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Understanding Postpartum Depression

“I knew the birth of my children would change me as a person, but I had no idea it would completely turn my world upside down. It was terrifying and overwhelming, and I can confidently say it was the most difficult year-and-a-half of my life.”

Deanna Silva faced postpartum depression 15 months after giving birth to twins. Not only was her routine and sleep schedule disrupted, she was crying every day and felt unfit to be a mother.

Deanna is not alone. Approximately 21.9 percent of women will experience depression during their first postpartum year. That’s nearly one in five postpartum women around you who might be struggling.

Having a baby can trigger a variety of intense emotions, from excited and happy to overwhelmed and anxious. Women face hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibilities of caring for a child that can contribute to these intense emotions and the chance for postpartum depression. Having had a previous episode of depression increases risk for postpartum depression and symptoms often already are present during pregnancy.

This is why it’s critical we all know and understand the signs and symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression are the same for women who are pregnant or postpartum. However, depression during this time has a unique impact on not only the mother, but also the mother-infant relationship and on the child’s cognitive and emotional development.

It can be scary to face feelings of depression while taking care of a newborn, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as many as 1 million moms face postpartum depression each year in the United States. These women can serve as support through organizations like Postpartum Support International.

You can also seek professional help. There are many effective treatments available for depression, ranging from self-help strategies to counseling to medication. Treatment not only helps the mother’s symptoms, but also can improve the mother-child relationship and the child’s cognitive development.

If you’re still unsure if you or your loved one is facing postpartum depression, talk to a health professional. You can also take a Mental Health First Aid course. Mental Health First Aid teaches people about risk factors and warning signs of depression, what to do if your loved one is struggling with depression and where to turn for peer and professional help.

Two months after seeking help for her postpartum depression, Deanna started seeing a therapist and joined a support group. And now, five years later, she has overcome her postpartum depression and chooses to #BeTheDifference and help other moms around the country. You can too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and #BeTheDifference today.

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