Postpartum Depression — Get the Support You Deserve
Having a baby is a joyous occasion, but it doesn’t always feel like it. You’ve probably heard the term “postpartum depression” — more accurately called perinatal depression and anxiety — but you might not realize how common it is. At least one in seven new moms will experience the condition, and 60% of the time it starts before or during pregnancy.
There’s no easy fix to this mixture of complicated emotions, but a support group can help you through the challenging transition. Theresa Heneghan, Program Manager of Integrated Behavioral Health at Community, has tips for new or expectant moms who are struggling with perinatal depression and anxiety.
What Does Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Feel Like?
Most new moms go through a period of “baby blues.” Giving birth can cause big changes in your hormonal balance, and mood changes are common for a week or two after having a baby. But if that feeling goes on for longer, it might be a sign that you have perinatal depression and anxiety.
These are common conditions, even if you’ve had kids before. They carry a laundry list of symptoms: you might feel sad or hopeless, you might doubt your ability as a mother, or you might even have extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Overall, you probably just don’t feel like yourself.
“Women with perinatal depression and anxiety often struggle with feelings of guilt,” says Heneghan. You might be ashamed that you’re having a hard time bonding with your baby, or coping with the demands of motherhood. You might even feel embarrassed when you compare yourself to another mom’s experience. It’s natural to think “I should be happy. My friend was so excited when she had her baby!” — but it’s not a helpful line of reasoning.
What Causes Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?
You might be predisposed to perinatal depression and anxiety for any number of reasons. If you have a history of depression or anxiety, you recently stopped taking medication or you don’t have a lot of social support, you might be at higher risk. Environmental factors can be a factor, too.
“Having a baby is always a challenge, but it’s particularly challenging right now.” says Heneghan. “The COVID-19 pandemic might make you feel afraid or unsafe. You probably feel isolated from your family and your support group might not be accessible. You’re dealing with a lot right now as it is, and a new baby is just one more thing to worry about.”
“If you’re giving birth during COVID-19, be gentle with yourself,” says Heneghan. “You might be grieving the fact that you’ve lost a ‘normal’ experience giving birth or bonding with your newborn because of the pandemic. Those feelings are very real and valid.”
In short, a lot can contribute to depression and anxiety after giving birth. It’s a natural struggle for many new moms, but you’re not alone in facing it.
Find Your Postpartum Support Group
A great way to get support is to talk to people just like you. Our Virtual Perinatal Support Groups meet twice a week for about 45 minutes each, and offer you a chance to meet other new moms who are also struggling with mood changes or the transition to parenthood.
Our support groups are safe, confidential spaces led by Community’s behavioral health consultants. They’re an open forum to discuss any feelings of sadness, frustration or difficulty adjusting to your life as a new mom. You’ll hear from other women, learn coping skills and self-care strategies, and talk about experiences of your own if you’d like to share.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up!” Heneghan urges. “The women in these groups are probably thinking just what you’re thinking, and want to ask the same questions. Talking about the joys and challenges of motherhood can make it feel more normal. We can all learn from one another’s experiences.”
Sessions are free to attend, even if you aren’t a Community patient. You don’t even have to worry about registering — just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to join:
Tuesdays at 11am hosted by Rebekah Jensen, LCSW
- Pregnant and postpartum women welcome
- For more information: 317-621-7998
Thursdays at 1pm hosted by Kelli Riley, LCSW
- Postpartum (up to 1 year) women welcome
- For more information: 765-289-5709
You don’t have to face it alone. No matter where you live or where you get care, we hope you’ll join us for our Virtual Perinatal Support Groups.