Maternal Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It

It’s time to have a conversation about Perinatal Depression. Perinatal depression occurs during pregnancy and after birth. It’s a feeling that is all too real and common amongst pregnant and postpartum women. At its core, it is depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, a psychological adjustment to motherhood and fatigue. First off, you as a mother are not alone, and it is not your fault. There are so many other moms out there who feel the same way you do. In fact, 1 in 7 women will experience depression during pregnancy or after birth. #momsmatter

Here are some symptoms to look out for are:

  • Fatigue, feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Losing interest in things that you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • No interest in your baby
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

The first step is to IDENTIFY these feelings and acknowledge that something does not feel right. Although this may seem difficult, it is going to help you to feel like yourself again sooner. This can be hard for many women, but it is one of the most important realizations you can have. The sooner that you are aware that something is wrong, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery.

The next step is ASKING for help. Many times women try to deal with perinatal depression by themselves and believe they can handle this alone. Others hope that ignoring such red flags will make the bad feelings go away. Unfortunately, perinatal depression is not something that simply disappears, it is something that must to be addressed and treated seriously so that mom can enjoy motherhood the way she deserves to.

There are several different treatment options available to address perinatal depression including support groups, talk therapy, medication and alternative therapies amongst others. According to research, the following practices and activities have proven to be successful to help women improve their likelihood of having a happy and healthy pregnancy and post childbirth experience. These practices and activities include:

  • Talking to someone you trust
  • Exercising, eating healthy
  • Engaging with other mothers and joining mothering groups
  • Being intentionally positive – focusing positive feelings towards being a mom, performing acts of kindness and expressing gratitude

Because perinatal depression can range in severity, it is very important that any woman experiencing these symptoms seek help from a professional or with her health care provider. The Postpartum Health Alliance is a local San Diego hotline than can be reached at 619-254-0023. Other national lines include Postpartum Support International 800-994-4PPD (4773), PPD Moms 800-PPD-MOMS (800-773-6667) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 800-950-NAMI (6264).

As a mother, you and your newborn child deserve to feel better in order to achieve your best. I will end with a quote that I believe is important for all women suffering with perinatal depression, “Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am” Bryce Dallas Howard.

Alethea Arguilez
Executive Director