPD after second child. First baby had a bit, but as I was preg w/ # 2 @ the time the Dr chalked most of it up to the hormonal issues and the fact that we had a displaced family of 5 living with us in our 970 sq ft house at the time.
    I am just days/weeks from delivering # 3 and already watching myself as I can tell anxiety is climbing.
    Steff

  4. Sue McRoberts says:

    Go Tara!!! Great article, superb information. Thanks for sharing your painful story again. I LOVE your list of things not to say. I think I personally heard five or six of those. Keep on keeping on!!!!
    Sue McRoberts
    The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained Me During Postpartum Depression

  5. Mrs. Sprinkles says:

    When I couldn’t stop crying for five days straight after the birth of #2, my mom took #1 to her house and my husband took me to the doctor. I’m grateful not only that they intervened, but that I let myself be helped. SSRIs are amazing–I could not believe how fast they worked.

  6. fern says:

    Thank you so much. It is so important that we all recognize that depression (post partum or otherwise) is a medical/physical condition. No one chooses to have depression.

  7. Kelly says:

    Thank you. I’m six months pregnant with my first and, based on hormonal mood issues I’ve had before, suspect I may experience PPD. I’ll be bookmarking this post so I can come back to it in a few months, if needed.

  8. Katrina @ Callapidder Days says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I experienced PPD with my first, though for a long time I didn’t realize that’s what it was — I just thought I was horribly, horribly broken. With my second, my doctor was proactive and had me on antidepressants from shortly after the baby’s birth. What a difference! Though I was hesitant to go on medication, my husband said, “Look, if the antidepressants work, then that means there was something there to fix, right? So of course you should try them.”

  9. Missy says:

    What a wonderful post. I have struggled with depression since high school and have heard many of the “what not to says,” especially from other Christians. It makes me so angry to have my and other’s faith questioned because of a medical condition.
    For both of my pregnancies my doctors started me on antidepressants a week or two before the baby was born (and yes they were both fine, there are medications that are safe for the very end of a pregnancy), which helped keep me in the “baby blues” range. Otherwise I know I would have had a much harder time dealing with my PPD.

  10. Ericka says:

    Boy, does this bring back some incredibly painful memories.
    My hope is this may help those suffering from it right now…..
    Came to your site to get that recipe for snacks, so glad I did 🙂

  11. Sarah says:

    Tara–your article is beautiful. Thank you for sharing how your faith and prayer were instrumental in your healing (even when it felt like God was hard to access). God’s love for us doesn’t depend on our feelings, and we can be grateful for that constancy and stability.
    Feeling tremendous guilt and fear were part of my severe postpartum depression. I could not envision a future, and wondered how I’d get through the next 10 minutes. That lasted around 6 months. Medications and a loving family, and God’s love (which at the time I could not feel at all, but it was still there) got me through. The hospital let me keep my baby with me through a psychotic break, which allowed me to keep breastfeeding–and to me that was very healing and helpful.
    Since, I’ve had another baby, finished a Ph.D. that I was in the middle of at the time, started a small business, and started homeschooling my children. I’ve also learned a great deal about self-care, and about saying “no” to demands on my time, and about saying “yes” when people offer to help or to cut me some slack because my three kids are small and need me a lot.
    I mention this not to add to the pressure and competition of mommyhood, but to give hope: your dreams are still there while you’re hitting bottom. Let them rest, while you recover, and then make your list. What do you want to do with your life? What skills and gifts do you have? How can you bless others and yourself with those talents?

  12. rrmama says:

    Thank you for this weeks edition. My best friends suffered from PPD after her second child. I was the one who made her call the doctor and then go to the appointment. Only at my urging did she go and seek the help she needed. She tells me she is forever grateful I saw the signs she didn’t. Tara, thank you for sharing your journey. I know you are helping women every where! God bless you. Shannon, thank you again for another amazing story!

  13. Mama Koala says:

    Thank you for this story–it is very timely. Our neighbor and good friend was diagnosed with PPD last week, and is having an extremely rough time. We are struggling with how to help/support her and the family–and now I have some concrete ideas from someone who has been there. I sincerely appreciate it.

  14. Andrea says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is so frustrating that people put mental health in a separate, shameful category. You are helping many by being open!

  15. Lydia says:

    I agree with the others who have said this is bringing back very painful memories. Made much more painful by the fact that I’m pregnant with baby #2 and have worried that I would experience this again. With my first, I also thought something was terribly wrong with me, but never put 2 and 2 together to figure out it was PPD until much later. I’m in hopes that my doctor will also be proactive and put me on meds very soon after this baby is born. I don’t ever want to experience that again. Thank you for sharing your story as well as what not to say. Some people don’t have a filter and just say whatever may come to their mind. That certainly doesn’t help when you’re already in a depressed state.

  16. Nicole @ Here's The Diehl says:

    Thanks for such an insightful post, Tara. Though I’ve not experienced it, I have friends who have, and it’s good to know ways to support them through their rough time.
    I didn’t know, until this happened to a friend, how common it is for you to NOT have PPD with your first child, but have it with subsequent children.

  17. Brandi says:

    Thank you, Tara, for sharing your personal experience with PPD. How hard it is to go back, mentally, to a difficult time as that. I went through PPD with our #1 and pushed it off until she was 6 months old. It was the roughest time I went through! If it had not been for our pastor’s wife’s encouragement to get help I’m not sure what I would have been like! Your “what NOT to say” portion was SOOOO right on. The Lord used our situation through another friend… her sister-in-law was going through PPD and was given my email. The comfort the Lord gave me I was, thankfully, able to pass on to this other young lady.
    Thanks again for posting about this sensitive subject!
    Brandi from WA

  18. Melanie says:

    I suffered in secret. Only my husband knew. There is so much shame that goes with this- you don’t want a soul to know that you are sad after having a child. “They will think I’m crazy.”
    If you are reading this and going through it, GET HELP from your doctor. They see this more than you know. You are not crazy. You will be OK. There is light out of this darkness.

  19. MamaHenClucks says:

    This really brings tears to my eyes as I struggled with PPD and also kept it from all but my husband and my sister, who was SUCH a loving support. I talk about it now, all the time, but going through it I felt exactly all the things listed. Thanks for posting this.

  20. Donna says:

    As a person that suffers from plain old, garden variety depression all the time (as if there is such a thing) I can only imagine the fear and shame and confusion that would come along with the onset of PPD. I watched as a friend had “mild” PPD after the birth of my niece and was horrified by the things people thought and said about it.
    Much of what you said can also be said about that “garden variety” of depression also. The important thing that anyone needs to remember about depression of any kind is that there is help. There is hope. Speak to your doctor, please. Don’t suffer in silence because there is no need to suffer *at all*!

  21. Tea Party Girl says:

    I knew I was in big trouble when I slapped my kind, compassionate, patient, helping husband across the face. I remember having to PEEL myself off the bed to respond to my baby’s cries. It happened after son #2 and I never thought I’d have another, but God and others walked me through the birth of my daughter and I can’t imagine life without her (or my sons!). He redeems all things.
    Thank you for sharing your story and turning it into a ministry! I’m off to check out your link.

  22. Lynn says:

    Very well written. It seems like yesterday when we carefully watched and prayed with you and your family through these trials. Through the years, it is encouraging to see how you have allowed God to use you and heal you. Thanks for speaking out in the church arena when many were too afraid to. Love ya, Lynn

  23. HopiQ says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I also suffered PPD after the birth of our twins. I also had misconceptions and was misunderstood by many well-meaning people. It was quite the journey just to get the medical help I desperately needed, but the Lord carried me (and all of us) through that dark time. I also am thankful to have experienced depression and understand better what others are going through.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I have an 8-month old and have wondered from day one if PPD was contributing to how I feel since she was born. I just made a doctor’s appt. yesterday and I’m anxious to talk about how I’ve been feeling. Thank you for the reminder that PPD is common and treatable. This was the best article in your Thursday series.

  25. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I experienced PPD after the birth of my daughter. My wonderful husband and some very dear friends were there for me. I share my story with others so they know it’s real and that you can survive it.

  26. Alyson says:

    Thank you for sharing – I experienced this after the birth of my first & second especially, and somewhat after my third. My obgyn blew me off when I tried to ask for help – thankfully I had a family doctor that listened a little better and I was able to change obs for my third baby.

  27. Tara says:

    Tara here. I am in tears reading these comments. Thank you all so much for sharing your hearts and hugs to those of you for whom it brings up painful memories. A note to those who are pregnant and fearful of it happening again, or to those who fear having another – we made a decision to not have any more children, but God has a sense of humor and a glorious plan. The very next morning after making that decision I discovered I was pregnant. I was terrified. But we planned carefully, and all went well at birth of my daughter – she was my redemption, and I love her to pieces. I had some difficult moments, but my plan was in place and working. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about that story and need help and encouragement…just please know that I know how scared you are, but you can do this. You can have a plan, arm yourself with knowledge and prepare yourself and others to minimize any onset of PPD. Love you all, Tara

  28. JessieLeigh says:

    Thank you for such a sensitive, accurate post on a very important topic. Your list of what not to say is spot-on. I battled PPD after the birth of my second child (she was born four months early). I wrote a three-part series on the topic on my blog because it was such a monumental weight to bear. I am so grateful for the information, support, and medical advances we have today… and for other women, like you, with the courage to speak up.

  29. Shawna says:

    Thank you for this. Your description of yourself lying on the floor unable to cope described me to a tee. I distinctly remember lying on the floor in my son’s room. My mother came in and asked what I was doing, and I said “I’m lying on the floor because I’m in the lowest place I can possibly be. The only way to go is up from here.” And then I got help, and now, almost 4 years later, I am better, but I truly do not remember anything of the first 4 months of my son’s life. I wish I would’ve gotten help sooner.

  30. RLR says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing you story! I suffered from mild PPD after both of my pregnancies. It’s so important for women to share their experiences and remove the shame associated with PPD. Again, many thanks.

  31. Tree Climbing Mom says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. Add me to the long list of women who went through the valley of PPD. I felt such a sense of shame and failure during that period. Thank you for helping to lift the stigma associated with PPD.

  32. Valerie says:

    Thank you. People are so misinformed about depression in general and think they are doing you a favor by “snapping you out of it.” It destroys trust and destroys relationships. Your article made me realize that I may still need God’s help to forgive some of the spiritual leaders who spoke words of judgement and condemnation to me instead of offering help or hope.

  33. mumple says:

    I was lucky–after I had the Howler, when I hit the 3 day crying jag, I knew, my Sweetie knew…and when I called the doc’s office and said, “I had a baby 3 months ago and I can’t stop crying.” I got immediate (within two hours) help.
    I can’t imagine having stupid things said to me on top of it.
    It’s so important that women who have lived it share their stories–too many live it and suffer alone. Thank you for sharing and hopefully, making it easier for someone else to get help.

  34. mumple says:

    btw, it’s almost 7 years later, and I still cannot look at those first portraits of her taken around that time. It makes me physically ill to see them, and I want to cry all over again.
    I would remind everyone seeking help, though, to be aware of overdose symptoms–I was fine for a year on Wellbutrin, then started having WORSE symptoms because I was on it, apparently, too long. That was just as scary!
    Paying attention to our bodies is our #1 defense. Having a husband or other family member who is willing to be an advocate to ourselves and our docs when needed is #2.

  35. Joshua says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this. Many of the things you have written are so true for simply depression also. I’m not trying to minimize what you have gone through, but instead I wanted to thank you for opening up and hopefully helping other women going through this. And, you may also help men and women who have depression.
    Thank you,
    Joshua

  36. Jacqueline says:

    This one hits close to home for me as well. When I gave birth to my now two year old daughter, I was a single mother. Earlier that year I had been diagnosed with depression, but I stopped taking my medication for the duration of my pregnancy. I suffered from severe postpartum depression, and since I was alone there was no one to tell me that there might be something seriously wrong. I was so deep down that I was unable to recognize that what I was feeling was much more than just “regular” depression. On top of everything my girl had a nasty case of colic! It took eight months before I mustered up the courage to go to the psychiatrist and ask for help. My depression and anxiety were so bad at that point that it was almost physically painful to leave the house! If more people were educated about postpartum depression, maybe a friend or a coworker would have been able to realize what was wrong and help.

  37. Audrey says:

    Thank you for this awesome article! We need to get the word out about PPD. I had no support from family, friends, or even my doctor when I struggled with it, and the more people are educated, the more support and help they can provide!

  38. Princess Leia says:

    My family has a history of depression, so hubs knew to be on the lookout for PPD after the birth of our son. I seemed to have made it through just fine that time, but think that it might have been wise for me to have gotten more help than I did during the early months of my current pregnancy. There is also a possibility for “pre-natal” depression, especially with difficult pregnancies like mine has been (I only got completely off the anti-nausea drugs a few weeks ago and I’m due in just over two weeks).
    Hubs (who has ADD himself and is therefore also highly susceptible to depression) will definitely be alert to the signs again for me with baby #2. I hope that I can be as brave as many of you ladies have been in accepting the help that I know will be out there for me should I experience PPD this time around.

  39. jean says:

    After waiting for years to get pregnant and going thru a tough pregnancy, I thought the rest would be so easy. It wasn’t. I cried every single day for 4 months. My son was 18 months old before I could honestly feel any type of maternal bond. It took a long time for me to seek help. Thank you for writing this.

  40. Missy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have a friend who took her life due to this illness. My hope is that those who struggle can find help and overcome it!

  41. Nicki says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I too suffered PPD right after the birth of my son. I had previously gone through other bouts of depression, but this was so much scarier! We also went through infertility and I couldn’t believe this was my reaction to something I had wanted for so long. Your responses to others are perfect-I can’t believe how insensitive people can be and I know my own experience has helped me to be so much more compassionate. I am scared to have another baby, but feel that I have much more knowledge and the resources to deal with this!

  42. Cecy says:

    Can I add something? PLEASE help someone going through this. So many people knew I was having a hard time (when I finally could admit it out loud) and not one offered to come over, run an errand, watch my kids, bring lunch, anything. Ok, one lady from church went and had coffee with me. That was IT. Please, even send a card or call. Don’t leave someone struggling with this totally alone.

  43. SouthernRose says:

    I believe I had PPD 16 years ago after the birth of my first son, but my husband and I didn’t know it. The military moved us from Florida to California 4 months after he was born, so that probably didn’t help. My husband just thought I was mad or unhappy for the 9 months we lived there. I’m glad that mothers can identify it now and get help when they need it.

  44. Roy says:

    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. So I describe the situation where I, a guy, comment on a thread discussing PPD. Except that I may help a bunch of wonderful women (and their husbands), I’d do as Job’s first 3 friends did initially, and keep silence.
    PPD does involve significant physiological sources. We fellows do not experience anything exactly like it, with very large, sudden changes in body chemistry. One can even measure those changes by, for example, examination of blood samples. The changes of concentration of various combinations of hormones can be listed, following a general pattern even if (perhaps significantly) different in magnitude from woman to woman or even pregnancy to pregnancy. (Talk about an illustration of God-given uniqueness. Wow, each person special.) Furthermore, polls (such as many of the comments in this thread) prove those changes do effect how a woman feels and by that influence what she thinks. The results in the ‘feel’ and also in the ‘influence’ category can be listed, with an obvious correspondence to the previously mentioned list of changes in hormone concentrations.
    So PPD does have direct connections to body chemistry over which a woman has no absolute control. Anybody not taking this into account when loving and assisting a woman going thru PPD risks not only wrath, but may badly hurt a precious relationship. Realizing the size of the struggle often provides the key to aiding. It surely must help a husband attempting giving himself for his wife, making it more reasonable to exercise patience and tenderness.
    But while perhaps only women and only in this circumstance does anyone experience the magnitude of the chemical influences, PPD is not the only situation in life where either women or men face changes in body chemistry which have an immediate, direct control on how one feels and via that an influence on how one thinks.
    Women experience monthly cycles. These, some times much more significantly than other times, and sometimes regularly much more for some woman than for other women, change how a woman feels. (I don’t speak from experience, but can definitely relate testimony!) How one feels in such circumstances may certainly prove a major factor and influence on what one chooses to do, what one thinks.
    Women, and men, too, experience headaches, upset stomachs, illnesses both minor and major, all of which have measurable physiological and chemical connections. These situations also directly effect how one feels and certainly influence one’s choices and thoughts.
    What about men and women who have a lifestyle involving drugs or alcohol? These chemicals directly control how people feel and exercise powerful influence over a persons choices and thoughts.
    Further, men endure one kind of change which the “gender wars” have not yet resolved as somehow not at least partially unique to them in magnitude if not in kind. The male hormone directly effects their physiology, their physical life, in ways measureable in a laboratory. This, in turn, directly influences their thought life. (A woman reading this will have to do something similar to what I, a man, did regarding PPD: rely on testimony. Even if she, too, experiences something parallel to that which a man experiences, she will have to accept at face value male reports regarding the intensity of their experience.)
    We should not agree with a man who, after abuse of a woman, said, “My hormones made me do it. I had no control. I was no more than a spectator.” Nor would we say, “You may fantasize any way you wish. After all, you experience completely normal urges. You are controlled by your hormones.” We’d not permit a man surrender of responsibility for his thought life any more than we would responsibility for his actions.
    We should not urge a person to surrender to alcohol or drugs.
    We should not agree with a husband who snapped at his wife and never sought forgiveness, instead blaming his behavior on having had a headache.
    We should not agree with a husband who does not care enough to make appropriate adjustments in his behavior when his wife experiences the inconveniences of her period. Nor should we agree with a wife who uses that circumstance as an excuse for her serious mistreatment of her children.
    In each case, urges, drugs, headaches, monthly cycles, and PPD, the issue at stake is not whether there exist stresses, even huge stresses. Sometimes wisdom and physiological awareness direct the use of physical or chemical assistance. There is nothing wrong with that choice and often a lot very right about it. One can take aspirin for headaches. One can choose not to frequent locations which incite to lust. One can prepare in advance by taking on tasks for his wife so that she is not burdened by them at certain times of the month. One can use chemicals that help restore hormone balance. One can and should seek medical counsel in case of PPD.
    In nearly all of these circumstances (excepting a lifestyle of drugs) we have no reason to blame ourselves for the chemical results. In all of them we have no reason to think ourselves guilty for seeking medical help or asking for assistance from spouse or friends. We should seek such aid. We should agree we need help.
    But in all such circumstances we must finally admit our task is to love others more than ourselves, giving ourselves for them. That admission gives hope. It declares we are not slaves to chemicals, not even those chemicals built into us. It declares we can conquer chemicals, we can survive stresses, we can love each other.

  45. Denise says:

    Hi, I am currently going though the struggle of PPD, I have been to the doc and to counseling and have made good progress since I was originally diagnosed, but I agree, I have a hard hard time asking for and accepting help. I feel like this is all my fault and that I can’t do anything right in regards to anything, especially my son. He was a preemie, so not only am I struggling with PPD, but I am giving myself many guilt trips about getting sick and having him early.
    I am really praying this all gets better.

  46. Laura says:

    This was so well written, Tara. No matter what you call it, depression is horrible, and the thought that it may never get better is worse than horrible. I thank God for Zoloft and several friends who were willing to walk with me through several long, dark months.

  47. distybug says:

    I would just add that PPD looks different for each person. My symptoms were more isolation and no desire to do anything. I was never suicidal or felt like killing my babies, but again, it can look different for each person.
    Thanks for your honesty. If more people talked about PPD (or any other mental illness for that matter) the stigma would shink instead of grow.

  48. megan@Hold it Up to the Light says:

    Wonderful piece, and a great reminder to me. I suffered from PPD with my first child and had majority anxiety following the birth of my second child. With my 3rd baby I was a bit more prepared, and have managed to deal with it all pretty well.
    As a Labor and Delivery nurse and a Nurse Educator, I think we could do SUCH a better job at educating our patients about this VERY real disease. Thanks so much for the reminder…..it’s definitely well in my radar again!
    Praying that this post saves a life or at least vastly improves a few!!!

  49. Gego says:

    I have experienced PPD, though “back in the day” the docs just thought you were being a FEMALE.
    Thank God docs now understand, help, and don’t think a new Mom is crazy, and refer to a psychiatrist!

  50. kathy says:

    Too many misunderstand and judge too quickly. This is a real thing that so many wonderful people struggle with. It is real. And painful. I have been there. If people could open their eyes to it a little more, it wouldn’t be such taboo and would make recovery easier.

  51. Nicole says:

    Thank you. I’ve been struggling for nearly 18 months now. Alone, ashamed, embarrassed, begging for help in my own way, but never in the right way to get the help I needed. Even when I spoke to Doctors about it I was blown off. (So there is yet another tip, if one Doctor doesn’t take you seriously, find another one! Know yourself well enough to know this is serious!)
    I finally saw Doctor number 4, who is giving me the help I need. I was very leary of taking that first pill. I never thought I’d be the “type” to need anti-depressants. But that’s just the thing, there is no “type”. I’ve been on the medication for only 2 1/2 weeks now and cannot believe the difference it’s already making!!!!
    I’m only sad about how much of my children’s lives I missed in the meantime. I so wish I had gotten help sooner. I wish somebody had intervened and got me the help I needed when I was not strong enough to get help myself.
    Thank you again!

  52. Deb says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and great tips. I too suffered through PPD – after my 2nd daughter was born and have had a long and hard journey these past 3 1/2 years.
    What I would like people to know about PPD as well is this – it can happen to anyone. It is not just for those who struggle in life (single parents, poor people, etc) or those with many children (it can happen with one child or when you have 4)and if you think you don’t know anyone who has suffered from PPD I would bet money that you are wrong. When people feel confident and comfortable sharing their story they are usually met with many more people saying “me too”. Remove the shame and guilt about having PPD and we bridge the gap between mothers and find way more support than ever before. If women know how many other women suffered they would be more inclined to admit they need help. When women present a brave face or deny they need help, it actually perpetuates the idea that women should be able to do it all – including “getting over” PPD on their own.
    Thanks for addressing this issue on your blog – i for one appreciate it. I hope any woman reading this who has been avoiding getting help will know they are not alone and that they CAN feel better.

  53. Steffj89 says:

    well since reading and responding to this the first time yesterday, i have been to the dr for my 36 week appt…
    i am not a happy camper…he is threatening to put me in the hospital on total bedrest for the duration and i have had to call in reinforcements to help w/ the kids….
    C is working in Ohio which is a good 14 hour drive from here. My family is 2-4 hours away depending on what help i need…
    thankfully i have good friends and one of them took the boys for tonight so that i could be off my feet and have help lined up at least thru the weekend….
    but I did ask and got prescription for my zoloft to be refilled now…i dont think it needs to or can wait until lil one arrives as my anxiety and depression are mounting right now…
    steff

  54. Heather says:

    Tara, girl, you are amazing. I am so glad to see how God is using this experience. It sucks that you had to go through it at all, but you came through it like silver in the refiner’s fire, as I knew you would. I love you, and I am thankful to have been able to share this journey with you.

  55. Pam says:

    Thanks for this, Tara… and thanks, Shannon, for having Tara guest-post.
    I too struggled with PPD when my son was born, and it’s a very lonely and isolated feeling. I’ve wanted to have some sort of ministry to prevent and address this issue within the church, and Tara’s site could be a helpful resource!
    One thing: I’ve seen the 15% statistic before, and I’m beginning to think it’s really low.

  56. Jessica says:

    I am so glad Tara shared openly about this. I had PPD with my 2nd (but not my first) child. It did not start right away, rather, I started to get depressed at about 3 months. I had 2 friends who were feeling the same way I was, and we talked about our struggles a lot. One week into my medication, I felt like a new woman. I took a chance and asked my friends if they thought it might be depression. Both their husbands called and thanked me once their wives were on medication and doing much better! I never would have suspected I was depressed. When my doctor suggested it might be depression, I started crying because “he thinks I’m crazy.” I grudgingly agreed to “just try” the meds. I’m glad I did.

  57. Alison says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’m so glad you mentioned that it can happen up to a year after the baby’s birth, because I didn’t know that when PPD hit me hard eight months after my second child was born. In retrospect, it had probably been developing since his birth, but I didn’t know what to expect–I just thought it was “normal” to feel so exhausted, irritable, and depressed with two children. When I stopped sleeping and having panic attacks, I knew I had to get help. Thank the Lord for supportive family and friends who instinctively knew to offer me the kind of help you described.

  58. Linda Reppert says:

    Tara – you have been totally redemption in this area. You are now using a very difficult event in your life to minister for His kingdom. Your being honest approach and wit is refreshing. May this bless many!

  59. Gego says:

    I loved the suggestions for helping a Mom cope with PPD! I do have a question, though. How does one support a Mom who doesn’t tell? The thing missing for me is letting family and friends know so they can be more supportive, helpful, and loving. Not all families live close enough to support and help, especially if they don’t know.
    I KNOW I would have done some things differently to relieve some of the stress on my daughter-in-law.

  60. Deb says:

    I too suffered w/ this after my first child. My momma had a nervous breakdown in 1978 and has battled and continues to battle severe clinical depression since then. I had this family history but it still took 2 yrs for me to recognize what I was battling. It longer because of several reasons but mostly cause I didn’t recognize it at first and then when I did I tried to fix it myself w/ the praying and etc. It took a great insightful CHRISTIAN doctor who I was seeing for the very first time to finally help me see what was happening. Some folks who are suffering from depression can just work it out but others it is chemical and they need the meds. That is what happened to me I lack serniton (spelling sorry) in my brain and w/out the meds I am not the real me. So when I had my son I was off the meds during the pregnancy and had him c-section. Two days after I had him I asked my hubbie to get my meds and bring them to me. I knew I was hurting. I figured he needed a sane mommy more than he needed breast milk. (At the time there was enough research to say whether or not my meds would hurt him.) I started taking my meds, he got formula and it has all worked out.

  61. Jenny says:

    I suffered with PPD after the birth of my second son. It was horrible. I had a traumatic delivery and my son was born with complications(brachial plexus injury, lung problems and an infection). When he was taken away to another hospital 45 minutes away, I went into shock. The next day I didn’t feel anything. No emotions. When people would explain the severity of his health problems I didn’t get it. I did the bare necessities with him,but don’t remember the first 6 months of his life. I was in my own bubble. then the bubble lifted(literally after a shower one morning)and I had my emotions back. We managed through those times,but when I had my 3rd child we were prepared for the ppd. We spoke with doctor’s had a counsellor lined up, etc. etc, but didn’t have any of it.
    I pray for all women that are afflicted with it. It’s absolutely horrible.

  62. Callista says:

    I enjoyed reading this for the most part. I’ve suffered from a form of depression since I was 16 at least and so had pre-partum depression as well as post-partum depression. With my first child it happened right in the hospital, the first day. I had major anxiety attacks and didn’t want to hold or feed the baby. I had problems with the second child too although not quite as bad. I’m still in the throws of depression and other mental health problems. There is nothing worse than someone telling you to get over it or stop crying already.

  63. Tara says:

    Adding a comment to answer “Gego”‘s question above about how to support a mom who doesn’t tell…I’d really have to know more specifics about the particular situation to give concrete advice, but in general use wisdom and discernment, find the right times to encourage her to perhaps get out to a MOPS or other similar moms group, exercise (suggest walks at the mall or in the neighborhood), and encourage her to confide in a friend about what is going on. More women than she realizes has dealt with this. You can go to http://www.postpartum.net and look at the support group resources or contact the coordinator for the area she lives in – there may be a PPD support group she can attend.
    Each woman has their own comfort level about how much to tell and I respect that, certainly, but I do think its important to share it with someone, and if possible, another mom who has been there – someone who can support and encourage her, tell her she’s going to get through this and that she is a GREAT mom. Most of all, please make sure she has seen a doctor and counselor about this, that is an important step.
    Feel free, Gego, to email me if you want to talk more about your specific situation. You can also check out http://www.outofthevalley.org website and the blog there – I have a couple of detailed posts/articles about how to encourage and help moms who are hurting. And really, do email me if you want to. I’m happy to help. Hope that helps! -Tara

  64. Karen Putz / DeafMom says:

    PPD came to visit shortly after my second child was born. The doc just brushed it off as the “baby blues.” You’ll get over it, he said. Yeah, it took months. I always keep an eye out on my friends after they’ve had a kiddo because I sure could have used a friend reaching out to me back then instead of battling it alone.

  65. ashley says:

    Great info! Just to share though, I have recently suffered from severe anxiety/panic attacks, to the point of not feeling like I could function. My baby is almost two so I don’t think it’s PDD, but anyway, I did go to the doctor and start an SSRI and within four days, the anxiety had eased, but I was SO depressed I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, let alone take care of my kids.
    Apparently this is one of the possible adverse reactions to these drugs and my doctor took me off of them immediately. I know the drugs work great for some people, but I just thought people should be aware to watch for this kind of thing; I know it’s rare but it can be really dangerous.
    Thankfully, I was able to go to a naturopath who put me on a homeopathic remedy that has helped tremendously. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone (for one thing it’s kind of expensive and insurance definitely doesn’t cover it), but because the normal drugs wouldn’t work for me, this was a very helpful alterantive.

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