Katelyn’s Postpartum Depression Story

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6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression

Too many mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety put off seeking help or getting the care they need.  One reason for this is because they just don’t know where to go or who to talk to.  And even if they did know, the idea of leaving the house for appointments can be both inconvenient and terrifying.

The good news is that, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways for a mother to get online help for postpartum depression from the comfort of her own home.  Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easier to find the right person to speak to.  Instead of having to rely on resources available locally, women now have access to an international panel of experts.

Here are some ways that mothers can access online help for postpartum depression

6 Ways to Get Online Help for 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.


Try Online Therapy

One of the best ways for moms to get help for postpartum depression is by speaking to a therapist.  But it’s also something that many women avoid doing for several reasons:

It’s tough to arrange for childcare during appointments, especially with a brand new or exclusively breastfed baby. 

There is a lot of stigma around “going to therapy” that may deter a mother from choosing to do it in public.  

With so many horror stories of mothers being treated like criminals, they may avoid speaking to someone without knowing how that person will react first.

Finding the right therapist can be difficult.  It sometimes requires a referral from a doctor, which can delay the process.

Having to make phone calls to set up appointments, get dressed to go out, interact with others socially and feel judged by everyone along the way is an exhausting task for mothers with postpartum depression.

Mothers don’t always feel at their worst between 9 – 5, Monday to Friday.  Some therapists might offer an emergency number to call but that would mean inconveniencing someone and mothers aren’t usually down for doing that, no matter how bad it gets.

Signing up for online therapy can solve so many of these problems.  On sites such as Online-Therapy.com, you have a better chance of being matched with a therapist that is right for you.  You have the ability to speak to your therapist through a live chat or e-mail, which makes it much more convenient.  You can even purchase sessions for just one week at a time, so there’s no huge commitment if you find it’s not for you.

With online therapy you also get a variety of other tools and resources at your disposal, 24/7.  You can access an online forum for therapy members, yoga and meditation videos, workbooks and more.  You get so much more than just a therapy session, and you can do it all right from home.

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Make a Phone Call

Sometimes, when you are having a really bad day, you just need to talk to someone who understands.  A helpline is designed specifically for that purpose.  While not technically considered online help for postpartum depression, it’s still something that you can do from the comfort of your own home and have access to 24/7.

If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone urgently:

In the US: 

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8225

In Canada: 

Call the National Crisis Services Canada Number 1-833-456-4566 and you will be connected with the closest provincial crisis center to your location.

Internationally:

On the Befrienders Worldwide website, you can search for suicide helplines by country.  The website is also available in different languages and provides resources and information about mental health.

For general information, support and resources:

Call the Postpartum Support International’s Helpline 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) It’s a messaging system so you would have to leave a message and then someone would get back to you as soon as possible.  It is NOT meant for emergencies, but rather, to find out where and how to get help.

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Send a Text Message

Texting is a newer way that moms can get online help for postpartum depression and many support groups are making this an option.  It is so much easier for a mother battling a mental illness to send a text message when she’s overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings, rather than speak to someone over the phone or face to face.

In the US:

Text HOME to 741741 for any type of crisis and a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line will respond 24/7.

In Canada:

Text HOME to 686868 to access the Crisis Text Line in Canada.  This text line is managed by volunteers and is a division of the Kids Help Phone.

Text Crisis Services Canada at 45645 anytime between 5 pm and 1 am and get a response from someone at the crisis center.  A live chat option is also available on their website (also between 5 pm and 1 am).

You can also text the Postpartum Support International’s Warmline at 503-894-9453 for information and to get support and resources close to where you live.

Many local support groups also offer their own text line, so make sure to find out what they are and store them in your phone for emergencies.

Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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Join a Facebook Support Group

Facebook support groups are a great way to get online help for postpartum depression.  Not only will you be able to find some posts that you relate to, but you’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggles.

If you’re not big on communicating with strangers, it helps just to read some of the posts and comments.  If you have a particular question, you can search for it in the group and see if someone else has already asked about it.  It’s a great resource to get peer support and advice for postpartum depression and anxiety.

Some of the groups that I’m in and would recommend:

Postpartum Support International – Group Size: Large (8,000 + Members).

If you have a question about treatment options, symptoms, previous experiences – this is the place to go to get your questions answered.  PSI’s support group is a mix of health care professionals, therapists, sufferers and survivors.  If you have a question about anything related to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, you will find it here.

Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support Group – Group Size: Medium (4,000 + Members).

This group is a very supportive one and the perfect place to go and vent about what you’re feeling.  If you just need someone to talk to or share your story with someone who will understand, then the women in this group are here for you.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group – Group Size: Small (3,000 + Members).

What I love about this smaller group is that you really get the chance to connect with other members.  If you’re seeking more than just a sounding board, and hoping to make friends and build a support system to help you through this difficult time, then consider joining this group.

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Hire a Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula is someone who comes to your house after you have a baby specifically to help you out.  They are not like a nanny, in that, they are there to support you and not simply to take care of the baby and the house.  They are trained to recognize the early symptoms of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and can direct you where to get help.  Most can be hired to work a night shift so that you can get the sleep you desperately need.  I consider this a form of online help for postpartum depression because searching various websites is generally the best way to find the right doula for you.

There are several websites you can use to find a doula in your area:

DONA International

One of the most widely recognized doula certification organizations – you can search their database for a postpartum doula near you!

ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)

A non-profit organization that supports doulas and other professional childbirth educators.  Their list includes both certified and non-certified doulas.

Doula Match 

You can search a database of over 10,000 doulas in Canada and the US and the best part is that you can enter the dates when you would need their services to make sure that they are available before contacting them.

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Download an App

There are so many apps available to help with almost any kind of problem you’re experiencing.  Online help for postpartum depression in the form of an app is so convenient and always at your fingertips.  Instead of scrolling through social media on your phone, download a meditation or self care app to use regularly instead.

PPD ACT

This is part of an important research study but also provides resources for women with postpartum depression.  Read more about it on the Pact For The Cure website.

MGHPDS (Massachusetts General Hospital Perinatal Depression Scale)

This is a good one for new moms who are concerned about developing postpartum depression or anxiety.  It contains questionnaires to assess your mood and stress level and will remind you to take them again every few weeks so that you can document any changes.  The questions are similar to those used by medical professionals to check for maternal mood disorders.

Virtual Hope Box 

This app was originally designed by the military to help patients coping with PTSD.  It’s recommended by therapists as a supplement to treatment for stress and anxiety disorders, but it can be a great tool for a mother battling postpartum depression.  You have the ability to add happy photos or video memories, favorite songs and quotes and access tools for coping with stress and anxiety.

Headspace 

Practicing meditation and mindfulness are great ways to help with postpartum depression and anxiety. This popular meditation app is easy to use and has sessions ranging from 1 minute up to 10 minutes.  It’s perfect for a busy mom with only a few minutes to spare.

SleepBot or SleepCycle

Sleep problems are a big component of postpartum depression and anxiety.  An app that tracks your sleeping patterns can help you avoid some of the nasty side effects of sleep deprivation.

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Online help for postpartum depression should never be a replacement for help from a medical professional.  Always make sure that your doctor knows what you are feeling.

But also, get educated.  Know who to call and how to take care of yourself.

When my battle with postpartum depression began, 6 years ago, I didn’t even have a smartphone.  Aside from a few brochures that I was given in my doctor’s office, I had very little information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Now, almost anyone can access online help for postpartum depression.  There is so much more information for struggling mothers, that it would be a shame to let it all go to waste.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression 6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression

The Truth About Scary and Intrusive Thoughts

Scary and intrusive thoughts are a common symptom of postpartum depression.

Intrusive thoughts lead many women to believe that they are terrible people, unfit mothers or a danger to their children.  While many women experience them in some form, they don’t always recognize that they are intrusive or involuntary.  Instead, they believe that the thoughts are how they truly feel, or what they are thinking subconsciously.  They don’t talk about them for fear of what others will think of them.

It’s important to speak up about intrusive thoughts, but before a woman can do that – she needs to understand what they are, where they come from and what they mean.  This is the only way she will be able to accept that the thoughts she is having are not who she has become, but rather, a side effect of her mental illness.

*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.


What are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are an idea or image that come to your mind involuntarily.  The thoughts may be extremely out-of-character and can be shocking when they happen.  They are almost exactly the same as the thoughts and images that you normally have, except that they are not created nor welcomed by you.  Intrusive thoughts are a sign of mental illness and prove that your mind is playing tricks on you.


What are NOT Intrusive Thoughts?

They are not hallucinations.

They are not third party voices in your head.

They are not an indication of postpartum psychosis.

They are not subconscious thoughts or images.

They are not part of your normal train of thought.

They are not how you truly feel deep down inside.

9 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Types of Intrusive Thoughts

The most common type of intrusive thoughts or images are of doing something bad to the baby.  They can be “what if…” type of thoughts such as “what if I drop my baby down the stairs” or “what if I stab my baby with a knife.”  They can also be images such as watching the baby drown in the bathtub or crashing the car with the baby in the backseat.

Intrusive thoughts can also be about harming yourself.  Many women experience suicidal thoughts but have no actual desire to commit suicide.  Postpartum depression can cause women to experience thoughts of running away, jumping out of a moving car or falling asleep and never waking up again.  Intrusive thoughts often make a woman believe she is unfit to be a mother and that her children would be better off without her.

Another type of intrusive thought includes harming a spouse or another loved one.  It’s normal to complain about the annoying things a spouse does and imagine doing something bad to them, but when it affects your relationship or comes out of nowhere it could be an intrusive thought.  Postpartum depression, and especially postpartum rage, are often misdirected towards spouses and partners – making a woman believe that she really does hate her husband.  Add in intrusive thoughts like running them over with the car and it’s a relationship nightmare…

Some intrusive thoughts are inappropriate and violent.  Many can be sexual in nature or include things like harming animals or setting the house on fire.

Basically, any thought or image that enters your head and feels scary and unnatural is an unwanted or intrusive thought.
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The Danger of Intrusive Thoughts

Thoughts and images alone are not dangerous.  But intrusive thoughts can cause several unwanted side effects that can become dangerous both physically and mentally.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Intrusive thoughts can cause a woman to develop postpartum OCD and become obsessed with certain thoughts and images.  If she imagines the baby dying in their sleep, she may stop sleeping in order to check on baby several times through the night.

Stress and Anxiety. Knowing that intrusive thoughts are a possibility is a big source of stress and anxiety, which can worsen symptoms of postpartum depression.  For a woman suffering from postpartum anxiety, scary thoughts can cause panic attacks and other symptoms.

Acting on Intrusive Thoughts.  It’s rare that a woman would go so far as to act on her intrusive thoughts but the danger that she might still exists.  Intrusive thoughts can even lead a woman to feel suicidal.

Stigmatizing.  Intrusive thoughts play a major role in the stigma of postpartum depression.  Many mothers who try to open up about them are treated like crazy people or seen as dangerous and suicidal.  If intrusive thoughts are confessed to a person (even a medical professional) without enough knowledge about them, the consequences could be dangerous.  Its important to find a safe place to discuss intrusive thoughts.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal
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The Truth About Intrusive Thoughts

The truth is, they are not real.  They may stem from the feelings of inadequacy or overwhelm caused by postpartum depression but they are not part of the subconscious mind.  They are a figment of your imagination and a by-product of mental illness.  In order to eliminate them, and avoid having them control your life, you need to accept that they are coming from somewhere else, and not from what’s within your heart.

How to Get Rid of Intrusive Thoughts

As long as a woman is suffering from a mental illness, the intrusive thoughts will always be a possibility.  So the only way to eliminate them altogether is to treat the underlying condition.  There are still several things a person can do to keep intrusive thoughts from affecting their lives.

Document Them.  Writing down scary thoughts as they happen can help make them less frightening.  You can write them on paper, in a journal or workbook, on your phone or use an app.  If you really want to take a stand against intrusive thoughts and connect with other women who are having them, you could even consider blogging about them.

Release Them.  Intrusive thoughts are perhaps one of the hardest things to speak out loud when battling postpartum depression.  Many people are not nearly as informed about intrusive thoughts as they should be, and this makes talking openly about them risky.  The best place to express the scary thoughts you’re having is to find a safe and positive space, such as a support group. The Postpartum Stress Center offers a safe place online for women to anonymously #SpeaktheSecret.  It helps to read some of the thoughts other women have had, and even submit your own to release them from your mind.

Online Therapy.  Speaking to a mental health professional is always a good course of action for women battling intrusive thoughts.  With online therapy, you have the option to chat with your therapist anytime throughout the day, as opposed to waiting for a scheduled appointment.  This is a great option to be able to discuss scary thoughts as they occur.  (If this is an option you’d like to explore, you can get 20% off of online therapy using my affiliate link: http://runningintriangles.com/OnlineTherapy).

Meditation.  Clearing the mind on a daily basis can help reduce the instances of intrusive thoughts.  Meditation can also help to create mindfulness in general, making you feel a little bit more in control of the thoughts and images in your own head.  Meditation, either alone or while doing yoga, should become an important part of your self-care routine for battling postpartum depression and intrusive thoughts.

Positive Imagery.  Surround yourself with sights that make you feel happy.  You can put together a photo album of some of your happiest photos and look at it regularly.  Or keep flowers and plants in your home.  Hang motivational posters or family photos on the walls.  Subconsciously, your mind will soak up all the beauty around you and be a happier place.

Get Enough Sleep.  Sleep deprivation is known for causing all kinds of problems in new mothers.  From postpartum depression to anxiety and rage, a lack of sleep is like leaving the door wide open for intrusive thoughts.  If you need to, invest in a better mattress and look into other ways to fight off insomnia.

Distraction.  Keeping the mind distracted will allow less time for scary thoughts to creep in.  Music is an excellent way to keep the mind distracted.  Try playing music in the background while you’re home, call or visit with a friend, read a book or put on the television.  Maintaining a proper self-care routine can also help keep intrusive thoughts away.

7 Ways to Make Your Space a Self Care Sanctuary
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The most important factor in dealing with intrusive thoughts is to know the difference between your actual thoughts and the unwanted ones.  Having intrusive thoughts may make you feel like a bad mother with the potential to do something harmful but it’s not the truth.  Focus on the positive thoughts and try your best to ignore the ones that make you feel anything but joy.  Accept that they are a side effect of postpartum depression and not who you have become.  It may take a while for the thoughts and images to go away, but as long as you remember that you are still you inside, you can defeat them.

How To Find the Courage to Talk About Postpartum Depression

Most women with postpartum depression know two things – that they should talk about it, and that they don’t want to.

New mothers are bombarded with information telling them that they need to speak up if they just aren’t feeling right.  But they don’t – and for several good reasons.  So how do we bridge the gap between the terrified mothers living silently in darkness and the concerned support system who can only help if they know what’s wrong?

Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would break down so many barriers.  And more women talking about postpartum depression would help to do that.

The women who DO speak up, are courageous for doing so.  They have decided to ask for help and tell their stories, despite the barriers presented by the medical system and society in general.

Here are some tips for women who want to know how to talk about 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.


Read About It

Reading the stories of other mothers can help you figure out how to talk about postpartum depression.  Try to read as many stories as you can, because each mother’s experience is different.  You never know which ones will relate to you specifically.  And if you find a story that feels like the author took the words right out of your mouth – then save it and read it over and over again.  Share it on social media or with someone you love.  Let the courage of other woman inspire you to want to share your own story.

Find some stories to read in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories

Postpartum Depression Blog Posts
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More of a visual person?  You can find hundreds of videos of women telling their postpartum depression stories on YouTube

Write About It

If you want to know how to talk about postpartum depression, then you need to practice what you’re going to say.  Writing it out is a great first step.  You don’t need to be a professional writer nor feel any obligation to share your story with anyone.  Write it just for you.

Write it out on paper, in pen, so that you can’t erase or delete anything.  You can scribble words out but they will still be there like an everlasting reminder that running away from your thoughts doesn’t help.

Write about the bad stuff that you’re too afraid to say out loud.  Write about the sad stuff and keep writing even when your tears soak through the paper.  Write about all the hopes and dreams that haven’t come true for you yet.

When you’re done writing it out – you will want to burn it or tear it up into a million pieces and flush it.  But instead of doing that, find the courage to keep it.  It will help you greatly when you are ready to talk about postpartum depression.

Bonus:  Download and print this free PDF workbook to write about your thoughts in.

How to Start Blogging about Postpartum Depression
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Help Someone Else

Helping someone else who is in the same situation as you are is a great way to learn how to talk about postpartum depression.  One way to do this by joining a private online support group where you can talk more freely with strangers.  Mothers are usually quite honest and open in these groups and ask questions about everything from medications to marriage problems.  If you don’t feel quite ready to ask your own questions, then start by answering one for another mother.

Supporting someone else is incredibly empowering and can give you the courage to talk about your own struggle with postpartum depression.

Here are some online support groups you can join: (I am a member of all these groups as well)

Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support

Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Anxiety Support Group

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group 

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Talk to a Survivor

No one knows how to talk about postpartum depression better than a survivor.  I should mention that, when it comes to maternal mental illness, there are no REAL survivors because there is no REAL cure.

What I mean by a survivor is:
  • A woman who has lived through the worst of it in the first year postpartum.
  • A woman who decided she needed help and asked for it.
  • A woman who spoke up about what she was going through.
  • A woman who made changes in her life to avoid the chances of a relapse.
  • A woman who has established a treatment plan.
  • A woman who’s mind told her to end it all but she didn’t.

Survivors are still battling the pain of postpartum depression and/or are at risk for a relapse.  But survivors have one thing that you don’t… they have spoken up about postpartum depression and lived to tell the tale.  So find a survivor and ask them how to talk about postpartum depression.

I am a postpartum depression survivor, and I am always available to talk!  You can also join the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide E-Newsletter and get e-mails from me about things that are important to woman fighting the battle.  Plus – you can reply to any one of them to chat with me directly!

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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Don’t Do It Alone

Fighting a battle alone is never a good plan, no matter how much courage you have.  It is much easier to talk about postpartum depression when you have someone holding your hand.  Asking for help with postpartum depression doesn’t always mean asking for medication or therapy.  Asking for help can mean something as simple as helping you talk to someone about what you’re going through.

Who do you want to talk to about postpartum depression?  Your spouse?  Your doctor? Your family or friends?  Find a person or group to stand with you as you do it (physically or virtually).  Having someone else there for “emotional support” can give you the courage you need to speak up, and also hold you accountable so you can’t back out at the last minute.

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One option to consider if you’d like help to speak openly about your postpartum depression to your family and friends is to access an online psychiatrist.  Thanks to the privacy and anonymity that it offers, you can speak to a licensed professional, on your own time, without anyone needing to know until you are ready.  To find out if this is the right option for you, read up on some more Reasons To Choose An Online Psychiatrist from Betterhelp.com. 

Consider the Worst Case Scenario

Make a list of all the things keeping you silent.  Which one do you fear the most?  Are you afraid you will be treated like a criminal or child abuser?  That your children will be taken away from you, or that your spouse will leave you?  Maybe you’re worried that someone will judge you, say insensitive things to you or avoid you altogether?

Now make a list of all the reasons why you want to speak up.  Are you struggling and don’t know how to cope?  Do you want to be a better mother and wife?  Do you want others to know why you’ve been acting strange?  Do you feel alone?  Are you scared of what you might do?  Contemplating suicide?

9 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Which list is your worst case scenario?

Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you decide to talk about postpartum depression.  Think carefully about the consequences of staying silent when you should be speaking up.  Talking about it won’t be easy, and neither is battling in silence – but wouldn’t you rather have an army by your side to fight the war raging inside of you?

Make Plans For the Future

Thinking about the future can help you decide how to talk about postpartum depression.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the darkness happening right now, but the future is that light at the end of the tunnel.  Without help or a plan to get better, the future seems bleak.  It seems like a never-ending life of sadness and despair.

Imagine what you want your future to look like.  Do you want to have more children?  Think about watching your children grow up, helping them with homework and taking family vacations.  Aim to achieve it instead of mourn what would be.  So make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan for your life.  Having a future will give you something to fight for.

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The simple act of talking about postpartum depression can feel like an insurmountable task for many mothers. 

The hundreds of reasons for staying silent are completely valid and understandable.  Postpartum depression is a private matter and there is no need for the entire world to know about a mother’s inner most thoughts and feelings.

But the hundreds of reasons for speaking up are also valid.  It will take a lot of courage, and make a person feel exposed and vulnerable.  But it means that you won’t have to fight this battle alone.  And if you don’t have to fight it alone, you have a much better chance of winning.

Don’t wait for someone to ask you how you’re feeling, take matters into your own hands and find the courage to speak up.


Ready to talk about postpartum depression?  I can help you share your story!

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A Mother’s Guide to Postpartum Rage

Are you even a mother if you’re not constantly yelling at your kids for something?  Getting mad at your kids or spouse is one thing, but postpartum rage is something entirely different.

Mothers who find themselves suffering from episodes of postpartum rage may feel like they are just unable to handle the everyday challenges of motherhood.  Or perhaps they believe it’s a sign of trouble in their marriage and relationships.  Maternal mental health disorders can have a tricky way of making mothers feel like they are failing.  And postpartum rage is one of the scariest tricks yet.

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage

*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.


What is Postpartum Rage?

As the term suggests, it is classified as feelings of uncontrollable anger in a mother who has recently given birth.  Usually set off by something insignificant (but also triggered by valid reasons), episodes of postpartum rage come on very suddenly and escalate quickly.  They are generally out-of-character for most women and can be especially frightening to those around her.

In most cases, women do not get violent, but because postpartum rage is uncontrollable, it can manifest in violent ways such as throwing or breaking things, swearing, screaming or threatening to do something worse.

Postpartum rage stems from maternal mental health disorders such as postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD.  Similar to anger management problems, postpartum rage is caused by an underlying issue that makes it difficult to control feelings of anger.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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Rage vs. Anger

It’s called postpartum RAGE for a reason.  It’s more than just anger or getting upset over something valid.  It’s not deep-sighs of frustration or disappointment.  It’s not “mom’s upset because we didn’t put our toys away.”  It’s full-blown, blood-boiling, fist-clenching rage.  How do you know if you’re suffering from postpartum rage and not just a hot temper?

  • Reacting quickly and passionately over small things (like a spilled drink)
  • Heart races and blood pressure rises when you start to get upset
  • You cannot stop thinking bad thoughts about someone who wronged you
  • Feeling violent urges or imagining doing something violent to yourself or someone else
  • Screaming or swearing
  • Punching or throwing things
  • Unable to “snap out of it” and needing someone else to intervene
  • Inability to remember everything that happened during the outburst of rage
  • Immediately feeling regret or a flood of emotions afterwards
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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Depression (PPD)

If you’ve ever heard the expression “depression is anger turned inwards” then a link between postpartum depression and postpartum rage makes perfect sense.  Sufferers of postpartum depression are usually seen as having very little energy, lethargic, sad and quiet.  In many ways, the opposite of what we imagine when we hear the word “rage.”

Anger is actually a very common symptom of depression.  Postpartum depression brings with it a lot of guilt and feelings of self-loathing or hatred.  Mothers with postpartum depression tend to bottle up a lot of these unpleasant feelings.  All of those bottled up emotions can, and will, eventually come out, often in the form of postpartum rage.

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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)

This is perhaps the most common combination of postpartum rage.  Postpartum anxiety causes a mother to be worried, overwhelmed, and feel out of control, which easily opens the door to postpartum rage.

Postpartum anxiety can create situations of distrust and paranoia, which feeds the postpartum rage.  The more situations a mother is placed in where she feels out of control or overwhelmed, the more opportunities postpartum rage has to prey on her soul.  What’s worse is that simply knowing she is prone to postpartum rage can make her mental state much worse.

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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is similar to postpartum anxiety in that it leads a new mother to worry quite regularly.  The difference is that with PPOCD, mothers become obsessed about doing something to the point where they can barely function if it isn’t done.  For some women, it’s obsessively cleaning the house, washing their hands or bathing baby, but it can be any kind of obsessive behavior.

If a mother is unable to perform these tasks, it can lead her into a state of postpartum rage due to a loss of control.

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Postpartum Rage + Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Stress is known to have all kinds of detrimental effects on the mind and body.  Many mothers who suffered from PTSD after a traumatic pregnancy or delivery can develop postpartum rage.  This can stem from any resentment they may hold toward their experience.  They may feel sorry for themselves and be unable to move past the traumatic events.  Or, mothers with PTSD may feel hostile towards the doctors, nurses or anyone else who she believes may have contributed to her bad experience.

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How to Manage Postpartum Rage

Step 1: Remove yourself from the situation

As soon as you realize that you’ve lost control – walk away.  It’s important to tell your spouse or partner what you’re going through so that they can intervene if necessary.  Find or create a safe space in your home that you can escape to.

Step 2: Calm down

Take deep breaths, do some yoga, have a drink of water, get some fresh air.  Do whatever you need to do in order to calm yourself down and regain control again.  Sniffing some calming essential oils are a great way to calm yourself down quickly.

Step 3: Find another outlet for your anger

Anger is an important emotion and while you want to keep the postpartum rage under control, it’s imperative that you find another way to express it.  Exercise is a great way to burn off all the pent up energy, or you could focus it towards something creative.

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How to Prevent Postpartum Rage

Ask for help

Postpartum rage can get out of control very quickly.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you if you’re alright.  Make sure that your spouse or partner knows to get involved if you lose control, even (and especially) if it makes the rage worse.  There are also counselors, online therapists and support groups available for you to talk to.

You can find more information about how online therapy can help on BetterHelp.com

Treat the underlying cause

Since postpartum rage is a symptom of a bigger issue, it’s important to establish a treatment plan to get your maternal mental health back in good shape.  Supplement your existing treatment plan with stress-relieving practices like yoga, acupressure or aromatherapy.

Track your moods

Keeping track of your moods can help you to avoid an episode of postpartum rage.  By tracking the fluctuations in your mood on a regular basis, you can start to notice any specific patterns or triggers that cause you additional stress.  Download a printable monthly mood tracker and keep it somewhere easily accessible so that you remember to track your mood each day.

Let it go

Stop holding grudges against people who have hurt or offended you.  Let things that have happened in the past remain there.  Dwelling on a bad situation will only encourage that rage, so learn to just let it all go.  Practicing yoga or meditation, or writing things out can be a great way to release those feelings and let them go.

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Replace rage with laughter

Anytime you feel like bursting out in a fit of rage, just start laughing instead.  Yes, you will look like a crazy person – white walls, straight-jacket, insane asylum crazy person.  Laughter can release that built up energy in the same way that rage can, but it’s less frightening and makes you feel something positive instead.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

Avoid stressful situations

Stress is a big trigger for episodes of postpartum rage.  Try to avoid being put into stressful situations. If it’s the bedtime routine that stresses you out, then maybe it’s time to start sleep training – or have someone else put the kids to bed.  Stay away from online mom groups that discuss controversial topics and choose a support group instead.  You may need to re-evaluate your job, financial situation and/or relationships to see what is causing your stress and find ways to make it better.

How to Avoid the Stress of Sleep Training
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Postpartum rage can be a terrifying thing to deal with.  It’s often misdirected towards spouses or children and can have an effect on those relationships.  It’s important to understand that postpartum rage is a symptom of something bigger and make sure that your loved ones know that as well.  The more everyone understands about maternal mental health issues, the easier it will be to recover from them and the less damage it will do to our lives.

If you find yourself suffering from regular outbursts of postpartum rage, make sure to speak to your doctor about them, even if you are already taking anti-depressants or some other form of treatment.  Certain medications can make postpartum rage worse, so you may need to experiment with what works for you.

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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Additional Resources

Books:

Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood by Molly Caro May.  [Purchase it at Chapters or Amazon]

Articles:

The Scariest Symptom of Postpartum Depression – The Seleni Institute

Postpartum Rage: When You Start to Lose Control – Mothering.com

We Need to Talk About Postpartum Rage – And Why it Happens – Mother.ly

Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper – Mayo Clinic

Mental Health and Anger Management – WebMD

Jordan’s Postpartum Depression Story

Continue reading “Jordan’s Postpartum Depression Story”

Battling Endometriosis while Suffering From Postpartum Depression

Endometriosis is a condition that plagues nearly 10% of women but is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.  Like postpartum depression, endometriosis is something that isn’t talked about enough.  It causes a considerable amount of pain but so many women learn to live with it and don’t seek the proper treatment.  And those who do seek help, are often told it’s nothing, because endometriosis doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or x-rays or ct scans.

While there is no link between endometriosis and postpartum depression, they do have a lot in common:
  • They are affected by hormones
  • They affect women in their childbearing years
  • They are under-diagnosed conditions
  • They are invisible diseases
  • They are stigmatized and need more awareness

Every women’s struggle with endometriosis is different, just like postpartum depression.  Here is MY story…

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from 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.


It was a mere coincidence that both my endometriosis and postpartum depression were diagnosed at the same time, because the two conditions are not exactly linked to each other.  But ever since that diagnosis, they have been intertwined throughout my journey of highs and lows.

It all began when my daughter was 5 months old.  Actually, the postpartum depression symptoms had been going on for a few months already but I was still in denial. 

We took a family trip to Disney World (both kids were still free to get in, so we thought we’d take advantage)!  Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I got my first postpartum period – right there in the Magic Kingdom.  

I was disappointed and annoyed but what else could I do, on this trip of a lifetime, but suck it up and waddle around in blood-soaked pants for the rest of the day?

The next day, we planned to go to Cocoa Beach.  When you’re from the Canadian Prairies, trips to the ocean are few and far between, so I was definitely NOT missing out on it.  I bought the biggest box of tampons I could find and tried my best to enjoy the day.

But the cramping was worse than labor pains and the bleeding was relentless.

I made it through that vacation but the following month was even worse.  I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my doctor, except that it happened to fall on the same day as my daughter’s 6 month checkup.

I was lucky enough to have a great doctor with whom I already had a close relationship, and it was in that appointment that I broke down crying – overcome by the pain of the menstrual cramps and the dark place my mind had been in for the last 6 months.

Based solely on my symptoms, he figured it was endometriosis that was causing the pain and heavy bleeding.  It was the first time I had ever heard the word.  When he told me that it can cause infertility, I actually felt relieved because I had zero desire to have another baby.  He gave me some samples of birth control pills and advised me to take them continuously in an effort to “skip” my periods.

Then we discussed the postpartum depression and came up with a treatment plan.

Prenatal & Postpartum Depression - Vanessa's Story
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I was supposed to follow up with him in a few months to see how things were going.  But by then, we had relocated for my husband’s job – a 9 hour drive away.

For a while, things were alright…

My mind was distracted by the move and I remembered to take my birth control pills everyday, avoiding the painful cramping that accompanied my periods.

Until I ran out of samples.

Trying to find a good doctor in a new town where I didn’t know anyone was tougher than I thought.  So I chose to suffer instead.  I loaded up on painkillers and wore adult diapers to soak up the extreme amounts of blood and just dealt with it.

With each month that passed, the pain got worse and worse.  The cramping started earlier and lasted longer until I was only pain-free for one week each month.  I turned to essential oils for help with the pain, but even their magic wasn’t strong enough.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain
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The chronic pelvic pain exacerbated my postpartum depression symptoms.

I felt defeated by the pain.  I didn’t feel like being strong or fighting through the pain – I hoped and prayed it would just kill me.  I thought about how my daughter might someday experience this kind of pain, and I felt responsible for that.  I felt like all I did was inflict pain on those around me, because I was also in pain.  And I was certain that everyone would be happier, myself included, if I was just gone.

When my year of maternity leave was over, things got better.

I found a job that I loved and began to make friends.  The daycare we chose for the kids was wonderful and they settled into it without any problems.  I appreciated my children more because I cherished the short amount of time we had together each day instead of dreading the long hours of nothingness.

Finally, I was happy!  I pushed through the endometriosis pain every month because I didn’t want anything to destroy my happiness.

But after a year of being happy and ignoring the pain – the pain pushed back.

I couldn’t ignore it anymore and eventually wound up in the emergency room.  Much to everyone’s surprise – I was pregnant!  I guess endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility…

The anxiety began almost immediately.  I didn’t want to go through another HG pregnancy and I definitely worried about dealing with the postpartum depression all over again.  Plus we had just moved again, and hadn’t even bought a house yet.

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Despite the exciting news, the pain was still there… worse even.

The doctors suspected a possible ectopic pregnancy and rushed me into emergency surgery.

When I woke up, I had mixed feelings about losing the baby.  Part of me was relieved to avoid another tough pregnancy, but another part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t get another chance to make things right.

The next day, I found out I was still pregnant.  The pregnancy was a healthy one, and there was nothing they could tell me about the endometriosis because they didn’t want to do anything to disturb the pregnancy.

And so I had my third child.  I suffered from the worst case of hyperemesis gravidarum of all three pregnancies, but for a while, I didn’t have to worry about the menstrual pain.  This time I did everything in my power to prepare myself for postpartum depression again but thankfully was spared from it.  I was given a second chance!  I immediately felt a bond with this baby and she made our family complete.

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I had a good, solid 8 months of bliss with my happy baby before my first postpartum period arrived.

And, in true dream-crushing fashion, it came back on Christmas Eve so I spent most of that night hopped up on painkillers and hovering around the bathroom door in order to change my tampon every 30 minutes.

After another steady 8 months of pill popping, I missed another period.  Oh no, not another pregnancy.  It can’t be.  I can’t do it again.  But the tests were all negative…

My menstrual cycle finally had a nervous breakdown.

It would skip months for no reason and then come every other week.  The pelvic pain got worse and it was no longer limited to my menstrual cycle – it was there 24/7.  I ended up in the emergency room regularly looking for something to help with the pain.  Nothing ever showed up on any of the tests, and I’m certain everyone thought I was a hypochondriac.  Even though I was in an intense amount of pain, I started to wonder if they were right.

The pain triggered the postpartum depression again.

It didn’t help that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, living in a city with no friends or relatives to help me out.  Between the darkness of postpartum depression and the pain of endometriosis, life was very bleak for nearly a full year.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Living with Endometriosis
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I finally met with a specialist.

He instantly validated everything I was feeling and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy to find out what was going on inside of me.  Since he wasn’t sure what he would find, he asked me to sign a form that stated he could perform a hysterectomy if he deemed it medically necessary.  This way, I wouldn’t have to undergo two separate surgeries if I did need one.

We discussed the fact that a hysterectomy would be the worst-case scenario, and I signed the form without hesitation.

In the 6 weeks leading up to my surgery date, I bled continuously.  I should have known then, that more was wrong under the surface than I wanted to admit.  If I had, perhaps I would have been more prepared for what was ahead.

The surgery was supposed to be a laparoscopic day surgery on a Friday.  My husband, kids and I made the 2 hour drive into the city, expecting to stay with family for the weekend and be back home by Monday.

But when I woke up from the surgery, I was told I would not be going home that day.

My doctor came in to see me, head hung, disappointment in his eyes.  He rested his hand on mine and told me that this was the first time he’s ever had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an abdominal incision (minimally invasive surgery was his specialty).

And then he filled me in on what happened in surgery.

He had to remove my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and left ovary.  He left the right ovary so that I would not go into menopause but everything else was stuck together with adhesions and needed to go.  My reproductive organs were attached to the pelvic wall, bladder and bowels which he successfully separated, but there would be scar tissue remaining.  The adhesions had re-routed my blood vessels and so he cut into one while attempting to perform the hysterectomy, causing me to lose nearly 4 units of blood and require a transfusion.

It was the “worst case scenario,” and I felt completely blindsided by what had just happened.  

I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days.  Losing so much blood left me feeling weak and dizzy and moving around was almost impossible.  Once I did get home to my own bed, I couldn’t leave.  Walking up and down stairs was difficult and living in a 4 level split meant I was practically bedridden.  Long after the scar healed, the pain inside my pelvis was excruciating.  I was told to expect to be out of commission for a full 6 weeks but it took more like 8.

Dealing with the sudden loss of my uterus was difficult.  Although I knew I didn’t want to have more children, I liked knowing that it was an option.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my pregnancies and how the place where I grew my children and felt them move and kick was no longer there.

But once I recovered from the surgery, the constant pelvic pain that plagued me for years was finally gone.  It was hard to believe that it was no longer there, I kept poking at it to see if it hurt but no – no more pain!  And I never had to wear another giant tampon or adult diaper ever again.

Most days I forget that I no longer have a uterus.  I still get some symptoms of PMS when my lonely ovary ovulates but it’s nearly impossible to track it without a menstrual cycle.  The fluctuating hormones do still affect my postpartum depression symptoms and I have to take extra care of myself on those days, but otherwise, it’s no longer triggered by constant pain.

Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada
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I’ve been told that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis and there is still a chance that the endometrial tissue could grow back.

So while my battle with endometriosis, as well as my battle with postpartum depression, is over for now – they have changed who I am as a person.

They have both taken things away from me that I can never get back.  They have killed a part of me inside and remain there, dormant, waiting for another opportunity to strike. I will do my best to take care of myself,  to help others who are suffering, and to raise awareness about these two important issues, so that if and when they ever do decide to rear their ugly heads again – I will be ready to fight back.


Endometriosis Resources

Endometriosis.org
WebMD Endometriosis Health Center
Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education Facebook Group
Endometriosis Support Group on Facebook
Hystersisters.com

10 Things Mothers with Postpartum Depression Want You To Know

Postpartum depression, as common as it might be, is widely misunderstood.  No one knows for certain exactly why mothers get postpartum depression and many aren’t even aware of the symptoms.

If there was less stigma and more mothers felt comfortable enough to speak up about their postpartum depression, perhaps the rest of the world would know about it and find ways to help.

In an effort to help others understand more about postpartum depression – here’s a list of 10 things that mothers with postpartum depression want you to know.


A List of 10 Things a Mother with Postpartum Depression Wants You 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.


1. We Are Not Bad Mothers

Mothers with postpartum depression are not prone to hurting their babies.  While there have been cases that ended in tragedy – those mothers were likely suffering from postpartum psychosis, which is much more serious.

We might be seen as “bad” mothers because we didn’t bond with our babies right away, or we seem withdrawn from them or avoid holding them.  These are common symptoms of postpartum depression but it does not mean that we want to harm our child or that we don’t love them as much.

If anything, postpartum depression makes us stronger mothers because we have to fight harder to build a mother-child relationship.

You don’t need to take our babies away from us or be concerned about leaving us alone with them.  If we come to you for help and admit what we are feeling – that makes us a better mother, not a bad one. 

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2. It’s Not In Our Head

Postpartum depression is not just a psychological issue – it’s physical pain, it’s chemical imbalances, it’s uncontrollable hormones.  It’s a total body experience and not just something we imagine.

Positive thinking alone will not get rid of postpartum depression.  It’s important to stay positive to help reduce stress which is a big trigger for symptoms, but there is so much more to it than that.

Many women suffer from disruptions in sleep and appetite, headaches and back pains from stress and tension, nausea and debilitating fatigue.  So the pain is never just “in our head.”

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3. Nothing We Did Caused This

Postpartum depression is NOT our fault.  We didn’t get it because of a traumatic labor or breastfeeding problems or because we didn’t have a good enough support system.

It’s natural to want to find an explanation for what we’re going through and it’s easy to look back on our pregnancies and deliveries and find something to blame for the mess.

While there are several different risk factors that can increase your chances of having postpartum depression, the truth is – even a women with the happiest of pregnancies, easiest of deliveries and biggest support system could still be diagnosed with postpartum depression.  It does not discriminate.

There are studies being conducted to try to determine the cause of postpartum depression but for now – it’s still a mystery as to why some women get it and others do not.

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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4. There Is No Cure

There are plenty of treatment options and ways to control the symptoms but we will never be the same person we were before postpartum depression.

Anti-depressants, therapy, self-care, yoga and meditation, etc., are all important for helping with the symptoms but they will not make postpartum depression go away permanently.  Some women can control their symptoms better than others, but no matter what, we will all have to live with the darkness inside of us for the rest of our lives.

If we’re not careful about following our treatment plans, we could suffer a relapse.

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5. It Can Be Invisible

Just because we don’t seem depressed doesn’t mean we’re not suffering inside.  Postpartum depression can be an invisible disease, which means we don’t have a giant scar or walk with a limp but we are in just as much pain.

Mothers with postpartum depression have gotten very good at putting on a smile to hide the pain and avoid the awkward questions.

Thanks to the stigma around postpartum depression, many mothers won’t even admit to having it for fear of what the world will think of them.

Organizations like 2020Mom and The Blue Dot Project are helping to break down the stigma through campaigns like Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week but they will only be successful if mothers with postpartum depression are willing to let the world know that they exist.  

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6. It’s Not The Same As Postpartum Psychosis

Anytime I hear a story about a new mother taking her life and/or her child’s life, the question arises as to whether or not it’s postpartum psychosis.  While postpartum depression can cause mothers to feel suicidal, postpartum psychosis can cause hallucinations during which a mother isn’t even herself. They are two different diseases and psychosis is a severe medical emergency.

Postpartum psychosis leads a mother to have hallucinations and hear voices in their heads.  They are often a danger to themselves and those around them, including their children, because of their unpredictable behavior.  They are not aware of what they are doing, and if left untreated – can end in tragedy.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis and know the difference.  This article from Postpartum Progress does the best job at explaining it.

Here’s an article from Huffingtonpost with regards to the movie “Tully” portraying a woman diagnosed with postpartum depression when really, she suffers from postpartum psychosis.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal .


7. Don’t Take Things Personally

Postpartum depression can manifest itself in different ways.  Fits of uncontrollable rage is a lesser known symptom and can cause a lot of strain on relationships.

When we are riding the emotional roller coaster that is postpartum depression, it’s easy to lose control and lash out.  But until our symptoms are under control with a proper treatment plan, it’s best not to take the things we say and do personally.

The urge to push people away and withdraw into ourselves is strong with postpartum depression, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we actually want.

In fact, a support system is something we need now more than ever.

9 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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8. It’s easier to talk to strangers

Please don’t feel offended if we don’t want to talk to you about what we’re going through.  It’s much easier to talk to strangers who have been through it before, such as a therapist or online support group.

They understand what we mean and won’t judge us.  We know you don’t mean to judge us, but unless you know what it feels like to be inside the head of a crazy person, you couldn’t possibly understand.

Some of the best “strangers” to talk to are available through the PSI Helpline (call or text!)

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9. We Need Your Help

Even if we don’t want to talk to you, we still need your help to get through this.  Postpartum depression is a tough fight and it’s even harder to fight alone.  There are so many ways that you can help us, but it’s very hard for us to tell you what they are.

The biggest way that you can help us is by trying to understand what we’re going through.  And even if you don’t understand, stand by us and support us no matter what.

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10. Please Don’t Abandon Us

Mothers with postpartum depression make for some of the worst company.  We’re weepy and emotional.  We rarely smile or laugh.  We’re tired all the time, or angry and annoyed.  We dodge your phone calls and cancel dinner plans.  We don’t blame you for not wanting to hang out with us…

Withdrawing from society is a major symptom of postpartum depression and it’s out of our control.

But we hope that, when we do finally feel better, you will still be there waiting for us on the other side of the darkness.

Gift ideas for the mother with postpartum depression
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10 Things Moms with Postpartum Depression Want You to Know
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Katey’s Postpartum Depression Story

Continue reading “Katey’s Postpartum Depression Story”