5. What things made your postpartum depression worse?
Sleep deprivation was the worst. If I had a rough night up with the baby, I was a wreck the next day. – Vanessa
Staying at home. I thought it was better if I didn’t bother other people with my screaming baby or my lack of joy and enthusiasm. In return, it just made me even more alone, sad, and used to the isolated life, resulting in a suffering marriage because I “was doing everything alone and didn’t need anybody’s help” which just made my depression even worse. – Anonymous
Lack of support from friends and family, most either didn’t get it and kept minimizing, saying ‘all mums feel that way, it’s normal’. Others just avoided me completely because they were frightened of me being ill. – Alexandra
Family, work and bills. My relationship with my spouse has been destroyed because of my PPD. It just made it harder because what I was struggling with was silence and people thought that’s just who I am. So I didn’t want to be around family or anyone. I felt judged and defeated. I felt alone and scared and my fight or flight heightened and I was ready to fight anyone. – Amber
Guilt from my c-section and not being able to breastfeed as long as I wanted to, and feeling judgement for all of my parenting decisions from my family. – Anonymous
Evening time and being alone. – Nicole
Feeling like I wasn’t in control. – Anonymous
SSRIs. – Brittany
Hiding it from everyone. – Jodi
Baby crying. – Anonymous
People not understanding. – Ashley G.
Feeling like I didn’t love my baby. – Anonymous
Lack of sleep, lack of support, not taking my meds. – Amanda
Negative people, any little thing that went wrong, fighting with my husband. – Anonymous
I thought this was the new me and I was going to be like that forever. It was debilitating and that turned into me having awful thoughts about how my husband and daughter would be better off without me. I went from working full time to a SAHM and that adjustment was really hard. Breastfeeding didn’t go as planned and it was too mentally difficult – Katy
Comparing myself to other moms and not enough self care. – Samantha
Not having my children around and if at the end of the day something was left unmade I felt I was failing. I felt that my children deserved someone better.– Anonymous
Drinking. I tried to go out for a nice dinner with my husband or a night with the girls. One drink or 3, I was a mess didn’t get out of bed for days. – Melissa
Being alone with the baby, having to run a small business at the same time, not being prepared for how I’d feel. – Marcella
Sleep deprivation 100%, and any conflict with my husband (even silly things) I would explode. – Anonymous
Being alone and at night in the quiet. – Emily
Social media. Not having a support system. My c-section. Dog guilt. Breastfeeding. Living in an apartment. – Lorena from Motherhood Unfiltered
Breastfeeding and having to stay inside during winter – Chelsea
The weather. It’s winter right now and the extreme cold makes it nearly impossible to go out unless it’s to the mall or any other variety of retail stores. It gets very mundane after a while and which makes it all the harder to get up everyday. – Kathryn
I got help extremely quickly, so I didn’t have triggers. – Anonymous
Thinking I could convince myself I was fine. – Krista
Giving in to my desire to sleep. If I nap during the day when my PPD is bad, it feels ten times worse when I wake up. Other triggers are not eating (which was a huge issue for me at first because my meds made me not feel hungry) or not getting enough water. – Leah Elizabeth from Lottie & Me
My spouse. – Jessica
Lack of sleep. – Theresa
Noise. Noise, noise, noise. Any noise made me irate. In a general sense, the first and second day of my period were the darkest days. I could mark it on the calendar—I knew I was going to feel completely numb and want to die for two days every month. Eventually, I was able to track this and get support during that time, but until I had that level of agency I was a mess every 29 days. – Amanda from Mom Like Me
Crying baby, not enough sleep, toddler plus a baby has been a hard transition, migraines, anxiety, anger, wouldn’t talk to anyone, thoughts of hurting myself or the baby…which I never did…but scares me that I thought it. – Anonymous
When people didn’t support me and made false accusations, calling me unfit and being on drugs because I didn’t sleep. – Jacqueline from Planning in the Deep
Watching other people care for my child because I just couldn’t do it – Haylie
Lack of sleep. My son has always been a horrible sleeper and cried SO much and only wanted ME if anyone else tried to help him he’d get 100 times more intense – Crystal from Heart and Home Doula
Conflict in relationships, struggles with baby’s developmental stages, lack of support. – Anonymous
Baby crying, less sleep. – Anonymous
My partner not doing what I needed from him or causing fights when I already felt low. – Anonymous
Expectations put on me by friends and society in general. Expectations that I would be immediately in love with my baby, that this would be the happiest time in my life. – Anonymous
Sleep deprivation, not having nearly enough help, having some serious communication issues with my husband, having a less than supportive family. – Eda
Getting overwhelmed by tasks, outings and not being able to do the things I used to do much more easily. – Anonymous
The abusive relationship I was in with my children’s father. I was pregnant/postpartum for years on end so I couldn’t see clearly the issue, I always blamed myself. – Kathleen
Stress. (When my husband was upset that the house was messy, or I was running late with the kids for something) – Stephanie
Not having time to myself, not having any space, staying at home with the baby, not having any friends going through the same things. What made it really bad was the feeling that I am stuck being a mom for the rest of my life and I made a huge mistake. – Yonat from Embodied Therapy Santa Rosa
My family. My baby’s health demands. – Beth
Certain “triggers” can cause postpartum depression symptoms to flare up.
This can be extremely frustrating for a mother who works hard on a daily basis to keep her symptoms under control. We take care of ourselves, take our medication, do yoga, eat right, drink water – only for something to set us back again. Sleep deprivation, isolation, breastfeeding, marital and financial stress, or even a judgmental comment from a well-meaning relative can trigger symptoms we thought were gone for good.
What can we do to change this?
While we may never be able to eliminate certain triggers from our life, we should recognize them as just that. Focus on that one factor that makes your symptoms worse and make whatever changes are necessary to avoid it. Sleep deprivation caused by a newborn baby does ease up eventually. Don’t feel guilty if you need to stop breastfeeding. Avoiding certain people or conversations for the benefit of your mental health may seem rude, but it can be worth it in the long run. The more openly we talk about maternal mental health, the better our loved ones will be able to support and understand us.