I love my baby, but I keep feeling sad….
By Gina Cipriano
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is what is used to assist practitioners in determining if a specific diagnosis is applicable to someone. Postpartum depression would be diagnosed as major depressive disorder with peripartum onset. This means that symptoms of depression were occurring during pregnancy or a month following the pregnancy. However, postpartum depression can have a later onset than four weeks after giving birth (Anokye et al., 2018).
Symptoms of PPD:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest
- Changes in weight
- Changes in sleep
- Inability to think clearly
- Thoughts of death by suicide
Many new moms may feel guilt for having feelings of depression. However, if a new mom was in a room with 100 people, about 10-15 of those people would be having similar symptoms as her (Anokye et al., 2018). All this to say, you are not alone, and you are not a bad mom for having these symptoms. Having children and giving birth is portrayed as a wonderful time that is to be celebrated, which leaves new mothers feeling guilty. Scharp and Thomas (2017) found that moms felt they were expected to be self-sacrificing, only have positive emotions, and immediately feel a bond and love towards their children. However, other moms expressed that making sure they were taking care of themselves AND their children, allowing themselves to experience feelings such as depression, and taking time to develop their bond and love for their children was the most positive way to parent their child (Scharp & Thomas, 2017). Ultimately, there is no one “right” way to be a mom, no matter what cultural expectations are.
Additionally, postpartum depression is a treatable condition. There are several theories and methods a clinician may take to assist someone in working through their depression:
- Pharmacological treatments are available, but some moms may want to make the choice to breastfeed. Again, this is a choice on what a mom feels are best for her and her baby so choosing medication in the treatment of depression is not the “wrong” choice.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can be used as a way to alter thoughts and behaviors to improve feelings.
- Feminist therapy: Feminist therapy can assist a mother in understanding the cultural pressures that come with motherhood (Beck, 2002). Treatment can entail assisting the mom recognize their individual strengths as a mom and finding their new identity within motherhood (Beck, 2002).
- Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy (EFT): EFT can assist both partners discuss their emotions appropriately so that they can support each other through the process of child rearing (Beck, 2002). Additionally, it can assist the couple in recognizing negative patterns of communication, the purpose these patterns serve, and how they can alter these negative patterns to more positive forms of interaction.
- Support Groups: Support groups can assist a new mother in recognizing she is not alone in her feelings. During these groups, difficulties with motherhood can be discussed and the group can serve as a point to reduce the shame a mom feels in relation to depression.
Anokye, R., Acheampong, E., Budu-Ainooson, A., Obeng, E. I., & Akwasi, A. G. (2018). Prevalence of postpartum depression and interventions utilized for its management. Annals of General Psychiatry, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12991-018-0188-0
Beck, C. T. (2002). Theoretical perspectives of postpartum depression and their treatment implications. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 27(5).
Scharp, K. M., & Thomas, L. J. (2017). “What would a loving mom do today?”: Exploring the meaning of motherhood in stories of prenatal and postpartum depression. Journal of Family Communication, 17(4), 401-414. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2017.1355803
Call us for a therapist for postpartum depression in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, and North Palm Beach.