Anyone who has been pregnant, and probably some of you who have not, has heard of postpartum depression (PPD). Most baby books I read or websites I visited had some mention of it. We left the hospital with a mandatory booklet on the subject and the nurse who did our home follow up gave me a short test to make sure I didn’t have it.
When babygirl was a few weeks old I started to have occasional fears – I’d look at her and feel helpless to keep her safe. Sometimes I’d lay awake at night and think about things that could go wrong, how I may fail as a mother and thoughts of bad things happening to her. Even though I had no feelings of depression I immediately thought of PPD and googled it to do the self-administered test. My score was only 2/30 so obviously this was not what was wrong. I mentioned my feelings in passing to a few friends and got the typical response – that it was new-Mom jitters and most of it was because of sleep deprivation. During this time my Gran and another family friend passed away which caused me some obvious grief so I figured this didn’t help things and it was just a mix of emotions I was having. I pushed through.
Over the next few months the thoughts happened less and less and now I do have the occasional fleeting thought or feeling but otherwise am fine. I assumed everyone was right and my new-Mom jitters were slowly fading. Then one night I picked up a magazine and read an article about Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) and whoa – THIS sounded familiar! The thoughts and feelings that were described in the story were harsh and a bit scary but I realized I must have had a mild case of this! I had never heard of PPA, which differed from PPD quite significantly.
I brought these findings up to a few other friends who have infants and found out over half of them also had these same feelings! Only one of them actually knew that it was PPA and the others were amazed and relieved when I brought it up – as I was when I read the article. I was very lucky that my PPA was mild and faded by itself within a few short months, but other women are suffering with a more severe case which goes on much longer and will need additional help from counselling or medication.
Please mention PPA to anyone you know who is pregnant or has recently had a baby so others won’t feel clueless like I did! It’s time to make people just as aware of PPA as they are of PPD!