Tag: PPD

Can I get Postpartum Depression after the first year?

New Mom and Baby in the postpartum period

Lately we have had moms getting in touch with us to ask, “Can I get Postpartum Depression (PPD) after the first year?” This is almost always followed by their own admission that their kids are above 1 year, but they do not still feel like themselves, and they wanted to know if we would help.

Granted, it is not possible to make a diagnosis over the phone, neither is it possible to offer a general statement for all of the moms who reach out to ask for help. To answer this question, it is imperative to define postpartum depression as one of the perinatal anxiety and mood disorders.

What is Postpartum depression?

A literature review on the WHO website defines postpartum depression as a common mood disorder that affects moms up to the first year after child birth. Contrary to popular belief, PPD does not just affect moms with newborns. Since it lasts up to a year after birth, it can affect moms whose kids are way past the infancy stage. Additionally, the ‘one year after delivery’ time frame is not cast in stone either.

Read More: Depression during pregnancy – here’s what you need to know

There is mounting evidence that in many cases, PPD could be the result of mental illness that remained undiagnosed before the pregnancy. An article in the Journal of Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience underpins these findings:


The onset of PPD is usually within the first few months after childbirth, although some women report onset of symptoms during pregnancy. 

For some moms, antenatal depression (also known as pregnancy depression) that is left untreated may also progress to PPD. When you consider the numerous changes that a woman’s body goes through during the postpartum period, it is easy to see why pre-existing mental illness can get severe. These changes include drastic hormonal changes, lack of sleep, lochia, breastfeeding and all the typical stressors that come with new motherhood.

The Postpartum Period

According to Postpartum Progress, the use of prepartum and postpartum typically refers to the period during pregnancy and in the year after delivery. It is important, however, to mention that certain stressors may lead to the characteristic symptoms of PPD even after the one year mark. These stressors may include sleep deprivation, weaning from breastfeeding, financial constraints and abuse among others.

As Postpartum Progress explains, “A postpartum episode of depression or anxiety can be triggered by one or more of the above. While they aren’t aware of this when they first call, most of these moms can trace their initial symptoms back to the earliest moments of motherhood.”

Why is all this important? It matters that moms have this information. It is easy to feel resigned to fate – the fate of not been able to enjoy motherhood. Some moms will even wonder whether they are ‘too silly’ or ‘too emotional’ to ask for help and support. Time continues to pass by, with each day bringing more overwhelm and anxiety.

How will I know whether it is Postpartum Depression or the Baby Blues?

The truth is that there is no shame in having Postpartum depression, whether you are a mama to a newborn or a one-year old. It doesn’t matter what age your baby is – if you feel like you need help it is best to talk to someone.

Many new moms will often wonder if what they are experiencing is the baby blues or postpartum depression. We have previously covered this topic, which you can read in this post. But to provide a rundown, the baby blues are a short-lived condition in which a new mom may feel emotional/ overwhelmed/ weepy after having a baby. This condition typically lasts for about two weeks, and therefore requires no treatment.

Read More: These are the symptoms of Postpartum Depression to look out for

PPD however, is more intense and interferes with a mom’s ability to carry out daily activities and bond with her baby. PPD lasts up to a year (or longer if undiagnosed), and therefore requires medical attention. It is also one of the most common maternal mental illnesses, affecting about 1 in every 7 mothers. Many moms tend to think that PPD is ‘not that severe’ and ‘will pass on its own’. This is not true, as moms with PPD need help and support to make a recovery.

PS: We share information, resources and events regularly on our social media pages. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we raise awareness on maternal mental illness.

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#PPDMyStory – One Kenyan Mom’s story and how she got help

African mom and baby, postpartum depression

We are starting a new series titled #PPDMyStory where we will be sharing life stories of moms with Postpartum Depression, their motherhood journey and how they are recovering/ recovered. This is in line with our efforts to sensitize the community on maternal mental health and to raise awareness for Postpartum Depression (PPD).

#PPDMyStory

Today’s entry comes from one of the moms who we have had in our support group sessions. She requested anonymity, so we will simply share her story as she did.

You recently had a baby, how was pregnancy?

My pregnancy had few complications. However, I enjoyed the last two trimesters because I did not experience intense morning sickness like I had been experiencing in the first trimester. In the last few weeks, I experienced some intense feelings of physical discomfort and this was made worse when I got really bad news about two weeks before I gave birth.

Read More: 8 things no one tells you about pregnancy

Your baby is 2 years old now, how has the experience been with him?

My experience with the baby has been more blissful than I thought it would have been. Initially I thought that I was never capable of loving this new human being but I have grown to learn what he likes and what he doesn’t. I have also grown to dedicate moments where we spend time together just to bond and appreciate each other’s existence on earth. Being a mother to my son is the most amazing experience ever.

A few months after birth you started feeling that something was off, that it was more than just baby blues. Please share with us about that period.

Getting sad news just two weeks to delivery made me question if I was ready to be a solo parent. It made me question my capabilities and I gradually started to feel like I had let down a small human being who had no idea of what I was going through. I gradually sunk into a state of physical numbness and emotional turmoil, and stopped enjoying activities I used to love like writing or going out with friends.

Waking up was dreadful, and during some moments I would play out thoughts of cutting my existence for good. I felt worthless. My self esteem took a plunge and I could not bring myself to work (as a freelance writer) because the voices in my head were constantly playing out situations that were far-fetched and independent of my reality.

When did you learn that it wasn’t just feeling off, that you had Postpartum Depression?

I came to the realization that these were not baby blues or just feeling off after 9 months of stagnation in my daily life. Things were crushing in my reality. I got to a point I could not effectively handle the bills, all my savings were almost depleted, I was in a constant state of despair, guilt and regret and to top it all I never wanted to live any longer.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

What symptoms did you experience? What did you feel during this time?

Some of the symptoms I experienced include:

  • Feeling helpless and out of control
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of interest in activities I once enjoyed
  • Intense guilt and feelings of regret
  • Weight gain
  • Constant exhaustion but total lack of sleep
  • Constant sadness and moments where I would cry without a distinct reason
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling like I am a bad mother for not being happy and grateful for this new bundle of joy
  • Intrusive thoughts of harming myself and having someone better take care of the baby

How did you get help? What kind of support did you receive?

I was referred to Samoina of PPDKenya by a mutual friend and after a few weeks of direct communication with her, she recommended that I attend some group therapy sessions that were organised for both young moms and dads with signs of PPD. Initially she had recommended that I seek individual counselling sessions but I was a bit hesitant to open up so I eventually felt like the group therapy sessions would help me open up. After attending the group sessions I was subscribed for a series of additional individual sessions with the therapist for about three months and I was accorded thorough emotional and psychological support.

What about your healthcare provider? Was anyone able to pick up your symptoms?

My healthcare provider at the time did not pick any symptoms mainly because when a mother goes to clinic after childbirth the focus is normally on the wellness of the baby. There is also the general assumption that is made, that the mother is okay, while they may not be.

Looking back, what risk factors do you think predisposed you to PPD?

My biggest risk factor that triggered depression was an unsupportive partner. This drained me a lot. In addition, I was constantly exhausted due to lack of good sleep.

Read More: Out of This Life – A Photo Exhibition on Suicide in Kenya

What positive coping mechanisms have worked for you in your recovery journey so far?

Positive self-talk is a winner for sure. I used to love myself before conception but when PPD hit me hard I hated how I looked and even how I felt inside. After therapy, I am able to refute negative thoughts about my being and during moments when I feel overwhelmed, I always remind myself that I am in control (among other positive affirmations). I have grown to embrace meditation as part of my daily routine where I get in touch with my soul and I also get to let go of what no longer serves me.

In addition, I also engage in daily physical exercises which play a big role in breaking tension in moments when I feel otherwise. I journal long-term and short term goals to keep me motivated to work and achieve something tangible. I stick to a distinct schedule which also includes time for me to take naps and a quality time to sleep.  Also, I have gradually revived my spiritual life which was typically dead.

What encouragement would you give to a mom who has PPD, or an expectant woman on how to take care of her mental health during pregnancy?

Post Partum Depression (PPD) is a mental health condition that should not necessarily be a death sentence. As a woman, many factors can predispose one to PPD hence one should be keen to look out for distinct symptoms and at the onset of PPD seek psychotherapy/counselling. In addition, there are various inexpensive ways of seeking professional help as offered through PPDKenya.

What one thing do you wish you knew about PPD before your experience?

I wish that I knew what PPD is, its symptoms and how to protect myself from the trigger factors that initially sent me into a extended period of depression.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and with other moms. We hope your journey will encourage a mom who is scared of asking for help. Would you like to share your story on our website? Please get in touch on email: ppdkenya@gmail.com with the subject ‘PPD My Story’

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5 tips for managing Postpartum Depression during the holidays

The holidays are favorite time of the year for many people. There is a sense of joy that fills the air as families seek to spend time together and make special memories. It is meant to be a wonderful time, of good holiday cheer. But for women with Postpartum Depression (PPD), it is not always easy.

For mothers suffering PPD or any other perinatal mood disorder, the holidays and festivities may only serve to intensify the symptoms associated with the condition. Contributing factors vary from one mom to another, but have a significant bearing on a mom’s mental health.

How do the holidays affect moms with PPD?

Add to this the typical stress that comes along with the holidays, and it is easy to see how these factors may increase the symptoms of PPD. Some of the symptoms of PPD include fatigue, loss of appetite, lack of adequate sleep, irritability, guilt feelings and hopelessness. These symptoms tend to intensify over the holidays. Additionally, the feeling that one needs to be cheerful or grateful may exacerbate the symptoms of PPD. It is difficult to smile and be happy when you are not, and everyone else is in a festive mood.

Below are five handy tips to help the mom with PPD get through the holidays:

  1. Engage your supporting system

The festivities come with a long to-do list. It is often overwhelming to think about all that needs to be done. Whether that is visiting relatives upcountry, hosting family and friends or simply spending time with family, these activities can be draining. One of the practical steps that you can take to manage PPD during the holidays is to take only what you can handle. Be careful to set limits – you cannot do it all, and neither should you.

Do not be afraid to ask for help and to lean on your support system, however that looks like for you. If it means reducing the number of guests, traveling a few days before or simply enlisting the help of close relatives if hosting guests – whatever that means, be sure to take measures to manage the load.

Read More: Moms share 5 things they wish they knew about Postpartum Depression

  1. Selfcare is important

Selfcare refers to the things or activities that promote your emotional and mental wellbeing. Simply put, it means making yourself a priority because it is only through selfcare that moms are able to better their mental health, and in effect, take care of their families.

Selfcare during the holidays is especially important for moms with Postpartum Depression. It is okay to step away if you feel you need some time for yourself. Instead of sitting and pretending that you do not need some time alone, it is okay to excuse yourself and take a moment’s breather as often as you need to. For some moms, unplugging from the Internet is the way to go. While keeping up with a fitness routine during the holidays is not easy, it is advisable to try and remain active. This may mean taking a walk, spending time in the outdoors, taking a beach run or even doing some yoga.

  1. Allow yourself to indulge in simple holiday pleasures

Be sure to spend some time and indulge in simple holiday pleasures that are most amazing for you. Whether that’s sleeping in, enjoying a holiday movie or allowing someone else to babysit in order to enjoy a cup of coffee at your favorite spot – do whatever feels wondrous for you, and make no excuses for it.

Read More: 9 Myths about Postpartum Depression

  1. Communicate

Communicate your needs with your loved ones whenever possible. This not only helps prevent disappointments, it helps manage the symptoms of PPD. Settle for one activity that will make the holiday season meaningful to you. It could be a family picnic at a natural space in the town, or perhaps getting a couple of gifts. Spending time with one’s parents can also add meaning to the holidays. Communicating these needs is important, and you should not feel resentful for having had to articulate your needs.

  1. Remember that it is OK not to be OK

This last tip is a reminder for moms with PPD that sometimes, the darkness will creep in during the holidays. The holidays can present emotional upheavals for many moms, for a myriad of reasons. From grieving to loss and loneliness, there are many triggers that can make it extremely hard to enjoy the holidays.

With these realities, it is okay not to be okay during the holidays. It is okay to be sad, to mourn the loss and to feel the loneliness. It is okay to sit with these emotions and to acknowledge them for what they are. Ensure that you practice selfcare during the holidays. This helps make the season a little more manageable.

 

 

 

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Mental360 discussion forum on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was observed on the 10th of October this year under the theme, ‘Youth and Mental Health in a changing world’.

“Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.” (source)

This snippet from the WHO organization shares on why mental health awareness is important, particularly in the youth. Statistics show that 50% of all mental illnesses typically start at the age of 14. The fact that many of these illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated among the youth means it is a major issue in many countries across the world.

In Kenya, research shows that depression and anxiety are the leading mental illnesses, especially in the youth. It is against this background that different stakeholders sought to host a discussion forum on mental health and the youth. This is important because it not only allows the youth to build mental fortitude, it also creates awareness and allows them to seek for help.

Read More: STILL A MUM 2018 PREGNANCY AND INFANT HEALTH CONFERENCE

In Kenya, Mental 360 exists to promote mental health by raising awareness, creating support systems for the youth and advocating for the rights of persons experiencing mental health challenges. On 11th October 2018, the team held a forum with the aim of engaging stakeholders to find out how to improve the mental health of the youth in Kenya.

PPDKenya was invited to talk about teen pregnancies and how this predisposes teen and young moms to Postpartum Depression. One of our team members, Lindsey, also share a moving account of her PPD story and what we can do to help moms living with PPD. Here are snippets from that conversation:

Teen pregnancy, also known as adolescence pregnancy, is pregnancy that occurs in females below 20 years. Some of the risk factors associated with teen pregnancies include:

  • Lack of sex education
  • Broken families and especially where kids are exposed to violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Harmful cultural practices that include early marriages and FGM
  • Peer pressure to fit in
  • The glamorization of teen pregnancy and the influence of the media

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Owing to the challenges of teen pregnancy, teen and young moms are predisposed to PPD. PPD typically affects at least 20% of new moms, but the rates are higher in teens at approximately 36%. This risk increases significantly in teens who have lived with mental illnesses. What’s more, for teens with mental illnesses, pregnancy and parenting only aggravates the condition.

How can we help teen moms?

  • By recognizing that teen pregnancy does not mean that one cannot be successful in life.
  • By reducing the stigma against teen moms.
  • By helping them get the medical help they need.
  • By supporting them to go back to school through the ‘return-to-school’ policy
  • By listening and empathising with them, and providing a safe space for them to share.
  • By addressing the socioeconomic risk factors at the heart of teen pregnancies – poverty, harmful cultural practices, access to sex education and sexual violence. A holistic approach is required by different stakeholders – the Ministry of Health, leaders of religious institutions, schools, Youth-led organizations such as Mental 360 and the civil society among others.

Below are some of the images from the event.

 

UPDATE: We recently had this conversation on our bimonthly tweetchats. Catch up with that thread here

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Moms share 5 things they wish they knew about Postpartum Depression

 

Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses; with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 moms will get PPD. Yet, as common as it is, many affected moms typically admit that they wish they knew more about PPD before they had it. They admit it would help them accept the condition and seek help faster. We asked some of the moms who have reached out to PPDKenya (and gotten help) what they wish they knew about PPD before child birth. Here are the responses:

  1. I wish I knew PPD steals even little joys

Lyn, a mom of two girls, shared how her PPD stole even the smallest of triumphs. She could not find joy in her motherhood experience, and this impacted her ability to bond with her second daughter. One of the ways in which Postpartum Depression manifests is through a mom’s inability to bond with her child. This does not mean that a mom hates her child; on the contrary, she may be overprotective of her bundle of joy, but just can’t find it within herself to bond and play with her baby.

  1. I wish I knew PPD is a treatable mental illness

Lucy, a mom to one said, “I wish I knew Postpartum Depression is a mental health condition that can be treated through therapy. “ One of the myths about PPD is that it is a permanent condition for which there is no help. PPD is a temporary condition for which treatment is available. Moms do get help, and go on to make a recovery. Part of the reason we continue to do awareness campaigns on Twitter (check out our previous #PPDKenya tweetchats here) is because when moms are aware, then they can know what the symptoms of PPD are and where to get help.

Read More: Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew Depression after birth is NOT normal.

“Depression after birth is NOT normal, and I wish I knew this. Additionally, PPD affects both moms and dads,” Kristy shared with us. Many moms who reach out for help with PPD will often admit that a well-meaning person told them what they felt was ‘normal’ and it would pass. The truth of the matter is that PPD is anything but normal. When a mom starts to exhibit symptoms of PPD, and they go on for more than two weeks, then there is cause for concern. More importantly, moms are reminded that, just because you exhibit just a couple of symtoms of PPD, it does not invalidate your concerns.

  1. I wish I knew that it was possible to get Pregnancy depression and PPD thereafter

Jacinta* shared how, struggling with depression during pregnancy and not knowing what it was only compounded her symptoms after childbirth. Her pregnancy depression symptoms included weepiness (over just about everything), inability to comprehend a future with baby, so much so that she had intrusive thought even before baby was born. Left unchecked, Jacinta’s Pregnancy Depression morphed to PPD, and she shared how, knowing what she does now after support group sessions, she wishes she had gotten help earlier.

Read More: Treatment Options for Postpartum Depression

  1. I wish I knew how incredibly lonely PPD is.

Victoria* shared and said, “I am afraid of telling anyone close what’s happening anymore, because the last time I tried I was told that I have become ungrateful, so I continue to struggle with my PPD in silence. I feel so alone.”

The stigma associated with maternal mental illness means that moms feel ashamed for seeking help, and end up keeping it to themselves. The truth is that there is no shame in reaching out for help, and if you have PPD, please know you are not alone!

At PPDKenya, we understand what you are going through. We are here to walk the journey with you. We will help you get the help you need. Get in touch using our Contact Page.

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