COVID-19 and Postpartum Depression - Symptoms, Treatment, and Changes
Postpartum depression has been a common mental health problem among women for years. However, with the introduction of COVID-19 postpartum depression has just gotten worse. Navigating postpartum depression in a COVID-19 world can seem daunting and overwhelming, but you are not alone. In this article, we will talk about postpartum depression symptoms, treatment, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced postpartum mothers.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
After giving birth many women experience feelings of sadness, mood swings, and stress. These feelings, also known as the “baby blues” are normal and typically go away within a few weeks of giving birth. However, for some women, these feelings don’t go away and can actually get worse if not treated—this is called postpartum depression or perinatal depression. There are many symptoms of postpartum depression including feelings of sadness, frequent bouts of crying, a loss of interest in things that used to bring you happiness, or even unhappiness with being a parent.
Other symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling sad/depressed
- Having difficulty bonding with your baby
- Feeling anxious
- Panic attacks
- Abnormal eating or sleeping patterns
- Fear of harming the baby or yourself
- Intrusive thoughts that won’t go away
- Regret for becoming a mother
- Feeling more irritable and angry with others
Postpartum depression presents itself in different ways to different people. No two women’s experiences are exactly alike but don’t worry, you are not alone—approximately one in five women experience postpartum depression. Thankfully, postpartum/perinatal depression is treatable with therapy and a strong support system.
COVID-19 and Postpartum Depression
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced many people’s lives and caused an increase in mental health problems. One large demographic that has suffered from this is women in their postpartum period. According to one study performed by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that 1 in 3 women were experiencing high levels of depression and anxiety in the postpartum period. That is a significant increase from the previous estimate of 1 in 5 women.
Thankfully, for the most part, COVID-19 has not prevented women from being able to seek postpartum depression treatment. Some treatment options may be a little bit different or restricted, but treatment is still available.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
Once a medical professional has diagnosed you with postpartum depression, there are several ways that you can be treated.
Many healthcare professionals treat postpartum depression with medication. Similar to depression, postpartum depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. In order to balance these chemicals again, medicine is taken. This medication is meant to provide you with the chemical your body is having trouble producing. There are several medications that your doctor may recommend. Make sure that they are safe for you--particularly if you are breastfeeding.
Change with COVID-19: Medication is one of the things that has not changed because of the pandemic. You can still be prescribed and pick up medication.
In addition to medication, a medical professional may recommend that you see a therapist. Therapy can be used independently of the medication or in conjunction with it. Therapy is used to allow you an outlet to explore your inner-most thoughts and feelings. It is a safe space where you can express your emotions with no judgment. It is also a good place to monitor if your medication is working or not. Your therapist is meant to help you process your emotions and learn how to combat them and work through them. It can also be particularly helpful if you do not have anyone you feel comfortable confiding in.
Change with COVID-19: Thankfully you are still able to receive therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of therapists are offering virtual appointments. You can still schedule appointments online and visit your therapist from the comfort of your own home.
Staying in touch with your friends and family is incredibly important. They are your support system through hard times. If you are having a rough day reach out to a friend or family member and vent about it. It is ok to be frustrated, overwhelmed, and exhausted but don’t bottle it up. Express your feelings and emotions to someone you know will be understanding and supportive.
Change with COVID-19: Staying connected is challenging during this time. A large part of human interactions and comfort are non-verbal and physical. Unfortunately, you can’t give people hugs or hang out with your friends. Fortunately, technology is an option. Platforms such as Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom make it possible to see and talk to your loved ones on a daily basis. They may not be able to offer you a reassuring touch or take care of your baby for a while, but they can offer their support in other ways.
Take a Walk
Postpartum depression can make it feel impossible to get out of bed some mornings. The very thing that can make you feel better also seems out of reach. It can be very hard and challenging but try taking a walk. It can just be around the neighborhood or down the block, but getting fresh air and getting your blood pumping can do a load of good.
Change with COVID-19: Walking is another thing that is not too affected by COVID-19. You can still enjoy a walk in the neighborhood, just make sure you are maintaining social distance guidelines. And if you are in a more crowded city area, be sure to put on a mask before going out on a walk.
Prescription medication and therapy can be incredibly effective in working to reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. However, they are not the only ways and the only tools you have. Self-care is particularly important if you are struggling with postpartum depression. Your every waking hour can feel like it is consumed with taking care of your child. Make sure you set aside time (preferably once a day) to relax and take care of yourself. This can help you maintain your own independent identity.
Change with COVID-19: Self-care can be a bit tricky. Some women like to go out and spend a day with their friends as an act of self-care, but that is not available currently. Instead, focus on things that you enjoy doing from your home. Maybe you want to bake something, maybe you want to take a long shower/bath, or maybe you just want to enjoy an episode of your favorite show. You can still practice self-care from the privacy of your home--your options are just a little bit more limited.
Postpartum depression is a problem that many women are dealing with--particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, many treatment options are still available and you don’t have to struggle through it. Make sure you are exploring all treatment options while remaining safe and healthy. Self-care is important in making you feel like your old self and maintaining your independent identity. One thing that you can do to practice self-care is investing in a Bellefit postpartum girdle. A postpartum girdle is a garment that can be worn after giving birth that provides compression to your abdominal region. This garment helps your muscles fall back into place and prevents diastasis recti. Not only will this help you feel better, but it can also help you look better. Make sure you try out a postpartum girdle today and invest in your future.