Millions of women who just had a baby will ultimately suffer from postpartum depression. It's out of their control and it's not something they have complete power over, but there are ways to help, cope, and fight the internal struggle that too many women suffer through on their own. You may not see it in her face, or know it in her actions, but women who have postpartum depression are battling a huge internal mental monster and they deserve every ounce of support they can get.
The good news is that people are finally taking postpartum depression seriously. Maybe it took years for it to happen when enough women spoke up. Maybe it took a few high profile celebrities to point out how real it is. And maybe things just got so bad for so many people that finally society and science are putting their foot down and working overdrive to help women with this issue.
One of the ways America is stepping up the game for helping women with postpartum depression is to screen women prior to having their baby. It will help determine who may/may not be most likely to get postpartum depression in the days/months after giving birth.
Advocacy from groups like Postpartum Support International coupled with recently introduced screening recommendations from the American Pediatric Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are putting the issue on the table. One of their big pushes is for more routine screening of new mothers. The ACOG now recommends clinicians screen new mothers at least once for anxiety and depression like symptoms, and have a standardized tool to do so. Such efforts matter; an incredible 80% of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders cases go untreated. This not only means the mother suffers, but the infant does too.
An increase the number of available therapies would be a goldmine for women and job opportunities for therapists. I'm not talking about prescribing medicine, but rather unlocking that inner fire, supporting core beliefs, and finding mental strategies to cope. Some women excel in therapy and a deserve a neutral source to vent their outings to.
Annabel Acton, from Forbes, later mentioned increased maternity leave. While some people suggest that if women have babies, then they should pay for them. That's true. Pay for your own kids. But those same people also say the job should not pay for you to be on paid maternity leave. Well, what sometimes happens is that women don't make it back to work. Some women quit, some commit suicide, and it alternatively costs the company more in the hiring and training process. If a company has a quality employee, then they need to do whatever it takes to keep them. Nothing will beat quality work and productivity. Any time an employee has a boss who supports them, then that employee will always go the extra mile for the company. I'm not saying the job should pay for this all out of pocket, but if employees put away 1% of their salary towards maternity and paternity leave, then over time it will easily be paid for.
I mention paternity leave because father's should stay home with their child for the second three months. Let women stay home from months 1-3, then fathers stay home from months 4-6. There's no reason a child under 6 months old should spend a day in a daycare. That's parental bonding time and it's important. America doesn't value family like some other country's do. We're better at almost everything in the world, though. I went on unpaid paternity leave and it caused me to run up some credit card bills. If I was able to put money away, out of my salary, then it could've been paid for in advance. Some people say "what if you don't have kids?" The answer to that is this - how about when you retire, the company gives your 1% back? Others say "why don't you just save your money yourself" and we all know it's a lot easier to have money come out of our check instead of saving ourselves. That's all another discussion for another day. The point is this - our country needs paternity and maternity leave to support the working families of America. This is most important for women who suffer from postpartum depression. Knowing they have their job waiting for them is something to look forward to.
I can't speak from a woman's point of view, but I know what my wife went through. She needed help and I couldn't see it. I thought her therapist was a quack, but that's because I was probably the quack. Her therapist was wonderful for HER, which is all that matters. When you're going to therapy, then you need a therapist who works for you. You need to make that connection, feel comfortable, have a sense of trust, and know that you'll be OK - because you are, you will always be OK. Once you accept that, then you'll be great!
One day she subtly sent me a Facebook message with a link on "How to reset your wife when she's falling apart." It's sat in my inbox for over a year and I haven't deleted it since. I keep it there as a reminder that sometimes I need to be a better person and help her recharge. If she falls apart, then it's partly my responsibility for not being supportive when she needs it the most.
She doesn't take medicine or rely on drugs. She doesn't even go to therapy anymore. But she relies on me. Married women rely on their husbands and we need to realize that and give them some extra support when they're feeling down.
If you know any mother's with postpartum depression, then talk to them about it. Let them explain it.
You'll be shocked at what they say, but you'll be very glad you listened.