Lots of new mothers feel unprepared and anxious when it's time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. However, few are prepared for postpartum depression (PPD).
PPD is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth, usually immediately after childbirth when the mother's hormone levels and uterus size returns to a non-pregnant state.
Seventy to 80 percent of new moms experience “baby blues” including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. While approximately 10 percent suffer with postpartum which may interfere with a mother's ability to take care of and bond with her baby. In rare cases, some new mothers have harmed themselves and/or their babies. (upmc.com)
“I was drowning in tears almost daily,” said one mother after giving birth to her first child. “The stress and my depression affected my entire household.
“Almost all of my pregnancy ailments disappeared the minute he (Jack) was born and were replaced by all these other physical issues. In any other case, if I had been in this much pain, I would have been nursing myself back to health on the couch. But instead, my own needs were coming second to this itty bitty infant, said Carly Riordan.
Amanda M. from Nevada said “The severe sleep deprivation literally made me hallucinate one night. I wish I had known that it’s okay to ask for help, how you forget to take care of yourself (forgetting to shower, eat, etc.), how everyone is so concerned about the baby that people forget that your body is recovering from a huge traumatic event.”
Every mother’s postpartum experience is different. It isn't a character flaw or a weakness.
According to mayoclinic.com, PPD can be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and often develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier ― during pregnancy ― or later — up to a year after birth.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
Written by Candace Schoner, Freelance Writer and Producer of Speaking Candidly with Candace
Mental health is a vital component of overall well-being and can impact our relationships, our work and even our physical health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. will experience a mental illness in a given year, and 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. lives with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic pressures on workers have only increased the prevalence of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. And just as with physical health conditions, workers struggling with mental health conditions may need to take time away from work to seek treatment or recover.
Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible workers with job-protected leave to take time away from work to care for themselves or their family members because of serious mental health conditions. Employees on FMLA leave can also keep their employer-provided health coverage, ensuring they can maintain access to the mental health care they need.
A great example of the value of FMLA comes from Trish Gallagher, an academic adviser for college freshmen in West Virginia. Trish’s husband, Tom, was diagnosed with schizophrenia several years before he passed away in 2017. Tom was unable to drive, so Trish needed FMLA leave to take him to his appointments with doctors and counselors. In addition, he was prescribed medications to treat his mental health condition. According to Trish, FMLA provided the protections she needed to care for her husband while keeping her job and health insurance.
“The prescription coverage I got through health insurance was crucial because it covered most medication costs. Without those benefits, it would have been impossible to pay for the prescriptions Tom needed.” She believes more workers need to know about FMLA rights concerning mental health care. “I was one of the lucky ones,” Trish said. “I knew about FMLA, so I wasn’t afraid to ask for the leave I needed to take care of my husband’s health.”
To increase awareness of FMLA rights as they relate to mental health, the Wage and Hour Division has created new resources for workers, employers and advocacy organizations. Our new webpage has a link to a new fact sheet, “Mental Health and the FMLA,” as well as answers to frequently asked questions.
The FMLA’s essential worker protections are a necessary component to creating mental-health-friendly workplaces. But they’re just one part of the solution. There’s more that can be done, and we all have a role to play:
We all have a role to play in promoting mental-health friendly workplaces. The Wage and Hour Division will do its part to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by supporting workers’ mental health through FMLA outreach and enforcement.
We hope workers, employers and advocacy organizations join our efforts during Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond. We invite you to share our new resources as well as those from the Campaign for Disability Employment.
Now more than ever, we all benefit from flexible, supportive workplace practices that promote good mental health.
Written by Jessica Looman is the acting administrator for the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Follow the division on Twitter at @WHD_DOL.
Written by Robin L. Flanigan, Senior writer, bphope newsletters
It can be hard to admit that we need help. And we’re often reluctant to ask for it because we fear uncertainty and the possibility of being judged for our vulnerability. Researcher Brené Brown, Ph.D., says we tend to feel better about ourselves when we help someone else but think less of ourselves when we ask for help.
“You cannot judge yourself for needing help, but not judge others for needing your help,” she says. But you’d be wise to measure courage by how vulnerable you are, she adds. So instead of feeling reticent about reaching out, think about how doing so is a sign of strength.
Help for people dealing with mood symptoms will be different for everyone and can run the gamut from physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual.
“Asking for help doesn’t devalue you in any way,” says licensed professional counselor Laurie Leinwand. “It can enable you to advance, connect you meaningfully with others, bolster your productivity and ability to do things with greater ease, and better prepare you for your next challenge.”
Interestingly, a Stanford Graduate School of Business study found that we dramatically underestimate how likely others are to help us.
“People are more willing to help than you think, and that can be important to know when you’re trying to get the resources you need,” says Frank Flynn, associate professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB.
The welcome news is that there’s no one right way to ask for help. If you feel most comfortable talking to a close friend or family member, do that. If you’d feel more at ease talking with a professional, or a stranger on a helpline, go that route.
The only thing that matters is that you let someone know you need assistance.
Of course, being aware you may need that assistance—and preparing for what to do when that time arrives—is also key.
So, for starters, try not to wait until you’re in a crisis to make your needs known. Be proactive and plan ahead when things are good. That plan will be useful when symptoms arise but before they escalate, and even when others know you need help, but you don’t.
“Accepting bipolar as a genuine, treatable condition is key to recovery,” says bp Magazine columnist Stephen Propst. “It’s also essential to recognize those times that call for a helping hand. Never hesitate to acknowledge when you can’t go it alone; that’s when it’s time to say, ‘Help!’