How to Navigate Postpartum Depression During COVID-19
Postpartum Depression is something many women deal with, and since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it has only gotten worse. If you’ve ever experienced postpartum depression or anxiety, you know that it can feel so incredibly heavy, like you’re carrying around a ton of bricks on your back. This can feel really intense in a normal world, but in the world in which we live now, it can feel even more isolating.
Postpartum Depression: A Review
So you just had a baby, congratulations! Welcoming a new baby into your life can be a very exciting time, but also a time of extra stress and anxiety. If you’re a mom dealing with postpartum depression, you’re not alone. It is normal to experience this after pregnancy and it’s important to know the symptoms of postpartum depression so you’re able to get the help you need quicker. One important distinction to make is that postpartum depression is very different from the “baby blues” which according to the Mayo Clinic can manifest as:
- Mood swings
- Sense of feeling overwhelmed
- Frequent crying
- Reduced concentration
- Difficulty eating or eating too much
- Trouble sleeping
The baby blues are very common amongst new mothers, but only typically lasts for a few days to a couple of weeks after giving birth. Postpartum depression is a much more serious form of depression when compared to the baby blues. The Mayo Clinic says that postpartum depression “signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks.” Some of the most common signs of postpartum depression include:
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Reduced interest in things that once interested you
- Severe anxiety and/or panic attacks
Coping with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
It’s no surprise that a lot of things have become harder to deal with as a result of the pandemic, and that includes postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Learning how to navigate raising a newborn is already hard enough and has plenty of emotions to go along with it, but once you throw in a global pandemic, it becomes a lot harder to navigate everything. According to Lindsey Allen, an OBGYN at Banner Health Center, a mom’s “mental health can be significantly affected. She may notice increased or more frequent feelings of isolation, depressed mood, sadness, hopelessness, excessive worry, insomnia, lack of appetite and poor sleep.” Allen goes on to mention the importance of the support network when it comes to raising a baby, which has obviously been compromised due to the pandemic.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a study between May 21 and August 17, 2020, and found that 9% of new mothers felt “a strong sense of grief, loss or disappointment because of the pandemic” and they were also found to be five times more likely to experience other “significant mental health symptoms.” The researchers also found in their study that 36% of pregnant and postpartum women “had significant levels of depression.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding postpartum depression and its symptoms is important in order for a proper diagnosis. Some questions that I’ve seen asked often relating to postpartum depression and anxiety include:
- If I was dealing with depression or anxiety before having a baby, is it the same as postpartum depression?
No! Postpartum depression and anxiety is very different from “normal” depression/anxiety. According to Mental Health America, there isn’t enough research on postpartum depression and anxiety, “but we do know that depression and anxiety after giving birth (or during pregnancy) are likely caused by a combination of factors like low serotonin and hormonal shifts that happen around pregnancy, delivery, and during breastfeeding.”
- How do I know if I’m dealing with postpartum depression, adjusting to life as a new parent, or other stress related to the pandemic?
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to know. Our bodies can’t really differentiate between causes of stress/depression – it just interprets that we’re stressed or feeling low. “It’s especially hard to determine what exactly is wearing on you during the pandemic because general stress and anxiety levels are heightened for many people.”
- How can I handle my postpartum depression when it’s hard to get time away from my family and have some “me time”?
Depending on your situation, it may be harder or easier for you to get help with childcare. Due to COVID-19, you might be hesitant to leave your baby with a childcare provider, which is understandable! If you do have support either through a spouse or family member, tell them that your self-care time is important to you. Ask them for help when you feel as though you need to ramp up on self-care.
Tactics for Dealing with Postpartum Depression
Dealing with postpartum depression isn’t easy, but it is possible to come out on the other side of it. Trust me, I’ve seen it! Depending on your lifestyle, you may find one tactic easier to incorporate into your routine than others, but knowing how to deal with postpartum depression during COVID-10 will make you (and your baby!) much happier down the road! Some of my favorite tactics are:
- Therapy/Mental Health Counseling: As a counselor, I obviously see so much value in speaking to someone else about your struggles. Now that everything’s online because of the pandemic, you don’t even have to leave your house to get the support you need the most. If you’d like, feel free to book a free 15-minute consultation with me!
- Connect: Dealing with postpartum depression during a pandemic is something none of us have had to deal with before, so reach out to your community. Try finding other parents dealing with similar issues to you. Find support through your community!
- Prioritize Self Care: Everyone experiences postpartum depression differently, but it’s always important to show yourself love regardless. If you prioritize taking care of yourself alongside your baby, you’ll start to feel a lot better.
About Soul Song Counseling | Postpartum Depression Counseling in Denver, CO
Becca Hart, LPC is the founder of Soul Song Counseling, a plan for compassion and generous caring to help you become the hero of your own life. Becca specializes in Brainspotting for trauma and counseling for mothers. Soul Song Counseling is located in the Washington Park neighborhood of Denver, CO at 1221 S Clarkson St #202, Denver, CO 80210. Contact us to schedule a free 15-minute new client consultation.