Stacy Hepner, CNM, certified nurse midwife, Intermountain Healthcare – Budge Clinic
Up to 85% of women get postpartum blues, which is common, mild, and lasts less than two weeks. With the blues you may notice yourself crying over seemingly small and insignificant things. Of that 85%, up to 30% turn from blues into postpartum depression, which is more severe and long-lasting. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, or if you have thoughts of harming your baby, it is time to seek additional professional help if you have not already done so. These disorders are not limited to pregnant and postpartum women alone. If you come to discuss mental health with me, we will discuss the “tool belt.”
It can be difficult to acknowledge and tell others about your struggle with postpartum depression. Parenthood is a much celebrated, and often romanticized, experience in our culture. Mothers with postpartum depression may frequently wonder “what is wrong with me?” or be hesitant to admit that they are experiencing anything other than joy and sleep disruption. It is important to remember that almost one in three woman who have recently given birth have feelings of sadness, are overwhelmed, frequently feel worried or panicky, or are filled with self-doubt and blame.
There are many modalities that you and your clinician can incorporate to address mental health. While medication can be efficacious in treating mood disturbances and can increase neurotransmitter availability in our brains that are important for mood, thoughts, and feeling regulation, it is imperative to use several approaches and put as many tools in your tool belt as possible. In addition, while symptom management is important, analyzing the root cause of your symptoms is significant as you attempt to build skills to enhance coping and improve overall wellbeing. Exercise (30 minutes 5 days a week) has been shown to be an effective treatment. Therapy, self care, sleep hygiene, and establishing meaningful relationships are a few of the tools we might discuss in helping you in your journey with mental health struggles.
Having a support group of individuals who can empathize with your challenges can be helpful; however, it is essential not to compare your journey to other people’s. Lastly, changing the way you view mental health struggles can alone be empowering. Instead of focusing on the stigma that mental health carries or the negative symptoms you are experiencing, try looking at anxiety and depression as opportunities to learn and grow. People who live with these conditions often learn to manage their symptoms by becoming kind, thoughtful, observant, and empathic to others. As you improve your coping skills and adjust the contributing factors that could be potentially magnifying the anxiety and depression, these kind, empathic, thoughtful, and observant qualities are attributes that can enhance the lives of others and yourself for the better as you go through your journey and help others. Embracing these struggles can be achieved as we change the way we look mental health. If you are struggling, please reach out and we will be here to help in any way we can.
Intermountain Healthcare has various resources in place to support all types of mental health concerns. If you don’t know where to start, please call the Behavioral Health Services Navigation line at 833.442.2211.
Resources: Norwitz ER, and Lye SJ. Biology of parturition. Thomas R. Moore, Charles J. Lockwood. Creasy and Resnick’s Maternal Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice, edited by Robert K. Creasy RR, Jay D. Iams ; associate editors. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. 19103- 2899.