My Baby Is A Year Old & I Still Have Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of child birth, affecting upwards of 1 in 4 women every year. It doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone with symptoms that range from feeling isolated, sad and alone all the way to full blown rage and crippling insomnia.
While each mom’s experience with postpartum depression is different and unique to her, there are similarities that weave together our shared stories and create a common narrative that so many of us relate to.
We’re all surprised to learn that the relentless anxiety we feel, the intrusive thoughts that leave us horrified, and the heavy depression that feels like its drowning us is common.
So common in fact that it’s often brushed aside by doctors and other health care providers. Symptoms may go undetected for weeks, months and even years. Women aren’t regularly screened for postpartum depression by their doctors and are often are too afraid to mention discuss their symptoms.
How Long Until I Feel Better?
Any mom that’s struggling with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety or postpartum psychosis, will tell you that all she wants is to feel like herself again.
She wants to know how long it will be before her life is her own – and she’s back in control of her thoughts and feelings.
Unfortunately, there is no timeline that we can attach to recovery. It depends on the severity of symptoms and the type of treatment you receive.
And this is where we have a really big problem.
Access to specialized mental health care services arbitrarily stops when you’re one year postpartum. The health care system seems to think that we can wave a magic wand and suddenly postpartum depression is gone after your baby’s first birthday.
When symptoms don’t improve you’re left to wonder what’s wrong with you. It may add on additional stress and feelings of shame or failure. This only makes things more complicated!
What Can I Do to Recover Faster from Postpartum Depression?
If you’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression, and your symptoms are not improving, it’s time to ask for a second opinion.
Look for another doctor that has knowledge of mood disorders and ask for their opinion. If you’re taking medication this is an opportunity to discuss the drug(s) that you’re taking, the dosage you’re on and work with them to make any adjustments.
If you aren’t taking medication this is a critical time to consider all your options. Think about the risks vs. benefits that may have kept you from this route earlier.
Depression left untreated can quickly become a chronic, lifelong condition. It impacts not only your health and well being, but that of your children and family.
Medicated or not, look at other lifestyle factors that may be causing you additional stress. This could be things like your job or relationship with your partner. Symptoms like rage, insomnia and anxiety can also add a significant stress load to your system and prevent you from moving forward.
Consider finding a therapist (or a new one if you’ve already tried therapy) that can help you learn to manage your symptoms and process your experience. Talk therapy can be immensely helpful not only for postpartum depression, but also for anxiety. You can learn a variety of different skills to use when you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts or feelings of panic.
Evaluate your lifestyle and see if you can incorporate adjunct treatments. This includes things like regular exercise, mindfulness meditation, journaling, art, music, regular self-care time and a dedicated sleep schedule.
Where Can I Find More Support?
This brings us back to the problem of dedicated mental health support for postpartum women coming to a halt at the one year mark.
This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. There are many peer support groups that welcome any mom with postpartum depression, regardless of how old your baby is. In person support groups are a great opportunity to connect in real life, but they’re not always convenient.
You can find support online via social media with there being a number of postpartum depression and anxiety support groups. These can be helpful, but also triggering so it’s best to approach with caution.
Another option is to try the moderated maternal mental health forum on Smart Patients by clicking here. This is a safe environment that you can access anonymously and post direct questions about your experience.
Postpartum Support International has a warm-line that anyone can call to get access to additional information and support about postpartum depression and anxiety. You can reach them by calling 1-800-944-4773. You can leave a message and a volunteer in your area will then return your call as quickly as possible.
There is hope and recovery is entirely possible. Postpartum depression is not a life sentence. It can be overcome. With the right treatment, information and resources you can and will get better.