If asked to associate words or phrases with motherhood, few would use the words darkness to describe the experience but in reality about 1 in 7 women dealing with post partum depression/other perintal mood disorders might. For starters, Post Partum Depression is different than the baby blues which is a normal period of adjustment for up to 80% of new moms who experience mood and sleep changes, sudden weepiness as well as hormone fluctuations. By 2-3 weeks, the symptoms often resolve on their own.
For those moms who continue to feel badly after this time, they are likely dealing with postpartum depression or other perintal mood/ psychotic or anxiety disorder; characterized by a wide variety of symptoms like changes in appetite, sleep(not sleeping when the baby is sleeping), loss of motivation/interest, inability to care of self and/or child, not feeling a connection to the baby, seeing/hearing things that others don’t, having racing thoughts, scary thoughts about harm coming to your child, intense worry, excessive guilt or self blame, thoughts of self harm or suicide occurring most days than not for at least 2 weeks and up to a year or longer after a baby is born.
These symptoms vary from mild, moderate to severe and are highly treatable with therapy along with expanding a person’s social/care network, and if needed seeking medication or hospitalization. Oftentimes many women are going untreated largely due to the stigma of moms admitting they are struggling with motherhood and not enjoying it as the commercials and baby books swore they would. Getting help and reaching out might seem to take too much time or effort especially when dealing with an infant but in reality taking care of yourself will ultimately help you feel better and more equipped to deal with the normal challenges of motherhood and adjustments in your family. Partners can also present with similar symptoms of Post Partum Depression and are also worthy of help and care.
Due to the staggering numbers of women suffering vs. those who get help, Postpartum Progress an Organization dedicated to education, support and information launched a Hike called Climb out of the Darkness in 2012 to raise awareness. funds and support for moms and their families on the longest day of the year to show that recovery is possible and getting help shows strength not weakness. I will be participating for the 2nd year in a row with a team that will be gathering at the Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in North Salem NY on June 20th at 10 am. Anyone is able to join the team at no cost or to donate if you support the cause because no one should have to suffer alone!
Lindsay S. D’Ascoli, LCSW
Lindsay is Licensed Clinical Social Worker, practicing at the Light House Retreat and Wellness Center. She uses cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and creative arts methods in her work to help teens, women and moms manage anxiety, mood instability depression, trauma, family and relationship issues. For an appointment, please call 914-589-7188.