Yep, that's me up there...
There I was with my brand new baby ( who was actually smiling.. super cute if I do say so myself.. )
This was my second and last daughter, Adalynn. You see, PP Depression was so severe for me with my oldest daughter, Ana, that I couldn't even be happy when I first found out I was pregnant again with Adalynn. I was terrified and even angry. I literally waited to even tell my husband for like a month!
If you want to read MY JOURNEY with PP Depression then click here.
All of this to say before we jump into the facts of PPD... I have been there Mama. I know... I see you. I feel you. I get you. You are NOT alone. Two years later and I still battle PTSD, PPD and PPA. I still have days where I have to force my self to go eat something.. brush my teeth.. take a shower.. all of it. Because I am just SO TIRED. but anyways... Thank you for taking the time to read my story... I am hoping together we can make a step in the direction of ending the stigma surrounding PP Mental Health.
I trust what Dr. Cooper said more than anything and I am SO thankful she took the time to answer some of these questions that most mamas have cross their minds at some point in their PP Depression Journey.
So take a look at what she has to say about the truth behind PPD.
1) For starters.. in a brief explantation .. What IS PP Depression? What is the biological response our bodies go through that cause this? In my understanding it is a neurotransmitter imbalance. Our bodies are not regulating or reproducing serotonin/dopamine properly and therefore, causes depression and cortisol is higher... Is this what it really is behind the scenes? or.. behind the label so to speak?
"Depression and anxiety are associated with changes in both serotonin and dopamine levels. All of the ` contributing factors are not well understood, but we do know that sudden drop in estrogen plays a role in triggering postpartum mood disorders." - Dr. Cooper
2) With my understanding mentioned before... does a medication like Zoloft (SSRI- Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) hold onto the "happy hormone" a little bit longer while our bodies are reproducing more? A way to try and keep up with itself? Also, What are you thoughts on using this drug during pregnancy for moms who have experienced PPD in a past pregnancy as well as breastfeeding mothers? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
"Yes, SSRIs inhibit the uptake of Seratonin so that levels remain higher. I do believe that benefits outweigh the risks for SSRIs in pregnancy if a mother has symptomatic depression and anxiety and I recommend that those with a history of postpartum depression or anxiety start an SSRI immediately after delivery even if they are not yet symptomatic." - Dr. Cooper
3) Why is it so important to reach out to your healthcare provider if you believe that you may be developing PPD or PPA?
"Postpartum depression and anxiety affect one's ability to care for themselves in addition to affecting bonding and care for one's baby. In extreme cases it can lead to psychosis, suicide or homicide. It is a treatable disorder that carries serious health risks." -Dr. Cooper
4) What are the Key differences in Baby Blues, PPD, PPA, and PP Psychosis? What causes it and who is most at risk?
"Baby blues is a slight increase in depressive symptoms occurring in the first two weeks postpartum. The symptoms are generally mild and resolve spontaneously. Postpartum depression and anxiety exist on a spectrum and often occur together. Symptoms include appetite and sleep disturbance, intrusive thoughts, lack of interest and enjoyment of activities, are moderate or severe and adversely affect quality of life. Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric emergency in which symptoms of high mood and racing thoughts, depression, severe confusion, loss of inhibition, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions set in. Risk factors for PPD, PPA and PP psychosis include a previous history of depression and anxiety, previous history of a postpartum mood disorder and a family history of mental illness. About 50% of women who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder, however, have no risk factors at all." - Dr. Cooper
5) What is the time frame that PPD can develop?
"PPD can develop anywhere from 2 weeks postpartum to up to a year postpartum. It is important to remember that pregnancy related mood disorders exist on this same spectrum and can occur at any time in pregnancy, but particularly in the late second and early third trimester." - Dr. Cooper
6) What should a mom do if their partner or family is unsupportive and insisting that PP mental health is not real biological thing but a choice? How can family be educated on the signs and symptoms?
"It is important that a pregnant or postpartum person's family and support system understand the biological components of pregnancy related mood disorders so that women are not dissuaded from seeking treatment. Inviting your family to an appointment with your doctor or midwife so that their questions can be answered may help. Also, many support groups will welcome family members and support people. There are resources online and documentaries which may be helpful for family as well." - Dr. Cooper
7) Could PPD be compared to Diabetes? For example... Some Women's bodies do not regulate the hormones/neurotransmitters properly and require a little extra help to keep everything in balance... Just like some peoples bodies don't regulate Insulin properly and require extra insulin to keep everything in balance... A good way to show a similar way that someones body may need help regulating something that is not in their direct control.
"Yes, I think that is a fair comparison. Like diabetes and hypertension the disease processes are multifactorial and often cannot be controlled with lifestyle choices alone." - Dr. Cooper
8) Are there any ways to prevent PPD?
"There are ways to manage stress and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen can help reduce risk of PPD as well. However, there are factors such as hormonal changes and sleep disturbance that are outside of our control." -Dr. Cooper
9) How much of an impact does hormonal birth control make with PPD?
"Risk of mood disorders seem to be higher with progestin only contraception, but the connections are not well studied." - Dr. Cooper
10) Many Christians tell moms that they should just pray more.. or have more faith... What would you say to moms who feel shamed by the spiritual leaders in their lives as well as what would you say to the Spiritual Leaders? PPD is not a choice or related to amount of faith.
"I would say just that. PPD is not a choice and it affects people of faith just as often as it affects those without faith." - Dr. Cooper
11) If you could tell Pregnant Mamas ONE thing regarding PPD what would it be? How long does PPD typically last?
"I try to emphasize to women who are experiencing mood disorders that they are not alone in feeling this way as mood disorders are very common in pregnancy and postpartum. I want them to know that there are treatments available and this is not a disease process that one can just "power through." I advise remaining on treatment at least one year postpartum to avoid a higher risk of relapse." - Dr. Cooper
Wow.. that was a lot of eye opening info. Huge thank you to Dr. Cooper for taking the time out of her crazy busy schedule to answer these questions for us.
If you are in search of an OBGYN then I highly highly recommend Dr. Cooper and her team of Midwives at the Simon Williamson Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.
Please share this info on your social media. It is crucial that the moms in our community not suffer in silence. You can do that by clicking the little icon below!
From one Mama to another,