11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Postpartum depression symptoms can be triggered by different factors, making the recovery process much longer than it needs to be.

With a proper treatment plan, postpartum depression can go into remission.  But postpartum depression triggers are internal or environment factors that can cause symptoms to flare up again. These can continue to affect mothers for years after the postpartum period. 

It can be frustrating to battle symptoms of postpartum depression for years, and it might even feel like it will never go away.  Identifying your specific triggers can help you to avoid them, which means you’ll be less likely to experience a postpartum depression relapse.

Here are some of the most common postpartum depression triggers to watch out for.
11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
11 Postpartum Depression Triggers and How to Avoid Them 11 Postpartum Depression Triggers

Sleep Deprivation

Our brains need sleep and there isn’t an acceptable substitution for it.  No amount of caffeine, medications, diet changes or exercise can replicate what sleep does for our bodies.  If our brains don’t get the chance to reset each night, they don’t function very well during the day.

Sleep deprivation is an especially big factor for postpartum moms.  Babies have much shorter sleep cycles than adults do.  This means that a mother’s brain isn’t getting the chance to fully “reboot” because it’s constantly being interrupted by a hungry baby.  So it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation is one of the most common postpartum depression triggers. 

In order to get the most undisturbed sleep possible, enlist the help of your spouse, a family member or hire a postpartum doula for a night shift or two.  You may also want to work on getting your baby into a good sleep routine, which can help you avoid sleep deprivation in the long run. 

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is another one of the more common postpartum depression triggers.  In fact, many mothers report feeling more stressed about breastfeeding than they did about labor and delivery.  Breastfeeding can be a struggle and it can cause pain, frustration, shame and embarrassment.

Mothers who struggle with breastfeeding can feel guilty, unworthy, judged  or end up feeling resentful and full of regret. All of these feelings certainly contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression.  But some mothers found that breastfeeding eased their symptoms and helped them to bond with their babies.  Each woman’s experience is so different, but if this is a trigger for you, know that you are not alone.

Education can be key to successful breastfeeding.  While it’s promoted as “all-natural,” it doesn’t come naturally to the majority of mothers.  Consider hiring a lactation consultant, or take an online breastfeeding course from home.  If all else fails, know that it’s perfectly okay to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula for the sake of your mental health. 

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?
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Pain

When we think of pregnancy and childbirth, we associate it with some form of pain.  This is often thought of as a rite of passage and many mothers spend a lot of time preparing for it.  But in some cases, the pain of childbirth can trigger unexpected feelings and suppressed memories. 

A painful delivery or recovery can be one of the first postpartum depression triggers, but pain is a trigger that can linger long after the recovery period.  When we experience pain in another form, such as menstrual cramping, back pain or migraines, it can trigger the symptoms of postpartum depression again.

This trigger can be especially difficult to avoid due to the fact that pain comes in so many different forms.  Identifying that pain is a trigger is a good first step.  Experiment with different pain treatment options and try to deal with the root cause of any chronic pain, in order to avoid being triggered long term.

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Weight Fluctuations

The weight issue is another trigger that affects expectant and new mothers.  During pregnancy, a woman can gain 20 – 40 lbs in the span of 9 months.  And then immediately following childbirth, her body can look unrecognizable.  There will be pressure to lose all the extra weight as fast as possible.  She may also have to deal with a c-section scar, stretch marks, loose skin and sagging breasts.  

These weight and body changes can have a significant effect on our mental health.  Even if body image was not an issue for us prior to becoming a mother, postpartum depression can take a hit on our self esteem

While maintaining a healthy weight is important, embracing our new bodies is equally as important to keep weight changes from triggering postpartum depression symptoms.  

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Hormonal Imbalances

The fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy and in the postpartum period are completely normal.  They are responsible for the extreme mood swings, weepiness and other symptoms referred to as “the baby blues.”  It’s not unusual for hormones to also take all the blame when it comes to postpartum depression, however we know that there’s much more to it than that.  

Certain hormonal imbalances can be postpartum depression triggers.  Some women find their symptoms are triggered upon the return of their menstrual cycle or with another pregnancy.  Certain illnesses can also cause hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid problems or diabetes

There are plenty of natural ways to keep your hormone levels balanced to avoid a postpartum depression relapse, but always speak to your doctor first to identify the cause of the imbalance and come up with the right treatment plan. 

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Relationship Problems

Marriage and relationship problems can begin or get worse following the birth of a child and they are a major cause of stress and anxiety for both parents.  Postpartum mothers are extra sensitive, irritable and sometimes prone to rage.  They can be extremely difficult to communicate and reason with.

In addition to the lack of communication and mood swings, it can be really difficult to open up about all of these scary thoughts and feelings.  Instead, women tend to shut down, retreat away from their spouses, and have difficulty with intimacy.  

Despite how hard it might be, try your best to talk to your loved one about what you’re feeling.  Getting an official diagnosis may help you both to understand what’s going on.  Couples therapy is also a good option to help break down the barriers.

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Grief/Loss

Grief is a major depression trigger that can affect postpartum moms.  Pregnancy and welcoming a new baby are symbolized by joy, happiness and new life.  It can be shocking when these actions cause an opposite effect, but sometimes they do.  

A mother who previously suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of a child may be triggered by grief upon giving birth to a healthy baby.  Postpartum depression symptoms may also be triggered when a woman thinks of someone who previously passed away and isn’t present to meet their child.

Grief is a part of life and there’s really no avoiding it.  If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one, talk about them openly.  Talk to your baby about them, look at an album full of pictures or share stories about them.  Try not to keep all that pain inside, and instead, memorialize the ones you have loved and lost. 

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Holidays/Anniversaries

Special occasions can actually be quite difficult for a mother with postpartum depression.  Certain dates or holidays might stir up traumatic memories that are postpartum depression triggers.  Plus, social anxiety and the desire to withdraw from conversation are common symptoms of postpartum depression. This makes it very hard to get together in large crowds, even if they are all people whom you love. 

As these dates approach, try to be proactive about your condition.  Take the day off work, scale down the festivities or plan a vacation instead.  Changing your memories about that day might be hard, but not impossible.

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Weather

Cold weather and rainy days can make anyone feel depressed but it’s much deeper than that.  Depression thrives when a person feels isolated.  And there’s nothing better at keeping a mom with a new baby locked up indoors than some bad weather.  Hot weather can also encourage a new or expecting mother to seek out the cool air conditioning instead of a muggy back yard.

All this time spent indoors can deprive a mother of enough fresh air and sunshine.  Combined with the other effects of seasonal affective disorder, the weather changes should never be underestimated as postpartum depression triggers.

Keeping a journal or mood tracker can help to identify if your postpartum depression symptoms are being triggered by the weather.  If they are, then there are several easy therapies and common practices you can do to help avoid it.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Treat It
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Financial Stress

Money problems are high on the list of depression triggers.  For parents, adjusting to the financial strain of adding a baby to the budget can be difficult.  In addition to the cost of diapers and daycare, a mother has to battle with the financial stress of staying at home instead of working – or feeling guilty for working instead of being home with baby.

Changes in finances are just one of the many overwhelming adjustments that a new mother will need to make, and it can be a big trigger for postpartum depression. 

One of the best ways to avoid this is to prepare for the financial stress prior to giving birth.  Meet with a financial advisor and make a plan for the future.  To save some money, research which baby products are worth investing in, and which ones you can probably do without.  And most importantly, stick to a budget to keep financial stress under control.

The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)
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Changes in Treatment

To help fight all of these different postpartum depression triggers there are several different treatment options available.  The variety of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications available means that you should be able to find one that works well for you, even if you have to try out a few first.  

But beware when making changes to your treatment plan.  Sudden changes to any of your medications can trigger symptoms of postpartum depression again.  The same goes for stopping therapy sessions or another supplemental form of treatment.

Consider weaning yourself off slowly instead.  If you plan on switching to a different medication, slowly wean off of the first one and gradually begin the second one.  Obviously, speak to your doctor about any and all changes in your treatment plan.  And make sure to be open about the symptoms you are experiencing, so that you can find the treatment that works for you.


Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: What Is The Connection?

There seems to be a significant connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Many women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression also report trouble breastfeeding.  Their struggles include latching problems, not producing enough breast milk, or an overall aversion to breastfeeding in general.  With this being such a common concern, it seems there must be a connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

A connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression is not an easy one to decipher, however.  It’s likely caused by a number of different factors, both physical and psychological.  And the fact that postpartum depression also affects women who have no issues breastfeeding makes it even more complicated to figure out. 

Let’s dig deeper into the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression - What is the Connection?

The “Unnaturalness” of Breastfeeding

The only thing that’s natural about breastfeeding is that it feels so completely unnatural. It may have been natural hundreds of years ago, when people lived more closely among animals and watched them raise their young.  In the days when daily life consisted of fetching well water and hunting for food, breastfeeding was the norm.  But modern civilization has taken the “naturalness” out of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression Infographic
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Breastfeeding exposes a woman, making her feel vulnerable and embarrassed.  Most women have never walked around bare-breasted before.  And now, suddenly, other people are inspecting and staring at her breasts, even grabbing them like hamburgers.  Plus, there’s the added feature of getting used to another human being sucking away on them in a completely asexual way.

But instead of admitting that breastfeeding feels unnatural, the message mothers are given about breastfeeding is that it’s what’s best for her baby, that it’s completely natural and instinctual, and that if she’s doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt.  Perhaps the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression stems from the gross misinformation that new mothers are given.

some truths about breastfeeding:

It’s painful.  Yes, even when you’ve got a proper latch, it can still hurt.

It doesn’t happen instinctively.  Babies will root around, looking for a nipple, but the majority of them don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

It’s embarrassing. And others will make you feel guilty for being embarrassed and say insensitive things like “we’ve seen it all before.”

It’s annoying.  Newborns eat often and can suck for a long time.  Having to feed a baby on demand means you barely have time to do anything else, let’s not even talk about pumping.

It gets easier? Yeah, sure, once you get the latch figured out, it might seem like things are going smoothly.  Until you have a 6 month old who likes to shove their feet in your mouth, pull your hair and scratch your chest while they nurse.

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The Guilt of Not Breastfeeding

Despite all of this, the majority of mothers will attempt to breastfeed their child because “breast is best” and what kind of mother would they be if they didn’t at least try to give their child the best?  This overwhelming pressure on mothers most definitely plays a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

Contrary to (un)popular belief, mothers don’t just give up breastfeeding because it’s too hard.  They usually seek help from a professional, try supplements to increase their supply, pump day and night and do everything else in their power, which often causes a severe amount of stress, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness.  

A mother who is unable to breastfeed, regardless of the reason, will feel guilty for not doing it, despite the fact that it is not her fault.  She may even be embarrassed to admit to other mothers that she is not breastfeeding for fear of being judged.

Connection Between Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression
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Stress Inhibits Breastfeeding

All of these misconceptions about breastfeeding can set a new mother up for failure. Instead of experiencing something she hoped would be beautiful and natural, she feels frustrated and stressed out.  Stress then inhibits breast milk production, and not producing enough breast milk stresses a mother out even more.  So it becomes nothing but a vicious cycle.

We know that stress can cause all kinds of symptoms in our bodies, both mentally and physically.  Stress leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor eating habits, weight gain or loss, neck and back pain, headaches, depression and more.  So it’s no wonder that stress is the primary culprit in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public may be legal, but that doesn’t make it any less awkward for a new mother who is already feeling exposed and vulnerable.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of women being shamed for breastfeeding in public.  While we applaud those who do stand up for themselves, that level of courage is not in all of us.

Even if we are never actually confronted about public breastfeeding, we often take additional measures to prevent it from making those around us uncomfortable.  This comes at the cost of our own comfort, and that of our baby, usually resulting in an unsuccessful public breastfeeding experience.  Therefore, the mere thought of having to breastfeed a screaming, hungry baby in a public place can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. 

A new mother struggling to breastfeed may avoid spending time outside of the house for this reason.  Eventually, this feeling of being trapped in the house can have an effect on a mother’s mental health and the longer it persists, the more dangerous it becomes.

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Breastfeeding with D-MER

If you’re not familiar with the breastfeeding condition known as D-MER (Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex) you can read about in this post.  D-MER can cause a mother to have an overall aversion to breastfeeding and develop negative thoughts and feelings towards it.  While D-MER is a physiological response as opposed to a psychological one, I believe that it can play a part in the connection between breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

For a mother with undiagnosed D-MER, she may associate extremely negative thoughts and feelings towards breastfeeding, which could transfer over into negative thoughts towards herself or her baby.  This constant weight of negativity creates an environment where mental illness thrives.

It’s important for mothers who have negative feelings while breastfeeding to speak up about them and seek help.  It could be D-MER or it could be postpartum depression.  Either way, help and information are available.

D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad
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Ultimately, a lot of different things can affect a breastfeeding mother and prevent her from being successful at it. If breastfeeding is causing you to feel stressed, anxious, vulnerable, embarrassed, ashamed or creating a negative experience altogether, then it’s worth weighing the risks and benefits.  While there are so many wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers, forcing yourself to breastfeed at the cost of your mental health is not worth it.


This is Why I’m Not Excited About The Postpartum Depression Drug

The new postpartum depression drug, Brexanolone (a.k.a Zulresso) is a huge step forward for maternal mental health care, so why am I not more excited?

Recently, Sage Therapeutics announced the release of a new drug designed specifically to treat postpartum depression and the maternal mental health community jumped for joy.  The drug is due to be available in June of this year, making it the first and only one of it’s kind. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think this is incredible forward progress for maternal mental health and commend all those who put so much effort into creating it.  But after researching more about this postpartum depression drug, I have to admit that I am not nearly as excited as I was when I first heard about it. 

Here’s some more information about the new postpartum depression drug.
The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)
This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

It takes 60 hours to administer.

That’s two and a half days.  For a mother with children who are a bit older – that might sound like a welcome vacation.  But for a women who has recently given birth?  Not so much.  Since the postpartum depression drug is recommended in the first 6 months postpartum, spending two and half days away from a new baby can be a difficult task to pull off. 

The good news is that Brexanolone (Zulresso) can work within 48 hours, so if you are able to manage the time away, then it could be worth it.


It can only be administered in a hospital setting.

The postpartum depression drug is given via an IV, which means that a woman will need to stay in the hospital for the full 60 hours and possibly longer if she experiences any adverse side effects.  Considering that the US only has one perinatal psychiatry inpatient unit (a.k.a. mother and baby unit) in the entire country, this means that a woman will need to be separated from her newborn baby for an extended period of time.  The hospital stay is necessary because a woman receiving the drug can suffer from such side effects as suicidal ideation or a loss of consciousness and therefore would need to be closely monitored.  

This could be a major setback for a mother who may have had a traumatic hospital delivery that triggered her postpartum depression to begin with.


It’s expensive.

The price range for the new postpartum depression drug is between $25,000 to $35,000.  And that’s not including the cost of the hospital stay for 2 – 3 days (or possible income loss and childcare cost during those days).  For a family with accumulating medical bills after the labor and delivery, this is another burden on top of all of that. Even with a great insurance plan, Brexanolone (Zulresso) is such a new drug that you’d have to make sure it’s covered by your insurance, which is yet another hurdle to overcome.

The high price tag and insurance red tape make the postpartum depression drug seem inaccessible to the vast majority of suffering women.


It can obstruct breastfeeding.

The postpartum depression drug has not been tested in breastfeeding mothers, however it is confirmed that the drug does pass through breastmilk.  It’s likely that, until further testing is done, mothers who choose to take the postpartum depression drug will be discouraged from breastfeeding. 

This is just a temporary situation, as mothers can pump and dump while being administered the drug in order to keep up their supply.  But time away from a newborn baby before breastfeeding has been properly established can have a big impact on the overall success of breastfeeding in the long run.

For a mother who is already overwhelmed by the pressure to breastfeed, this can cause an added amount of guilt and regret.

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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It hasn’t been extensively tested.

The clinical trials for the postpartum depression drug was run on a group of less than 250 women.  Considering what we know about the different symptoms and ways that postpartum depression manifests, it just doesn’t seem like enough.  In addition to the low number of women in the trial, there was only a slight difference in the effects felt by the women who received the dose of Brexanolone (Zulresso) versus the women who received the placebo.  Read more details on the trials here.

It’s great that the drug trials were conducted in such a timely manner, but it leaves me to wonder if there isn’t something they’ve missed.


It can discourage other forms of care.

A drug specifically to treat postpartum depression is not a cure for postpartum depression.  I feel like a lot of people will be confused by that.  Just like all other forms of treatment, certain things work for different people.  In addition to medication, therapy is also important to help avoid relapses and tackle the root cause of the symptoms.  And let’s not forget about the importance of self-care.

As of right now, Brexanolone (Zulresso) has only been tested in single doses and the women who participated in the study haven’t experienced a relapse of symptoms.  So there’s no evidence available yet on the long term effect of the postpartum depression drug.

While the news of this new drug is fantastic, it’s not the one and only solution.

Postpartum Depression Self Care
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It first requires diagnosis.

Before a woman can even receive the postpartum depression drug, she needs to get a proper diagnosis.  This is one of the biggest problems surrounding postpartum depression and should be where our focus lies.  The screening process for maternal mental illness is not nearly thorough enough.  And too many women slip through the cracks because their symptoms are not being taken seriously. 

So while a new treatment option for postpartum depression is wonderful news, it also shines a light on all the other places where our medical system is currently failing new mothers. 


The postpartum depression drug is just one step.

Obviously, I am excited that progress is being made in the field of maternal mental health.  Brexanolone (Zulresso) is hopefully the first in a long line of treatment options and better care for women with postpartum depression.  While we may not be able to walk into our local pharmacy and buy a bottle of the magic postpartum depression elixir to cure all that ails us – it’s still a step in the right direction.  And I look forward to a future where maternal mental health care is a top priority.

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Additional Resources

  • A Primer on Brexanolone (Zulresso) for Postpartum Depression womensmentalhealth.org
  • With First-Ever Postpartum Depression Drug, Progress May Not Equal Access rewire.news
  • Brexanolone (Zulresso) Press Release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA.gov
  • Information about the dosage and side effects of Zulresso Drugs.com 

The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso) The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)

One Year Postpartum and Still Depressed?

How long does postpartum depression last?

Seven years.  That’s how long I have personally battled postpartum depression.  I’ve tried all kinds of different treatment options over the years and it regularly fluctuates between better and worse.  There was a time in my life when I thought I was cured.  But now I know better.  I know that it will never go away.  I have accepted that managing my mental health is going to be a lifelong journey.

Yes, postpartum depression can last longer than a year or more.  Here’s what you need to know.
One Year Postpartum & Still Depressed
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Postpartum depression is a form of a major depressive disorder that happens to women after they give birth. Something along the journey into motherhood triggers the brain to revert into a depressive state.  Sometimes the cause is obvious, such as a difficult labor or a history of trauma, abuse or mental illness.  In other cases, the cause lies much deeper and is harder to pinpoint.  Regardless of the cause, a mental illness has now been triggered and that means it’s here to stay. While similar in symptoms, there are a few differences between depression and postpartum depression.

Hormones have a lot to do with it. 

Creating a life is unlike any other event in the world. Women’s bodies go through immense changes that we can’t even begin to understand.  We’re all too familiar with the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, causing an expectant mother to feel everything from uncontrollable weepiness to pure rage.  After giving birth, those hormones now have to work overtime to regulate themselves and it’s not an easy process.

The majority of women will experience some form of the baby blues, which is not a mental health disorder, but rather a normal response to the hormonal and environmental changes.  It’s easy to blame all these new and scary feelings on the baby blues, but those only last for a couple weeks.  Postpartum depression can begin anytime in the year after giving birth, and long after hormone levels have regulated.

6 Warning Signs That it's More Than The Baby Blues
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Depression can be triggered by trauma.

In addition to those 9 months of changes, there is the trauma of childbirth. No matter what your labor and delivery story was like, it was traumatic on your body.  Like a soldier going to war, you will come out of it a changed person.  For some, their body adjusts to the trauma and they are able to move on, at least to some degree.  For others, however, the trauma leaves it’s mark.

Bear in mind that what is considered traumatic to you, may not be considered traumatic to others.  Just because you had a smooth delivery without any major problems doesn’t mean you’ve escaped unscathed.  Birth has a way of uncovering deep feelings and vulnerabilities that we didn’t even know we had.  Speaking to a therapist or using cognitive behavior therapy can help to discover the root cause of your postpartum depression.

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Maternal postpartum care sucks.

There is no elegant way to put this, it just plain sucks.  A lot of emphasis is put on prenatal care, but not nearly enough on postpartum care.  Once a mother becomes pregnant, she is seen by a doctor monthly, then bi-weekly, weekly and sometimes even daily until she gives birth.  Then there is a whole lot of commotion surrounding the birth and the 3 or so days afterwards.  

And then she is sent home with a follow up appointment for 6 weeks later.  She’ll have to haul that baby in to get checked out on the regular, but now that the baby is on the outside, her body doesn’t seem to matter anymore.  Unless there is a physical postpartum complication, then she will get the care and attention she needs.  But mental postpartum complications are never treated with the same sense of urgency.

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What [actually] happens in the 4th Trimester?

Here is a woman who’s physical, mental and emotional state has just gone through the roller coaster ride of it’s life.  She is in pain everywhere as she’s literally just been ripped open and had a part of her removed.  A brand new person is now completely dependent on her for their survival but there is a major communication barrier. 

Despite feeling the highest levels of exhaustion, she’ll be unable to sleep for longer than a 3 hour stretch… for months.  The pressure to breastfeed weighs heavily on her.  She will feel vulnerable, exposed and judged every time her baby is hungry, and that will be a lot.  She will lose all confidence in herself as a woman if she is unable to produce enough milk.

Why You Should Never Give A New Mom Unsolicited Advice
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The first three months postpartum (or 4th trimester) should be the time when a mother rests and gets to know her newborn.  She should have support and help.  She shouldn’t need to worry about anything other than herself and baby.  But this rarely happens.  A lot of people will “visit” but only the odd few will actually be of any real help.  Many mothers even have to return to work before they have time to properly heal.  

How to Ensure Successful breastfeeding with postpartum depression
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Years Later and Still Depressed.

When we take into account the terrible state of maternal mental health care, it’s no wonder that more and more women are battling depression long after giving birth.  Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders should be treated with much more respect.  Mothers need time to heal, they need help and proper support.  The level of care for a new mother should be just as important as it is for a newborn baby.

But the blame is not solely on the health care system. Take my story, for example.  I am fortunate that I live in Canada and was able to take an entire year of paid maternity leave.  I also delivered by midwives and the postpartum care that I received from them was far superior to anything I got in the hospital.  They came TO. MY. HOUSE. for days and weeks afterwards just to check up on me and baby.  They stayed for hours and drank tea and helped me breastfeed and changed diapers.  But I still got postpartum depression, despite all of that.

What it comes down to is that mothers need to take better care of themselves.  They need to understand the importance of rest and accepting help from others.  And most importantly, they need to speak up if they feel like something isn’t right.

The Postpartum Depression Drug | Brexanolone (Zulresso)
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There is no cure for postpartum depression.  Treatment will make the symptoms manageable but it will never go away.

This will be my seventh year fighting against postpartum depression, so I can confirm that this is a long term battle.  But I say this not to make you feel even more depressed, but to encourage and inspire you.  Talk to you doctor, fight for your rights, demand better treatment and speak up about postpartum depression to everyone who will listen. 

Most importantly, seek treatment.  With the right treatment, you can live symptom free for the rest of your life.  All it takes is that first step.

One Year Postpartum & Still Depressed One Year Postpartum & Still Depressed


How To Know If Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

With the variety of different online resources available to moms with postpartum depression and/or anxiety, how do you know which one is the right choice for you?

Thanks to the internet, moms suffering from a postpartum mood disorder can find help from the comfort of their own homes.  From their cell phone or computer they can quickly and easily get in touch with someone who understands their situation and can offer advice and counseling.  It might be a game changer for the mental health community but is online therapy the right choice for moms with postpartum depression or anxiety?

One company, eVideo Counselor, is looking to make sure of it.  Their success in helping veterans with PTSD and substance abuse patients find hope again, has led them to reach out to the maternal mental health community.  I had an opportunity to check out their services for myself and discovered just how beneficial their services can be for moms with postpartum depression.

Here are some tips to help you figure out if this is the right choice for you.
How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
*This is a sponsored post for which I received compensation. As always, the opinions in this post are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links.  Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

Finding The Right Therapist

Moms are nothing if not thorough.  When we got pregnant, we made sure to find the right doctor to deliver our baby and the right pediatrician to take care of them.  And by “right” I mean someone that we trusted, were comfortable with and could talk openly to.  So it’s a no-brainer that we look for the same qualities in a therapist.

One of the biggest hesitations that moms have when it comes to online therapy is who their therapist will be.  How can we trust this person on the other end of the screen who could be who-knows-where?  Will it be awkward? Do they have real credentials?  Is this all a scam?

Thankfully, eVideo Counselor has taken away that uncertainty by guaranteeing that their counselors are all well trained and licensed, undergo thorough background checks and are consistently monitored to ensure high-performance.

Most importantly, their video conferencing sessions make sure that you get  the personalized face to face contact that a mom with postpartum depression so desperately needs.  Your therapist will be able to read your body language and facial expressions in order to understand all the things that you want to say but just don’t know how to.  At first, it might feel a little bit awkward.  But eventually, video conferencing with your therapist will feel no different than meeting with them in person.

All eVideo Counselor sessions are also HIPAA compliant, which means you can speak freely and openly with your therapist and know that everything you say is private and confidential.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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What If It Doesn’t Work?

Therapy does not work for everyone.  And sometimes it does work, without you even realizing it.  At my very first therapy session nearly 7 years ago, all I did was cry for the entire hour.  I felt like I had wasted everyone’s time.  Little did I know, having a safe place to let all my emotions go was exactly what I needed.  It was part of the healing process and put me on the path to recovery.

One of the best things that eVideo Counselor offers is a system for measuring whether or not online therapy is working for you.  

Prior to beginning online therapy with an eVideo Counselor, you’ll be given a short online questionnaire.  This is similar to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) that is normally used by doctors and care providers in the first few weeks postpartum, but more detailed.  You will also be asked the same questionnaire halfway through your therapy sessions and at the end, to see how your answers have changed.

There are additional and more extensive tests offered as well, but this system of metrics offers something that mothers with a postpartum mood disorder desperately need – validation. 

The tests can determine whether you are suffering from clinical postpartum depression or anxiety, or a combination of the two.  For mothers who aren’t 100% certain of their diagnosis, or who might still be in denial about what they’re feeling, this is a huge benefit and step in the right direction.

Your therapist will also go over your test results with you in detail.  This additional step is unlike anything offered by a doctor’s office.  Explaining why and how you answered the questions the way you did will give your therapist a better idea of how to care for you.  They will also explain the significance of the questions and provide you with a plan on how to manage your symptoms.

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Getting Your Doctor Involved

A legitimate company that wants to help you find healing and success will want to involve all aspects of your healthcare. Mental illness can cause a combination of physical and psychological symptoms.  It’s important to have a team of medical professionals working together to provide you with the best care possible.

eVideo Counselor has already thought of that and makes it possible for your therapist to coordinate with your healthcare provider.  This additional service means there won’t be any surprises when you go into your doctor’s office, and you won’t have to repeat everything over and over again.

This care co-ordination service is something that can help put an end to stories like Jessica Porten’s (a.k.a. the mom who had the cops called on her when she went to the hospital seeking help for postpartum depression).  Having a licensed therapist vouch for your symptoms, plus have the test results to show for it, can make a difference in how you will be treated by the medical system.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression .

There is a lot of fear and stigma around maternal mental health, which is one of the main reasons why mothers don’t speak up about postpartum depression.  Online therapy offers services that can help break down those barriers and encourage mothers to feel confident enough to speak up.

In addition to the more common benefits of online therapy, such as convenient scheduling, anonymity and cost, eVideo Counselor offers extra perks that make therapy sessions more well-rounded.  Because of this, they have lower no-show rates and higher success rates.

But the truth is, if you really want to know if online therapy is the right choice for you, you need to try it out yourself.

All it takes is a few short steps to get started with an eVideo Counselor right now. Click here to begin.


How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms

How to know if Online Therapy is the right choice for moms

10 Mothers Who Lost The Battle to Postpartum Depression

Everyday, mothers battle against postpartum depression.  And like with any war, there will be some casualties along the way.

It’s hard to ignore the tragic stories we see in headlines of women who have hurt themselves and/or their children.  They are the stories that tend to hit us the hardest.

How could a mother – known for characteristics of loving and protecting her children – do such unimaginable things to them?  We hug our own children close, unable to even think of doing something like that.  She must be a monster, we exclaim!

And we’re not wrong, only a monster would do such a thing.  Mothers with postpartum depression battle against the monster inside their own minds everyday.  But they don’t always win.

These 10 women made headlines when they lost the battle to postpartum depression.

***WARNING*** This post contains graphic details about true stories pertaining to suicide and infanticide, which some may find particularly disturbing.  If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please click here to find a list of support numbers.

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression
This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression

10 Mothers Who Lost the Battle to Postpartum Depression


Andrea Yates

She is perhaps the most infamous mother who lost the battle to postpartum depression.  Andrea Yates’s battle against postpartum depression was a lengthy one with a tragic ending.  Not only did she have a history of depression and eating disorders as a teen, but she also attempted suicide a few times in the early stages of her postpartum depression.

Unlike many cases of postpartum depression, she received plenty of care, including various different drugs, several hospitalizations and regular appointments with a psychiatrist.  Despite all of the interventions, she continued to suffer from postpartum depression, psychosis and schizophrenia, which worsened after the birth of her fifth child.

Andrea lost the battle to postpartum depression the day that she drowned all five of her children in the bathtub.

It was clear to everyone, including the courts, that she suffered from a mental illness, but maternal mental health was not as widely understood at the time and the law could not protect her.  Initially she was sentenced to prison in 2001.  But after five years, she was moved to a high security mental hospital, and then a year later, into a low security mental hospital where she now remains.

13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know
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Lisa Gibson

This story strikes home for me…  literally.  Lisa Gibson was a woman from my own hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Her story is what inspired me to speak up about my own postpartum depression battle.

I remember watching the news on that Wednesday morning when the children were found dead and their mother was missing.  I hoped and prayed that she would be found alive as reports came in of a woman in pajamas wandering around near the river.

The Saturday morning that her body was found, part of me felt relieved.  I was truly hoping that she would be found alive, but I also knew that her nightmare was now over.  Lisa Gibson lost the battle to postpartum depression and took her children down with her.  But her struggle inspired me, and hopefully many others, to fight even harder to win.


Jenny Gibbs Bankston

Jenny’s Light is a non-profit postpartum depression foundation that was built after the tragic deaths of Jenny and Graham Gibbs Bankston in 2007.

Jenny’s closest support system had no idea that she was suffering from any type of mood disorder in the 6 weeks following the birth of her son.  It wasn’t until she, very suddenly and without warning, purchased a gun and shot both herself and her newborn son in her own backyard, that they realized something had gone very wrong.

Her family now runs the foundation to help provide women with support, resources and information about postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, in an effort to help save others from experiencing the same tragedy.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Charlene Ventanilla

It was a short couple of months after the birth of her son when Charlene Ventanilla lost the battle to postpartum depression.  She was found by her husband on her two year old’s toddler bed shortly after stabbing her 8 week baby and herself to death in 2016.

In Charlene’s case, it’s stated that prescription contraceptive pills played a part in her extreme behavior and mood changes.  And since no one knows the exact cause of postpartum depression, it’s entirely possible.  Those who knew her said they had no idea how badly she was struggling, which made it much harder to accept the loss.

You can help support Charlene’s husband, Ken and their older son, Vincent on GoFundMe.


Erin Sutherland

When a tragedy occurs to a mother and baby in the first few weeks or months postpartum, it’s easy to accept postpartum depression as the cause.  However, we know that postpartum depression does not just go away, especially when left untreated.

In the 2015 case of Erin Sutherland from Scotland, she suffocated her baby when she was 10 months old.  She apparently tried to get help when her daughter was 8 months old but was told that support was not available after the first 6 months.

Erin also suffered from postpartum depression following the birth of an older child, so the fact that she had a history of it should have been even more cause for concern.  Instead, she was sentenced to 3 years in prison following a stay in a mental hospital.


Deasia Watkins

The 2015 story of Deasia Watkins is one of the most disturbing ones out there.  While suffering from postpartum psychosis, Deasia stabbed and cut off the head of her 3 month old baby girl.

Before the tragic event took place, many measures had already been taken to help protect Deasia and the baby.  She was prescribed medication and her baby was taken away from her by family services and placed in the care of her aunt.

It is said that her behavior was clearly that of a woman suffering from a mental illness.  She spoke of demons and was often seen talking to herself.  But the psychiatric evaluation she had before her trial found her competent and she was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Intrusive Thoughts
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Lisette Bamenga

This is another mother who also suffered badly from postpartum psychosis.  The 2016 story of Lisette Bamenga gives us a good idea of just how twisted postpartum psychosis can make someone.

Lisette did not just try to kill her children, she poisoned them, drowned them and then also left them in a room full of carbon monoxide.  After all of this, she tried to commit suicide herself.  She was saved but her children were not.

It’s a truly heartbreaking story of a mother who was obviously tormented by pain.  There was mention of some relationship problems, which likely exacerbated her symptoms.  She was given 8 years in prison.


Florence Leung

Running away from home.  It’s a thing I fantasized about on some of my really bad days, so I can empathize with Florence Leung, a mother from New Westminster, B.C.

On October 25 2016, she left without a trace and it took nearly 3 weeks before her body was found.  

What to do when Postpartum Depression Makes you feel Suicidal
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As a registered nurse, Florence knew about postpartum depression and anxiety and had sought treatment for it.  But none of that seemed to matter in the end, and Florence tragically lost the battle to postpartum depression.


Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling

The story of Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling is an important one to include in this list because it was not only one woman fighting the battle against postpartum depression, but an entire family.

Unlike many women who struggle in silence, Jennifer was open about her postpartum depression.  She spoke about her struggles with her siblings and mother, sought help from her doctors and was honest and open about how she was feeling with her therapists.  She tried all different kinds of medications and when her condition worsened, her sister and mother came to her aid.

Jennifer’s support system tried everything they could to help her.  They had her committed to a psychiatric ward, set up appointments with different psychiatrists and helped manage her medications.  They made sure to never leave her alone.  But despite all of their help, support and interventions, Jennifer managed to jump in front of a train and end her life.

Although Jennifer lost the battle to postpartum depression, her family continues to fight. They established the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation in Chicago where they offer a 24 hour postpartum depression hotline (866-364-MOMS).


Naomi Knoles

One of the longest battles against postpartum depression was fought by Naomi Knoles.  Her story teaches us never to stop fighting, even when we think the battle is over.

Naomi experienced postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis after the birth of her daughter in 2003.  She suffered so badly that she attempted to take her own life, but was unsuccessful.  Still struggling, Naomi ended her daughter’s life, claiming she was trying to save her from having to grow up and deal with this horrible pain herself.

Naomi served 10 years in prison and upon her release she immediately became an advocate for postpartum depression and maternal mental health.  She volunteered with Postpartum Support International and shared her story in the popular postpartum depression documentary “When The Bough Breaks.”

It seemed as though things were looking up for Naomi.  And then, 12 years after the birth of her daughter, and two years after her release from prison, she committed suicide. 

Mental illness is not something that just disappears.  It can be managed with treatment, but for many mothers, it’s a battle they will fight their entire lives.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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If there’s one takeaway from these tragic stories, it’s that maternal mental illness is not something that should ever be taken lightly.

Mothers with postpartum depression are often told that what they are feeling is “normal” or their symptoms are brushed off.  This enables the dangerous idea that mothers have to be in much worse condition before they will be taken seriously.  But yet, postpartum depression affects nearly 600,000 women in the US each year.  This is definitely not something that we can continue to ignore.

13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know

With more and more information about postpartum depression readily available to new moms, will they take the time to read it?

When I was an expectant first time mom, I knew very little about postpartum depression.  It was surprising because, as a researcher by nature, I wanted to know about every possible complication I could get.  But I scoffed at the thought of getting postpartum depression.  In my mind, mental illness was for the weak.  And even if I did get it, I would never let it get the best of me – I was a strong, positive, confident person.

I horrifically underestimated the power of postpartum depression.  

Ultimately, it did get the best of me and it’s a battle that I still fight to this very day.  I sadly regret not taking the time to learn more about maternal mental health and postpartum depression 10 years ago when I had the chance.  So now I  urge all new mothers, expectant mothers, first, second, third time mothers, to read as much information about postpartum depression as they can find, even if you doubt that you’ll get it.

Here are some specific things that I wish I had known.
13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know 13 Things About Postpartum Depression All New Moms Need to Know

1. You don’t need to have a history of mental illness in order to get it.

One of the biggest misconceptions about postpartum depression is that it can only occur if you have a history of mental illness.  But because there is no clear reason why women get postpartum depression, this is not a fact we can rely heavily on.  This means that you could get postpartum depression even if you’ve never dealt with mental illness before and have no family history of it.

Another thing to take into consideration is the silent struggle of mental illness.  It’s likely you DO have a family history of mental illness but it was never, ever spoken of.  If we think the stigma of mental illness is an epidemic now, imagine what it was like 40 years ago, or more.

Ruling out postpartum depression based solely on the fact that you have no history of mental illness is not a guarantee that you will not get it.

What Happens When Someone Incredible Gets Postpartum Depression
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2. You can get it even if you have zero risk factors.

Some of the risk factors for postpartum depression are:
  • A personal history of mental illness (depression, anxiety, bi-polar)
  • A family history of mental illness
  • An unplanned pregnancy
  • A difficult pregnancy
  • An emotional experience with pregnancy or childbirth (infertility, miscarriage, premature labor, complications, special needs baby)
  • A traumatic labor and delivery
  • Childhood trauma
  • A history of domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • Stress (including financial or marital stress)
  • Lack of a proper support system
  • Difficulties caring for baby (postpartum complications, breastfeeding problems, colic, etc.)

The list is long but basically it says that if you experience anything other than a “perfect” journey into motherhood, you’re at risk of getting postpartum depression.  So let’s take a long shot and say that everything, from the moment you conceived until your child’s first birthday, went exactly as you imagined and nothing terrible happened along the way…

You could still get it!

Again, no one knows exactly why women get postpartum depression.  Some theories say it has to do with a shift in the hormones – which would mean the risk factors actually have nothing to do with it at all.

Miscarriage: Moving on Doesn't Mean Forgetting
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3. It is not always triggered by trauma.

Trauma is a recurring theme on the list of risk factors because it plays a huge role in mental illness.  In fact, our first response when faced with postpartum depression is to think back to what traumatic experience could have caused this.

It’s important to know that trauma is not the only trigger of postpartum depression.  Mental illness tends to prey on the weak, and we are often at our weakest shortly after experiencing a life changing event such as becoming a mother.  Sleep deprivation, physical pain from labor, fears and anxiety and even the simple act of change can all trigger feelings of depression.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a great method to help figure out what is triggering the postpartum depression so that you can learn how to manage it.

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4. It doesn’t necessarily start right after birth.

Making it through the first six weeks unscathed does not mean that you’re in the clear.  Symptoms of postpartum depression can show up anytime within the first year after giving birth.

Some women experience the highest of highs after giving birth and can ride it out for months.  This can make the drastic fall into postpartum depression that much more difficult.

Care for new mothers normally ends around six weeks postpartum.  So it’s not uncommon for symptoms of postpartum depression to show up after this point, when all the help and attention suddenly comes to a grinding halt.

The Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression vs No Postpartum Mood Disorder
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5. It’s likely you will experience some form of the baby blues.

It’s reported that 80% of new mothers suffer from the baby blues.  The fact that it IS so common can actually make postpartum depression harder to diagnose because many women and medical professionals have trouble telling the two apart.

The rule of thumb is that if the symptoms don’t go away after a couple weeks, then it’s probably postpartum depression.  This usually results in mothers being brushed off if they express any kind of concern about their mental health in the first few weeks postpartum.

While there’s no need to worry excessively that the baby blues will turn into something more – there are a few differences that you should keep an eye out for.

6 Warning Signs That it's More Than The Baby Blues
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6. The most common symptoms are not the only ones.

When we think of the word “depression” we often associate it with sadness.  But postpartum depression doesn’t always manifest as sadness.  It usually manifests as a feeling of “nothingness.”

Feeling nothing, empty, or numb, is one of the most significant symptoms of postpartum depression because it’s what drives all the other symptoms. Being numb makes us feel fatigued and unable to do the most basic of tasks.  We don’t want to go out anywhere or do anything.  We don’t feel the urge to eat or sleep or laugh.  We may not feel happy, but neither do we feel sad.

Postpartum depression can also cause a variety of different physical symptoms.  Normally we don’t associate physical symptoms with mental illness and so we turn into hypochondriacs trying to find the cause of our physical pain.

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7. It can show up as anxiety, or a combination of depression and anxiety.

Now here’s the real tricky part that always seems to confuse new mothers.  Anxiety.  When looking at a list of postpartum depression symptoms, the symptoms of anxiety and those of depression tend to be lumped together, making it even harder to know what it is you’re dealing with.

A new mother can experience anxiety in combination with postpartum depression, which means that all of that emptiness is replaced with a constant state of fear and worry.  It’s the kind of worry that keeps you up at night.  Things that never seemed to bother you much before now feel like the biggest threats.  You imagine horrible scenarios in your head and do things to prevent them from happening, as far-fetched as they might seem.

Some new mothers deal with anxiety without the depression, in which case, they are not numb to all the normal emotions of motherhood but worry just the same.  Anxiety is a dangerous mental health disorder that can open the door to intrusive thoughts, rage and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Intrusive Thoughts
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8. Your spouse or partner may be the first to notice that something is wrong.

The people who know you best will notice a change in you before you realize it yourself.  They may not tell you that they notice it, depending on your relationship, but they’ll know.  It’s kind of hard to live that closely with someone and not be able to spot that something just isn’t right.

Part of the responsibility of your spouse, partner, baby’s father, etc., is to help you through this postpartum period and recognizing the signs of postpartum depression falls into that category.  Even if they don’t know exactly what’s wrong, they should speak up if they think you’re acting differently.

Try not to be offended or act defensively when someone you love says you might have postpartum depression.  Approaching the subject of mental health is a hard task and the fact that they’ve said anything at all means they’re truly trying to help.

14 Ways to Help A Mother with Postpartum Depression
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9. There is no shame in admitting that you have it.

Mental illness is so stigmatized that women who are suffering from a valid, medical, postpartum complication are afraid to tell anyone.  They believe that battling a mental illness makes them look weak, when in fact, the opposite is true.

Warriors are working hard to end the stigma around maternal mental health, but until then, all we can do is educate others.  The more people know about postpartum depression, the less shame there will be for those who carry the burden.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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10. While there is no cure,  it is treatable.

Once it’s triggered, postpartum depression lingers around like the annoying friend who’s overstayed their welcome.  With treatment, and a little extra work, it is entirely manageable.

First off, mothers with postpartum depression need to proactively take care of themselves.  They need to maintain their health and keep their stress level down.  Mental illness thrives in a toxic environment, so it’s important to stay positive, eat right, sleep well and be mindful.

Secondly, a form of professional treatment is a must.  This could be anti-depressant medication, cognitive behavior therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, or hypnosis, to name a few.  There are treatment options that are all-natural and safe for breastfeeding, so that is not an excuse not to seek treatment.

Postpartum Depression Self Care
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11. The best place to get help is from someone who understands maternal mental health.

When we hear of stories like Jessica Porten and Andrea Yates, the thought of talking to someone about postpartum depression is terrifying.  These women are being treated like criminals by supposed professionals.  And the public reaction to their “crimes” is even more disturbing.

That’s why it’s important to seek help from someone that you trust, and someone who understands the reality of postpartum depression.  A great place to start is Postpartum Support International.  You can call a helpline to get all kinds of information and support.

If you’re looking for more hands on help, talk to a postpartum doula who are trained specifically to help new mothers and recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression in it’s earliest stages.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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12. If left untreated, you will likely struggle with symptoms for the rest of your life.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in the world.  Postpartum depression has claimed many lives and while it is a worst case scenario, it CAN happen to anyone.

Even if the symptoms go away for a while, there is always the risk of a relapse.  The only way to stay on top of the symptoms and win the battle against postpartum depression is by sticking to a treatment plan.

One Year Postpartum & Still Depressed
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13. It’s entirely possible that you may not get it all, but it’s better to be prepared.

I had three all-natural, drug free births, but that didn’t stop me from researching epidurals and c-sections.  I was thankful that I didn’t have either of them but I wanted to be prepared in the event that I did.

So why is postpartum depression any different?  It’s the most common complication of childbirth and yet no one seems to know anything about it.

There is no harm in researching postpartum depression prior to becoming a mother.  My hope is that you don’t get it, because I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.  But if you do, at least you’ll be prepared.

12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year

Our mental health struggles evolve with the seasons.

Throughout the year, our mental health will go through a series of highs and lows.  Whether you’ve been struggling with seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety or another mental illness, you may find that it’s worse at different times throughout the year.  In order to improve your mental health, you must consider all the different factors that each season brings.

Here are some ways that you can improve your mental health this year, broken down by months.
12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

January

The first step to improve your mental health throughout the entire year is to start with a plan.  You only have to plan out as much or as little of your year as you’re comfortable with.  The simplest way to do this is with a calendar of the full year.  You can choose a large desk calendar, a smaller personal calendar, an agenda or a bullet journal.

Start by filling in all your important dates.  Write down everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, work schedules and appointments.  If you have a vacation coming up this summer, write it on the calendar in great big bold letters!  Don’t forget to schedule in your self-care time!

Then, make a list of goals you hope to achieve and put the dates you want to reach them on your calendar.  Think outside the box when it comes to your goals, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small wins.   For example, if insomnia is a problem for you, then set a goal to get one straight week of decent sleep.  Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it every single day, and don’t forget to update it each month with new tasks and goals.

Having a plan in place, with attainable goals, will help you feel more organized and confident and ultimately improve your mental health.

Download a free printable PDF calendar in the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide Free Resource LibraryClick here to subscribe for instant access!

12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year, Download a Free Calendar!
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February

Finally, the last of the winter months!  Take some time this month to embrace the cold weather before it’s gone and enjoy all things warm and cozy.  The Scandinavians refer to this practice as “hygge(pronounced hoo-gah).

The cold and darkness of the winter months can have a strong effect on our mental health, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  But knowing that spring is right around the corner can bring a glimmer of hope and actually improve our mental health.

So celebrate the end of winter by getting in one last fire in the fireplace, drink all the hot cocoa and stay in bed as long as you want.

How to Reduce Mom Guilt by Embracing a Hygge Lifestyle
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March

It’s time for some spring cleaning! But I’m not talking about dishes and laundry and other everyday tasks.  One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to get rid of all the junk piling up in your living space.  Decluttering your environment is a great way to declutter your mind as well.

Take a few tips from Marie Kondo and organize your spaces.  Clean out your closets, drawers and cupboards.  Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a purpose or bring you joy.  Sort through your paperwork and try to go digital wherever possible.

You don’t need to go full minimalist, but having clean, organized spaces can do wonders for your overall mental health.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Treat It
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April

With the arrival of spring, it’s the perfect time to try out your green thumb.  Gardening is a form of ecotherapy that can help to improve your mental health.  Escaping to your garden can be a form of self care, and there are many indoor plants that offer great health benefits.

Gardening is also an activity you can opt to do with the kids.  Not only do they love playing in the dirt, but they can learn so much about the environment and where food comes from.  If you have picky eaters, they’ll be more likely to eat vegetables that they’ve watched grow in their garden.

Plant some seeds this month and you’ll have something to occupy your mind all summer.  Watching your seedlings grow will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment that will boost your mood and self confidence.

16 Ways Ecotherapy is Good for Moms
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May

Warm weather is just around the corner, so it’s time to pamper that dry winter skin.  Our skin and sense of touch has a big impact on our mental health.  That’s why we can feel so overwhelmed and frazzled when we’ve been over-touched all day by our kids.

For months, our skin has been exposed to harsh temperatures, covered up and neglected.  It’s time to book a spa day or massage and facial or even just plan some DIY pampering at home.  Try out a new summer hairstyle, get a pedicure before breaking out the flip flops and switch to a lighter makeup routine for summer.

Focusing on your outward appearance can boost your confidence and improve your mental health.

7 Ways to Make Your Space a Self Care Sanctuary
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June

Finally, the world is bright and green again.  Spend as much time outdoors as possible this month.  Your body has been deprived of Vitamin D, sunshine and fresh air for months, so get as much of it in as possible.

Go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride.  Outdoor activities often feel less like exercise than going to the gym, and exercise is so important for maintaining your mental health.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your bikini body ready, either.  Hang up a hammock, dust off your patio chairs or lie right on the grass and relax, completely guilt free. Even having your lunch or morning coffee outside will do wonders to improve your mental health.

You made it through the winter so sit back and enjoy the warmth and sunshine while you can.

25 Easy Outdoor Self Care Ideas
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July

Do you remember summer vacation as a kid?  If you have fond memories of summer camp, beach days, camping trips or playing from sun up to sun down, then embrace that and be a kid again this month.

Plan some camping trips or beach days.  Swim as often as you can, no matter what you look like in your bathing suit.  Head to the splash parks and let loose.  Take up a new sport that you’ve always to try.  Channel your inner child and just have some good old-fashioned summer fun.  Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures and maybe even put it together in an album to look at each year.

When you’re battling a mental illness, it’s probably been a long time since you had any real fun.  Remembering a happy time from your childhood can help to improve your mental health in the simplest way.

August

This month, it’s time to focus on something that’s so important for our mental health, but often neglected.  Our support system A.K.A. our friends.  It’s not unusual to withdraw from society while battling a mental illness but what we don’t realize at the time is how important it is to have a strong support system around us.  So focus on those friends this month.

Host a backyard BBQ or plan a group camping trip.  Only invite the people you want to spend time with and don’t feel obligated to invite anyone who brings negativity into your life.  If you’re not ready to be that social yet, then aim for a night out with a couple friends that you’ve been meaning to connect with.

Get out of your comfort zone a little bit this month, dust off your social skills and strengthen your social circle.

14 Ways to Help A Mother with Postpartum Depression
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September

Back to school season means that everyone is learning something new, so why shouldn’t you?  September is a great month to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.

Think of something that you’ve always wanted to do.  You could start making sushi, learn calligraphy or take a photography class.  The possibilities are truly endless.  Check Pinterest, a local hobby store or your bucket list for more inspiration.

Distracting the mind with learning something new can improve your mental health by working your brain in a different way.   Doing something artistic, such as painting, is a great way of expressing any bottled up emotions you may be harboring.  And choosing something physical, like a new sport, can help to burn off any pent up energy.

Our minds love a challenge, so put your brain to work this month.

October

Just like that, the warmer weather is coming to an end.  This can bring a sense of doom and gloom, even if you don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  The thought of winter coming back again, plus the added stress of the holidays can have a severe effect on anyone’s mental health.

Be proactive this month in order to improve your mental health.  Sign up for some online therapy sessions that you can do at your own pace in preparation for the stress that lies ahead.  Stock up on aromatherapy supplies and enroll in a yoga class. 

The most expensive part of the year is coming up.  Now is a good time to have a look at your bills and budget and meet with a financial advisor. Fellow mom and Winnipeger, Sandi Huynen, knows what it’s like.  Check out her website for more information.

Being prepared for the most stressful season ahead can help you feel less overwhelmed.

How To Know if Online Therapy Is The Right Choice for Moms
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November

Whether you start your Christmas shopping early or leave it to the last minute, there should be someone who is at the very top of the list.  You.

This is the month to indulge.  Buy that special something you’ve always wanted but felt guilty splurging on.  Or sign up for a monthly self care box.  I mean, sure, Christmas is coming and you could always add it to your wish list – but there is something so meaningful and significant about buying something yourself.

It’s a way to remind yourself that you are in control of your own happiness.

Prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you a selfish person.  You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.  With the holiday season coming up, your focus is going to shift to your family and friends and making the holidays memorable.

So take the time now to refill your heart and mind.

December

This can be a stressful month for many different reasons:  the financial strain, the stress of Christmas shopping, the long list of events, and anyone who has lost a loved one will miss them especially around the holidays.

One of the best ways to improve your mental health this month is to scale things down.  There is a lot of pressure, especially on mothers, to make Christmas memorable.  Mostly because, when we look back at our happiest memories – they are at Christmastime and we want that for our children as well.

But it’s not about the size of the tree or the gifts.  It’s not about how many crafts or activities or advent calendars there are.  The things we remember most about the holidays is getting together with everyone.

If you want to improve your mental health, scale back the holiday decorations and festivities and focus more on enjoying time with family.


Free Mental Health Calendar
Get this FREE printable 12 Month Mental Health Calendar in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.
12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
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12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

A Year in Review and What’s Happening in 2019

Running in Triangles Year in Review


Happy New Year!

I’m not normally the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions but there is just something about a new year that makes me feel inspired.  It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to change your life and that’s exactly what the Running in Triangles blog has been for me.

This month marks the two year anniversary of Running in Triangles and it has been quite a journey.  When I first started, I knew that I wanted to talk openly about postpartum depression and help raise awareness about maternal mental health.  But I had no idea what an impact it would make on my life and the lives of others.

In 2017, I wrote about all kinds of things I learned while raising my three kids, from sleep training and breastfeeding to party planning.  But it was my posts about postpartum depression that gained the most popularity, and the ones I felt most inspired to publish.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up About Having Postpartum Depression
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Posts like 9 Reasons Why Mothers Don’t Speak Up About Postpartum Depression and 14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression were easy to write because they were the things that I’ve always wanted to say.  Two years later, they are still some of the most popular posts on the blog and have inspired many women to speak up and seek help.

I didn’t know it at the time, but those two posts have become the cornerstone content of Running in Triangles.   The fact that women don’t talk about postpartum depression was something that needed to change and a big part of the problem is the lack of support.

Their popularity confirmed what I already knew: women with postpartum depression wanted to speak up and their loved ones wanted to help them, but no one knew how or where to begin.

This discovery led to last year’s Postpartum Depression Guest Post Series It was my way of giving these women a safe space to tell their stories without worrying about being judged or criticized.  I accepted and published every single guest post that was submitted, no matter who it was from.

Of course, I led by example and shared my own postpartum depression story, which was not at all easy to do.  I also tackled tougher topics such as intrusive thoughts, postpartum rage and feeling suicidal.  As difficult as it was to research and write about these topics, I knew that mothers needed to be better informed about them.


This past year, I spent a lot of time reading postpartum depression stories, participating in online support groups and watching YouTube videos of women trying to explain what it’s like, and their stories were all so unique.

I read about women who spent thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to conceive, and others who ended up pregnant unexpectedly. 

I heard from women who had incredibly supportive spouses, and those who suffered from divorce and separation at the hand of postpartum depression.

I watched some women struggle openly and others do everything in their power to hide what they were feeling.

But one thing was the same… their pain.

Knowing that thousands of other women, from all around the world, were dealing with the same pain, no matter their backgrounds, made me feel incredibly empowered;  as if I had an army of women behind me who could  validate my feelings.


To help put it into perspective, I chose ten questions about postpartum depression and decided to ask as many women as possible to answer them.

I am excited to see how the answers will compare and my hope is that they will prove to other women who might feel isolated and afraid of speaking up that they are not, in fact, alone.

My goal for 2019 is to get at least 200 women with postpartum depression to answer these 10 questions.

If you, or someone you know, has postpartum depression, please click below to submit your answers and help me share this questionnaire so that it can reach women from all around the world.

Mothers Answer 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression
Please note that by submitting this form and providing your e-mail address, you will be subscribed to the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide Newsletter and agree to be contacted via e-mail.  Your e-mail address will never be published on Running in Triangles and you may unsubscribe at any time.

In addition to this exciting challenge,  I hope to continue providing more information about postpartum depression and maternal mental health this year.  They say knowledge is power and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to mental health.  Being misunderstood, judged and stigmatized are some of the biggest barriers for a woman with postpartum depression and it’s my mission to change that.

Thank you so much to all of my supporters, readers, contributors and of course, to my fellow postpartum depression survivors who inspire me to keep going.
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