Youngest just turned 2, so I know this isn't exactly PPD, but thought I might get some answers here trying to figure out if what I have is depression.
I have felt like this off and on, honestly, looking back (I found an old post here from when DS was 3) probably since DS was about 1 yr old- he's now 7). But I always just chalked it up to being an isolated SAHM without any help (no family around) besides DH, who has been working 60 hrs / wk lately. DH works on weekends which is tough, especially for DS who has to write "weekend news" for school...our weekends are pretty uneventful. I don't have a car, and not a whole lot to do. We have a couple of neighbor friends but I don't want to interrupt their family time on weekends.
Anyway, for the past few months I've noticed it more so- there are days when I just can't handle it-I mean not being able to cope with even preparing breakfast, I'll break down crying trying to make pancakes or wrestling with DD to change her diaper - I just can't handle her "giving me a hard time" (ie, being a normal toddler). Seems like from the moment we wake up, DD is screaming and throwing fits (fueled by DS's teasing and laughter and thinking it's hysterical when she screams, which doesn't help of course). Getting ready to go out (which is probably what we need to do badly) is overwhelming, I'm just a mess crying about the littlest thing that doesn't go my way (yeah, and I wonder why my toddler acts that way!), yelling constantly at the kids for misbehaving/ not listening. Forget about going to do fun things, we're just staying home today. The TV has been a babysitter these past couple of days. DS was not kidding when he said , wow, I got like 4 hours of screen time today! (his limit is usually 1 hr). When we stay home, I try my hardest to sit down and play with them, but honestly, I'm not able to. I'm just choking up in tears, I just need to disconnect from the world and clean like crazy (lately this helps me to calm down) or go online to read parenting forums or just window shop. A handful of times I've literally broken down in front of the kids. DS is very sensitive and hugs me and tries to console me...DD just looks confused saying "mommy crying? mommy be happy"..I feel awful they have to see me like this, especially because I can't explain why- I just say "mommy's tired and cranky"- which I am. I'm sure sleep deprivation doesn't help- I'm studying part time, taking 2 online prereq classes to apply to grad school for next fall. and the only time I have to study is at night- which is after 10pm since DD doesn't fall asleep until then on the days she naps. Once I go to bed, I often toss and turn, lately with nightmares for an hour or so, often not falling asleep until 2am. So I often only get 4-5 hours of sleep at night. On weekdays, when DS is in school, I try to nap with DD, which helps a little.
I realize I don't get enough "me time"- definitely a big problem, but what I feel some days is beyond simply exhaustion or running on empty- it's just not having a desire to do anything. It's a feeling of just giving up on everything- eg. saying" Screw going back to school" (even thought it's something I want to do to be able to start a new career and provide for our family), "screw the job interview next week" (even though it could be a great opportunity, get me out of the house, but no I don't feel emotionally stable enough to have to go to work everyday), "I'll just stay home miserable everyday and just provide my kids with the basic food, care and love"....but other days I'll feel perfectly fine and sometimes overjoyed about everything. I guess my question is, could it still be depression even though it's not a constant state of mind? It's like an emotional rollercoaster, with very steep ups and downs.
I seem to go through phases, a hard week here and there...now I'm wondering if it's cyclical/hormonal, not sure if it happens to coincide with PMS. I didn't feel it while I was pregnant with DD, and before and after my cycles have always been irregular which makes it harder to pinpoint.
It's hard to talk to DH about it- he perceives it as me constantly venting about being a SAHM when he works hard each day to provide for us. Before going back to school I was actually working from home, too, and he was very supportive and helpful in making sure he took care of the kids whenever I had to get work done. But once I started studying too, it was way too much for me, so we decided I would just concentrate on studying at night and being a SAHM during the day- therefore he picked up more hours at work, making it harder again for me. But I can't make him feel guilty for doing so...so it's an ongoing argument when I turn this in to the classic "SAHM vent about I work hard all day too with the kids, why do you get to come home and sit back on the sofa after working a 12 hr day"- which is unfair on my part too, I realize, but I feel like he just doesn't realize it's more than that.
I feel awful yelling at my kids so much, losing my patience- it goes against everything I want to be as a parent- I just want that connected feeling back - enjoying every moment- not letting the little tantrums become an uncontrollable tantrum of my own. I feel so much anger sometimes that I slam my fist down and hurt myself. I'm able to just walk away when I feel like I can't control my emotions when I'm holding my DD or feel like I might get physical with DS. I do call the parental stressline often, but got tired of their "canned responses"- I need a therapist who can not only listen to me but give me some insight on how to control my emotions. I need the help but I'm not sure if I'm just in denial sometimes- for example, tomorrow I might wake up fine and forget about looking to get help until I have another "bad day". So can you still have good days when you are clinically depressed?
Wow, although my circumstances are somewhat different, from an emotional standpoint, I could have written your post. My DS (firstborn) is 4 years old and I have been feeling the symptoms of pospartum depression and postpartum anxiety since shortly after his birth but chalked it up to being a SAHM far away from my family (we moved from NY to AZ when I was 6 months pregnant-bad decision, I know!) and not having many friends, outlets for support and lack of financial security as my husband is the only one working a federal job that doesn't pay very much. We moved back to NY after having my second son in June 2010 and the first few months postpartum were pretty normal and then BAM! the symptoms returned and are now worse than ever.
To answer your questions, b ased on what I have learned through therapy and reading about PPD and PPA, yes, your symptoms can very well be due to either condition (or both, like mine!) since you noted the symptoms began in the year or two after the birth of your first son and according to the criteria used in the U.S. to define perinatal mood disorders, any symptoms occruing within the first 12 months postpartum can be attributed to a perinatal mood disorder. I believe in Europe they use a 24 month time frame so either way, you fall right into that window. The problem is that untreated, the symptoms usually do not just disappear, especially when the cirumstances creating them are still in place. Perinatal mood disorders do not have just one root cause, they are multifactorial, brought about by a combination of life risk factors including genetic predisposition to either depression or anxiety (or both), a past history of personal depression or anxiety, poverty or financial strain, having moved, maternal isolation or lack of support, relationship problems and the list goes on and on. From what I read on your post, it appears you do have some of these risk factors and that you should really begin to explore your options for finding a good therapist, preferably one experienced in treating PPD. You can check out the website, Postpartum International and also read through the site Postpartum Progress to hear other's stories and find practitioners treating perinatal mood conditions in your area. Typically the treatment plan for perinatal mood disorders includes a 3-tier approach that includes individual psychotherapy, medication (if deemed necssary based on your case) and support groups. The support group component is one I am looking forward to embarking on this coming week for the first time an d I think I really need it--to be in a space where others understand the isolating nature of this condition and how it wreaks havoc on every aspect of your life--and most disturbingly, on the lives of our children! Please look into support groups in your area, you deserve and need the support of other women who understand.
You may be adverse to th eidea of medication, I am very much so, I have tried medications in the past 4 years since having my two kids and even prior to their births as I had a pre-existing anxiety condition before having children. I absolutely hate the idea of being on medicine and hate the side effects but I have tried the natural route, acupuncture, herbs, teas, therapy alone, willing mhy way out of this cloud, but nothing has worked and I am again revisiting the idea of going on medication, albeit temporarily until I can get past "the hump" and begint he process of truly healing. The longer this condition goes untreated, the harder it is to treat so I do encourage you to start therapy and devise a treatment plan. With help, you will get better, at least that's what I hear! Whatever the case, you are definitely not alone and this condition affects 10-20% of new mothers. I wish you all the best in your journey....:-)
yes, you absolutely can be clinically depressed and feel good some days. usually, if you fill out a questionar, the questions will apply to any symptoms that have been troubling you within the past two weeks, regardless of the good days you may have in between.
I'm just going to jump right in and give you my opinion: make an appointment with a psychiatrist and do some research about meds. here's why...
one, it sounds like you have a lot on your plate and can't afford to lose time waiting to see if the depression lifts--more likely it will spiral worse and interfere too much with the very important tasks you have on your plate right now.
two, it takes about six to eight weeks to get an appointment with a ppd psychiatrist, if you want to explore alternatives in the meantime you'll still have the appointment if things don't work out. (what may happen is that you'll find some things you try will improve your symptoms and at least enough that you can feel yourself with just a low dose of meds)
three, if you see a therapist he or she will recommend meds anyway--to stabilize you so that you can delve into things without aggrivating your symptoms.
four, you're no longer breastfeeding, so you don't have to worry about transfer to the baby.
five, you can't get better without sleep. most meds will help with that.
from my own experience, socializing, getting some sunlight, and exercise are all very important components of recovery. other things i'm doing are seeing an EMDR therapist and taking thyroids meds(a lot of women wind up having thyroid issues as an underlying cause of depression). Still, nothing took away that icky anxious-for-nothing feeling the way Celexa did. (i also tried Zoloft which made me completely exhausted. the psychiatrist i see now says he usually prescribes celexa because it has few side effects)
'k, hope i don't sound like a representative for Merk. i just wanted to share my experiences.
I happened to have my annual physical yesterday. As soon as my dr. came in and asked if I had any specific concerns, I broke down and cried while I told her how I was feeling. She listened carefully and said it truly sounded like depression. I asked about running tests for things like thyroid, but she didn't feel it was necessary, because I wasn't showing any physical symptoms, just some upset stomach churning every morning- which she said was IBS and due to the anxiety/depression. She explained how antidepressants work, and was going to put me on celexa, but when I told her I was still bfing, she put on me zoloft instead- 25 mg for 1 week to see how my body responds to it, then 50mg, with a followup in 6 wks. She said talk therapy in conjunction with meds will help inmensely, and encouraged me to focus on lightening my load and doing something therapeutic for myself everyday. She said I need to find a sitter asap and go out with DH and just have fun. Due to all the social anxiety I'm feeling, she said he's my safe person now, and will provide the most support, which is true- I broke down the other day and DH was very understanding and just there for me all the way, I feel bad saying that he didn't truly understand before- I think he just didn't realize how bad it was getting for me.
I feel relief that I finally reached out for help...However, I started doubting whether I need the meds...what made me have doubts was when I called around to find a therapist. I spoke to one therapist who just totally made me question myself- btw, she was very judgemental too- I almost felt like hanging up on her. She was shocked that I had allowed my primary care diagnose me and prescribe an SSRI - she said only a psychiatrist is qualified to do this. And bashed me for jumping to take meds- she asked if I had tried anything else first- which no, I hadn't. She said Zoloft is horrible- very addictive, hard to wean off of. After briefly telling her how I had ben feeling, she said it just sounded situational and not biological depression, that most likely could be resolved with therapy alone, however only a psychiatrist could determine that.
I'm not one to quickly medicate for any little symptom- I do often try natural remedies first, and I did read about fish oil, etc for depression, however what resonated to me the most were my dr's words (and I trust her) that it's probably just mild depression but if I don't treat it now, it may sprial into something much worse. I think the fact that I expressed so much fear that I could hurt my child accidentally- not that I had had thoughts of actually doing so, but more just feeling like my emotions were completely out of control at times and the anger I felt over something like a tantrum. Admitting this was hard, but I guess thats what shows that something is very wrong with the way I'm feeling.
Anyway, I finally found a therapist (she's a LMHC, not a psychaitrist, thoguh) who I feel will be a good match. She listned non-judgementally, and when I asked her about the zoloft....she said her preference is usually to try talk therapy first and if that doesn't improve then think about going the medication route- she said ultimately it was up to me, and to discuss it with my dr if I was having second thoughts. But as I told her more about how I was feeling, as soon as I mentioned getting angry to the point of not being able to control myself, she said it would be wise to stick with the meds until my mood stablizes, and this will make it easier for the talk therapy to work better without feeling on the edge. I guess that makes sense.
Howver I'm still feeling very confused, maybe I'm in denial, but at times throughout the day I feel perfectly fine- I'm not unable to get out of bed and face the day, nor am I sobbing away all day- which makes me wonder if it's truly depression or just feeling burntout, like the 1st therapist I talked to said. My DH thinks I seemed fine today, but yes I was fine once he came home, but when he's not home is when I'm not ok. Maybe I just need talk therapy and to take some kind of anger management class, and then just find a sitter/ get more help to not feel so overwhelmed....am I jumping to take meds too quick??? Should I see an actual psychiatrist? Is zoloft that bad?
I was just reading through these boards looking stuff up for my own depression and wanted to reply to you because I have many of the same issues as you.
I actually just did a stay in a mental hospital because I couldn't keep it together anymore.
You are working an insane amount with little support and to me it sounds like you are on the Bipolar spectrum.
Consider a short stay at a nice mental health clinic to get you away from your stressors and properly diagnosed and treated. I am so glad I did.
really surprised your dr didn't do a thyroid check. Physical symptoms? what is she talking about? I had low thyroid and, like you, I was angry a lot, irritable, had a hard time sleeping, and had that horrible queezy feeling in my stomach, felt wiped out all the time and was really sensitive to noise but I didn't have any physical symptoms other than weight LOSS.
But as I told her more about how I was feeling, as soon as I mentioned getting angry to the point of not being able to control myself, she said it would be wise to stick with the meds until my mood stablizes, and this will make it easier for the talk therapy to work better without feeling on the edge. I guess that makes sense.
Pay careful attention to this mama!! When you get to a point of anger and desperation that is so severe as to be losing control, then that's when you want to start taking the meds. And there's NOTHING wrong with being honest about where YOU are at. Honesty takes courage, so good for you for recognizing a real need! Other mamas might be able to start off with nutrition or counseling, and then work their way up. But it sounds like your depression has been left untreated for a long time. Meds can help you stabilize yourself enough to get into a place where you won't need them anymore, and that might come more quickly than you think.
Please, pat yourself on the back for seeking the help that YOU need. Treatment for depression is NOT a one size fits all kind of thing, and I think so often women get a "you should have done XYZ..." rather than the support they need for their decisions. I think it's awesome that you're seeking what you need right now!
Wife to DH , mom to DS (4/09), and DD (8/11), and crafty and hardworking in my own right! In my parenting journey I've , , , , and. To each family their own!!
"There are words for people like me, but I don't think there are very many."
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