As many moms (and dads) know, the birth of a child is one of the most joyous events in the life of a family. There is so much excitement about this new arrival, we’re not always ready for all of the emotions that come with it. Surrounded by enthusiastic and well-meaning friends and family, new parents can experience an often-overlooked mental health concern, Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMD).

These conditions are more widespread than you might think. Statistically, 1 in 7 women encounter major symptoms of depression and anxiety and 1 in 10 men become depressed in the first year after having a new baby. Parents of every age, income level, and culture can get Postpartum Mood Disorders, and symptoms can appear any time within the first year after childbirth.

Possible warning signs of PPMD may include increased tension or irritability, feelings of panic, difficulty enjoying oneself, feeling sad, feeling as if things are “out of control,” or difficulty bonding with your baby. If you or someone you know is having such difficulties, there is support and effective, well-researched options available. Postpartum Mood Disorders are not uncommon, and no one is to blame.

Parents can be isolated from family and friends; one parent can be working long hours, leaving the other at home with the newborn and without traditional support. Some parents are caring for two or more children under the age of four. Some parents feel obligated to keep the house as clean as it used to be, neglecting to take care of themselves. Other new parents spend much of their time in debilitating worry about their baby, concerned that something may happen to their baby, or they will make a grave error in caring for their newborn. It can be easy to feel as though things are spiraling out of control or that we are “not good enough.” These concerns, often a usual part of becoming a parent, can be magnified during a pandemic.

There are a number of things we can do to address PPMD, from taking care of ourselves to seeking the support of other new parents or reaching out for professional help. Taking care of ourselves allows us to provide the best care for our families. Make sure you get exercise, eat a healthy diet, and stay connected with family and friends.

Having a new baby is an exciting experience, but it can be overwhelming. If you need more support, consider talking to a counselor, learning more about PPMD, or getting support from others. Ask for help when you need it. Support groups for new parents are available online and in person. You can seek professional help from us at The Center for Mental Health by visiting www.centermh.org or call 970-252-3200.


Resources

The Center for Mental Health (se habla español): A community behavioral health center serving individuals and families in Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, and Hinsdale Counties.

Centro comunitario de salud al servicio de las personas y familias en los condados de Gunnison, Delta, Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray y Hinsdale.
www.centermh.org

Western Slope Postpartum Peer Support Group
Meets 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 9:30 to 10:30 AM
Bloomin Babies Birth Center, 2241 N 7th St, Grand Junction, CO 81501
970.549.1711  | Free childcare

Postpartum Support International
Learn more at www.postpartum.net or 1-800-944-4773

Contributed by Rebecca A. Lister, MS, LPC, integrated therapist at The Center for Mental Health