Postpartum depression is the causes hundreds of thousands of women to suffer in silence every year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 800,000 women will experience some form of postpartum depression, but only 15% will get the help they need.
A Tampa mother agreed to share her battle with PPD in hopes of encouraging other moms to get help and realize what they think might be the new “normal” is not.
“It’s like a miracle, a miracle,” Andressa Maskery says of giving birth to her 9-month-old daughter.
You can tell Maskery is in love and has a strong bond with her second daughter, Claire. She’s a woman who balances working full-time, being a wife and raising two girls. On the outside, she seems to have it all, but on the inside she is just getting back to feeling like herself.
Four months ago her doctor diagnosed her with postpartum depression.
“It’s not long term and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I mean suffering is something to be ashamed of,” says Maskery.
“It’s a snowball and when you're in it, you feel like there's no way out and it's not something that you control. It took me a few months to realize that I need to talk to somebody,” she explained.
Maskery says her symptoms were similar and different from what you see or hear associated with postpartum depression. It started about five weeks after she brought Claire home from the hospital.
“It was really hard to control my emotions and everything felt more than it should. I felt alone. I felt like I wasn’t getting help. It felt extremely overwhelming not knowing what’s going on and just having to deal with your emotions. I started dreading going home after work.”
She knew she wasn’t OK, but she never felt a disconnect with her new baby. Instead, she says that was beginning to happen with her older daughter. She knew she had to get help.
“It wasn't just like one thing. It was just accumulating and I figured I couldn't live my life like that. I had to go home and be happy with it. It's been too long, it had been too long and I had to do something about it,” she said.
Her doctor saw what she couldn’t.
“I actually got there crying. I got there and he opened my mouth and I started bawling my eyes out and I asked my doctor to please tell me something, please help me out.”
Andressa says it’s been four months and she feels better. She started some medication, but has found counseling and talking the best medicine. She’s part of a support group through perinatal services at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.
“Your life shouldn't be that hard to live. Your life shouldn't be miserable. A lot of women start feeling this way and they’re just like, ‘I guess I wasn’t supposed to be a mom. This is just my new normal. This is what life is,’ and it’s being able to talk about it because it’s not what your life has to look like,” says Beth Keuhling, a licensed mental health counselor at St. Joe’s.
She says postpartum depression is extremely common and underdiagnosed. Keuhling wants moms out there to know that it affects every woman in a different way.
“It looks different for everyone but the commonality is everyone's struggling in some area. It’s being able to say I'm struggling with this and people would be amazed at how many other women are going through it,” she said.
Maskery says it does help to know that she’s not alone and what they’re all feeling has a name.
“I don’t get upset anymore to talk about it I am relieved and I want people to know that this exists and it's out there and people should get help,” says Keuhling.
Postpartum usually goes away within a year. There are some risk factors such as traumatic birth, young maternal age, history of mental health and history of PPD.
Remember it is different for everyone and if you don’t feel like yourself it’s important to reach out for help:
-- St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital’s Perinatal Depression Program: 813-872-3925 or email PerinatalSupportServices@BayCare.org.
-- You can also reach out to Postpartum Support International at http://www.postpartum.net/