5 Postpartum Depression Resources

It's not uncommon for women to experience the so-called "baby blues" following the birth of a child. In up to one in seven women, however, the conclusion of a pregnancy results in a serious mood disorder called postpartum depression. While most of these women require the guidance of a qualified mental health professional, there are also some online resources that can offer valuable supplemental support.

 

What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression?

Many women experience crying spells, mood swings, anxiety and sleeping difficulties as they adjust to becoming new moms. In some cases, these symptoms become increasingly severe and ultimately develop into a long-lasting mental health problem.

There's no one cause for postpartum depression; however, experts believe it has something to do with dramatic hormonal changes and environmental catalysts, such as sleep deprivation. While postpartum "baby blues" tend to be characterized by general anxiety, mood swings, sadness, crying, irritability, appetite problems and sleeping difficulties, postpartum depression tends to bring more serious symptoms, including: 

  • Severe unexplained mood swings

  • Depression and excessive crying

  • Trouble bonding with newborn

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Overeating or loss of appetite

  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping

  • Loss of energy or overwhelming fatigue

  • Reduced interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Intense or sudden anger

  • Low self-worth and fear of being a bad mother

  • Feelings of inadequacy, guilt or shame

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Panic attacks and severe anxiety

  • Thoughts of harming your baby or yourself

  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death in general

When left untreated, postpartum depression can last for months. What's worse, in some cases it can devolve into postpartum psychosis, which can lead to hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and life-threatening thoughts or behaviors. 

Finding Help With Postpartum Depression Online

Postpartum depression is best treated by a trained medical professional who can provide antidepressant medications and cognitive support. Many times, however, new moms also benefit from online resources that provide comfort and support from experts and other women who are experiencing similar feelings.

If you or someone you love is suffering from postpartum depression, the following support channels can help: 

  1. Postpartum Support International (PSI): Created to disseminate information, resources, education and support to postpartum moms and their families, PSI provides self-administered screening tools, online support group meetings, and a free supportive text messaging program for pregnant women and new moms.

  1. Postpartum Health Alliance (PHA): A non-profit organization that provides support and treatment referrals to women and their families, PHA offers support and referrals for treatment through its 24-hour "warmline," staffed by trained volunteers.

  1. American Psychological Association (APA): The leading professional and scientific organization representing psychology in the United States the APA provides detailed information, advice and crisis lines for women who feel scared or overwhelmed by symptoms of postpartum depression.

  1. Postpartum Progress, Inc. (PPI): A national non-profit organization, PPI offers a wealth of insight into the causes, signs and available treatments for postpartum depression. It also links visitors to community events and online support groups where people can connect for comfort and advice.

  1. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The largest research organization in the world specializing in mental illness, the NIMH makes it easy for visitors to find health care providers and also provides direct lines for questions and immediate support. 

Reaching Out For Help

While postpartum depression is a mental illness, it's nothing to be ashamed of. To make sure you avoid long-term issues, contact a qualified health professional, so you can get on the path toward recovery. Remember, while online support can be valuable, it's no substitute for professional guidance from a licensed mental health expert.