Postpartum Depression

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi there-

    I'm hoping to find a therapist (preferably someone who can prescribe medication) to help with post-partum anxiety and depression. I'm expecting our first baby in a few weeks and have a history of dealing with both issues and want to get a relationship established before the baby arrives. I have Cigna insurance and am open to anyone in the east bay (male or female doesn't matter). Thanks in advance!

    I'd say, on top of being prepared by finding a therapist etc, do what you can to reduce your need for a therapist. Appreciate the magic and healing power of birth! Be well-nourished, get lots of sleep etc. Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, and lots of unscheduled breastfeeding and time together with baby, have been shown to reduce the incidence of post-partum depression. Etc. This can be a new start!

    It's good that you're on top of it beforehand. I waited till after the baby and it was a nightmare dealing with my hmo. They sent me lists of psychiatrists that weren't accepting patients or didn't specialize. If you have a ppo you will probably be better off. I'm seeing and mft named Sarah Liebman in Albany, she's great for talk therapy if you can't find a psychiatrist. My ob gave me a rx and I just saw a psychiatrist for meds only that gave me zoloft and klonopin. Zoloft seems to be the gold standard if you want to breaatfeed.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


How to help someone with post-partum depression

March 2012

A friend of mine recently gave birth to her first child, and I suspect may be grappling with PPD (and she has taken anti-dpressants in the past, before the pregnancy.) IF that's what's going on, I'm wondering about best advice on if/how I can help her? Her birth prep class didn't really address this, and it sounds like her docs haven't either, and her baby came early. I don't want to stick my nose where it doesn't belong, etc. -- and I want to be sensitive to the vulnerable place she's in right now, just dealing with all the new mom stuff - but also to let her know it's ok to get help, if needed, in case she does cross that line of overwhelmed into actually depressed... Anyone who went through this (or had someone close to them) have any suggestions on how to help, or recognize when that line has been crossed? Or resources she can turn to if needed? She knows she can call me anytime (but I'm no specialist), but then sometimes goes off the map for several days at a time. I'm not sure her partner knows much about it, and I really don't want to offend either of them. Thoughts? Anon

You can only do that much as a friend of someone who goes through Post Postpartum...if she has taken antidepressants before than that is an indicator that she has struggled with depression before? I would seek professional help.There are so many ways in which she can be helped from meds to verbal therapy, group therapy because many women go through this and the first step is coming out of that isolation. Good luck! juliane

First of all, thank you for caring about your friend and wanting to help her. I had very severe ppd/anxiety after the birth of my first child. She might have it, she might not but regardless, it's really, really hard those first few months after having a baby and any mother needs other women friends (especially other mothers) around her to help or to just give a nice long hug or to help clean the bathroom, etc. So, please reach out to her and be a little pushy if you have to, a lot of people find it hard to ask for and accept help from others. Certain things to look for that might be PPD are: if she seems unusually depressed/anxious for more than two weeks after the birth, if she has a really hard time sleeping at night and/or napping during the day (even if someone she trusts has the baby), if she cries a lot, feels hopeless and can't get basic things done like get dressed, cook meals, take care of the baby, etc. even many weeks after the baby was born. There are several websites with lists of symptoms if you google PPD. What helped me: having friends there was the most important thing. I had PPD so bad that I couldn't be left alone to take care of my baby. The thing that helped me the most was having someone who could listen and assure me that I was going to be okay and that I would recover, my husband and friends all took shifts. I also had to go on Zoloft briefly, for 5 months, this helped a lot. Having a daily schedule that included going out in nature for a walk every afternoon. I had to know exactly what I was doing every day and have a routine, this helped me to get through each day until I got better. Going to a PPD support group is crucial, I went to the one at Kaiser Oakland that meets on Tuesdays, but there are others. Also, extending the maternity leave, I took more time off work than I was going to originally, this was a huge relief. I hope this helps. anon

I have moderate to severe post-partum depression and anxiety (and still am taking meds and working on getting better 2 years later).

It is difficult to find someone who has experience in this area (including therapists and psychiatrists). I recommend this blog as a good place to start: You can find a list of local therapists to call that can offer specific advice on how to help your friend. Lee Safran in Kensington runs a ''postpartum stress'' support group. That is a good place to start if your friend doesn't believe she has PPD, but is struggling. She can explore issues she's having without automatically labeling her as having PPD and meet other moms who are struggling also.

If your friend has PPD, she may be in denial so she may not be receptive to the suggestion. However she will reach a point where she is overwhelmed and knows she needs/wants help. She will then be ready to accept that she needs help. You don't want her to go past this point, though, and harm herself or her baby.

More you can do: Check in with her regularly. Ask her how she is feeling, how she is sleeping, what she thinks of new motherhood, the new baby etc. If she has trouble sleeping (even if it seems normal), if she loves her baby more or less than she thought she would, is feeling sad, depressed, overwhelmed, angry, etc. she may have PPD. Gently point her to the resources you've found, such as the support group or therapist. You could offer to go with her to the therapist and watch her baby in the waiting room. Listen, even if she is irrational. E.g. perhaps she is worried about a weird smell. Listen to her, and gently tell her that you don' experience the fear the same way (i.e. you wouldn't be worried about the smell). Do not negate her feelings or suggest ways to get rid of them (e.g. tell her to clean the oven to make the smell go away).

Point her to PPD resources now, such as that blog. Have her read about it or read it aloud to her and see if she can relate. Just say, ''I noticed you seemed overwhelmed and I came across this interesting article about new motherhood'' or something like that. You can also ask the moderator for my email if you have more questions. PPD Survivor

Young mother of 4-month-old w/complete mental breakdown

Oct 2011

A member of my extended family has recently had a complete mental breakdown. She is the young mother of two adorable kids and needs free or low cost psych services in the Sacramento area as she has no health insurance. She has been diagnosed as Bi-polar and Schizophrenic after a brief (emergency) stay in the county hospital. But many members of our family wonder if this might be a case of Postpartum Psychosis instead since she does have a 4 month old baby. Any referrals or contacts that might be able to help her and her family would be appreciated. Worried Cousin

Based on the details you provide, I bet your cousin has post-partum psychosis, an extreme form of post-partum depression. This is often misdiagnosed and in general post-partum depression is under diagnosed. Go to the Post Partum Support International website and track down the Sacramento area contacts there, they can be great advocates for appropriate treatment and care. best wishes to you and yours

Postpartum anxiety/depression unsupportive spouse

May 2011

This is really difficult. Two weeks ago I had baby no.2. The first few days were fine, but I gradually slipped into a state of constant anxiety - excessive worry about the newborn, and a sense of very ''real'' fear - of the ''impending danger'' variety. I spend a lot of time worrying about the baby and (serious) illness. I cannot stop wondering if my 3 year-old toddler will bring something home and infect the baby. I am starting to distance myself from him when I have the baby in my arms - I know this is horrible, and I am devastated by it, but the fear always wins. The only way I can get through the day is to think that another 24 hours have gone by without anything bad happening - it is like a countdown to the 6 week mark at which point the baby's immune system will be better developed. I have also become afraid to cook, or prepare certain foods, i.e., meat, due to the possibility of contamination and threat to the baby. As a result of these (irrational) concerns I am having an incredibly hard time taking care of my other child. The whole thing is awful, and it is making me very depressed.

Meanwhile, I am living with an unsupportive spouse. We are not communicating very well, and everything I do is misconstrued as deriving from some (apparently hidden) intent to harm the family, etc. Last week we practically separated, and there are occasional threats of moving out, my moving out, etc. This is very hurtful because I am desperately in need of support, yet I am being treated as if I were some sort of evil monster. The other problem is that I am (obviously) over protective, and therefore uncomfortable watching anyone (including immediate family) handle the baby without a thorough hand washing. So, in addition to all of the above, we have major disagreements about how often is appropriate, etc. I would certainly be better able to try to overcome this problem if I had the right amount of support - but I feel so much anger and resentment constantly directed at me that it has become very difficult. I know that it must be hard to live with somebody who has these problems, and I take responsibility, but at the same time I feel very isolated by the lack of consideration.

I have spoken to a few friends about the situation, but nobody I know has gone through anything even remotely similar. I am really hoping that I hear back from someone who can possibly relate. I know most would advise me to seek professional help, and I am willing (even up for a trial of anti-anxiety meds, although I am not thrilled about the idea since I am nursing). It would be extremely helpful to hear from anyone having gone through postpartum anxiety. - Feeling very alone -

First, please know that you are not alone in this. Postpartum depression is very hard to talk about -- we have new babies, everything is supposed to be hunky dory, etc...and feeling this bad seems very incongruous with the whole rosy, new-mama Awesomeness we are ''supposed'' to feel.

Have you spoken to your OB/GYN about this? What does s/he say? I would start there. The next thing to do is to see a therapist (and couples counselor, if you can do both, or perhaps just a couples counselor, see below) and potentially a psychiatrist. The therapist can help you, long term, to work on whatever issues might have triggered this, while the psychiatrist would be there to manage any medications you might need to take. The OB/GYN can prescribe any drug but my experience has been that they tend not to know as much about the drugs themselves -- which ones work best for which people -- as the psychiatrists do. If you do go this route, I would cross-check whatever your psychiatrist prescribes with your OB, just to make sure that it is not expressed (or minimally expressed, whatever the best case scenario is) in breast milk, etc.

Your husband and the way he is reacting to all of this is another big factor here. In my personal opinion (not being any type of mental health professional, but having gone through something similar), it is important that he is included in some of the work that you are doing so that 1. he is held responsible for his own behavior (it sounds from your description like he has some issues around this whole thing himself and that, conveniently, he is pathologizing you so that he doesn't have to work out what is going on in his own head -- at the very least, this is making him act like a big pain in the you-know-what) and 2. he can gain a feel for what you are going through and perhaps develop some empathy for your situation.

I realize that I included a LOT of professionals above. Listen, this won't get better on its own. You need support; don't be afraid to bring in the big guns. Your life, your health, and your children's health are on the line here. Know that it is important to take care of yourself, first and foremost. anon

I agree that you should consult with your ob/gyn or baby's pediatrician about a resource/action plan for postpartum depression/anxiety. There are medications you might consider taking despite the fact that you are breastfeeding. I experienced severe anxiety and elected to take a low dose of Zoloft while nursing and I have a very healthy baby. I chose to do cognitive behavioral therapy as well. Other options to consider: acupuncture, omega fatty acids, increase protein, read Postpartum Depression for Dummies (an excellent resource), ensure that you are getting sufficient and uninterrupted sleep (5 hours at a stretch is ideal if you can find a way to trust someone to bottle feed the baby once per night). I elected to address the issue with as much ammo as possible and I'm glad I did. It's a hormonal process and it will get better if you take appropriate action. Best of luck. Anon

I have one child, but I could have written many parts of your post. I had severe postpartum anxiety with my son. I couldn't sleep, sometimes for days, and had tremendous anxiety about my son's sleep habits, nursing habits, etc. I'd research stuff online for hours. It got to the point where I was so anxious, I literally would not pick him up for hours, even when he was crying, for fear of doing something wrong. (It's taken me a long time to get over that guilt.) I stopped bathing and eating. My fears literally immobilized me. To top it off, I was in a mother's group with women who were totally out of my socioeconomic range (nannies, housekeepers, boats, etc.) and somewhat judgemental (and to be fair, I wasn't in a friendly state of mind then, either). Thankfully, I made a phone call to a therapist, ended up on meds and in a support group with women who didn't have lots of money. My son is healthy, happy, and a great kid now, and he's 5. Things did get better. One difference we have, though, is that my husband, while not cheery, was supportive of this process. After he saw how the meds (Celexa) helped ease my anxiety almost immediately, he understood what had been happening. Consider getting counseling or joining a postpartum anxiety/depression support group. I can't tell you how affirming and helpful it was to hear from women who also couldn't sleep, who were afraid to drive, felt the pressure to be perfect moms, were struggling financially,and sometimes resented their kids. You are not alone in your anxiety. Find some kindred spirits to walk with you on this journey. Your children need a relaxed and happy mom, and you need you, too. Good luck. Three Birch Trees

Go talk to your OB/GYN! There are safe drugs you can take that will make you feel worlds better. Your behavior is probably scaring your other child and your husband, and it certainly isn't good for you or your baby. You should be savoring and enjoying this time in your life...the baby will be walking and talking in no time. You need to get help so you can feel better and not be pushing your family away with your behavior. It's NOT YOUR FAULT. Postpartum depression is a real medical condition. If you had diabetes, would you sit at home and try to figure it out, or go to your doctor and get insulin?? Take care of yourself. Talk to your doctor and insist on help. Berkeley mom of 3

1. Second baby is SOOOOOOO much more exhausting than #1. Surely you are not getting enough deep sleep, and sleep deprivation will trigger or exacerbate anxiety/depression, and it is cumulative. You must give up nursing at night until you recover. Pump your milk or use formula so that someone else (anyone you can find) can feed baby at night. Which is worse: formula or a crazy mama?

2. Your theories about germs are simply incorrect. As a nurse practitioner and nurse midwife, I am happy to tell you that your baby is exposed to all kinds of germs and that this exposure is not nearly the biggest threat to your baby's well being. You have simply chosen the germ issue as a place to focus your anxiety.

3. You are correct that your anxiety is a problem. The fact that you have identified the problem is good evidence that you are ready to and able to heal. Seek the help of your OB/midwife. You need sleep, support (outside of your husband) and possibly medication. What good reason is there for you and everyone else around you to continue to suffer like this? Sleep, support, medication.

I already posted, but wanted to add this: you described your condition so well in this post, if I were you, I would print it out and give it to your OB/GYN. It's sometimes hard to find the right words when you're sitting in the doctor's office, facing a white coat. You've already described what's going on, perfectly. Just take those words along with you. Berkeley mom of 3

I am so sorry to hear of your experience. Although from what you describe, it sounds like your experience has been a little more intense than mine, I went through (and am still healing from) a similar situation. Everything really ''fell'' apart for me the moment my baby was born and I suffered from severe anxiety, hallucinations and insomnia (due to my fears about baby getting enough to eat/not developing correctly)in addition to a crushing depression unlike anything I have ever experienced. My marriage also got ugly very quickly with threats to leave as hubby did not know how to be supportive and to some extent was suffering from his own ''postpartum'' issues (OCD & overeating).

I did seek help both starting on drugs and seeing a therapist who specializes in postpartum anxiety and although I still have insomnia moany nights my day to day life has turned around completely.

One thing that people said right away when I started seeking treatment for my condition is how important it is for the mother to get help operationally so she can care for herself. I resisted this mightily but I ultimately needed 2 weeks of essential round the clock help and then a month or so of help at dinner time a few nights a week. Between the times I have needed paid help and the therapy which my insurance does not cover, I have made a real dent in my savings account but it has been worth every cent to be able to get healthy enough to enjoy my sweet baby.

There is surprisingly little support in this area for postpartum anxiety/depression. A therapist named Lee Safran runs the one support group I know of, but the timing didnt work for me so I didnt end up doing it.

If you do ever want someone to talk to who understands, feel free to contact me through the moderator. You are not alone!!

I had postpartum anxiety and it was every bit as awful as you're describing. I couldn't sleep--not even for a minute--due to the feeling of panic that something might happen. I knew I was being totally irrational, but knowing that didn't prevent the crazy anxiety--in fact, it probably made it worse. It was the sleep deprivation that finally drove me to the OB and she prescribed a small dose of Zoloft. I had never taken anti-depressants before, but in about ten days it did cut the anxiety down to what I would call normal newborn parenting levels. My daughter was EBF and my physician assured me it was safe. She nursed for just over a year and I didn't notice any ill effects from my medication. You'll probably hear this from everyone, but please go back to your doctor and be open about your anxiety. It's just not worth living this way if you don't have to. Then, once you're more yourself, you can address the problems you're having with your partner. anonymous

Post partum depression/anxiety is very common. Your husband is probably very scared for you, and it's manifesting as anger. Please get help! A therapist who really helped me (psychiatrist) Heather Clague: 204- 4666. She knows post partum and can figure out the exact right meds if that's the direction you want to take. she won't push you but will give u all the info you need about med options and do the essential ''talk therapy'' . Also ask yourOB about local support groups. Don't let your OB prescribe meds for this though--they can't do the follow up that you need. you need a specialist in order 2 figure out what is right 4 you.

Don't be afraid to try meds-- it's far worse for kids to grow up with a depresses/anxious mother. Also if you allow this to go untreated it *greatly* increases the risk of a more severe relapse. Been there

hi, i'm sorry about what you're going through...i also had PPD & anxiety after having my 2nd child (1st one was 5yrs old at the time.) My spouse also was unsupportive, angry and resentful. Although my anxiety was not specific fears like yours, I understand how debilitating it is. One day when my son was 2-3 mo old, i realized i couldn't even look at him without crying and it terrified me. Right then, I decided to begin meds & forgo breastfeeding. My rationale was my kids are better off with a healthy mom who formula feeds rather than a depressed mom who breastfeeds. I am a mental health professional who works with psychotropic meds, & personally, I don't care what the doctors/drug companies say, i don't believe that it is worth the risk to breastfeed while taking these meds (just my opinion!) After a few weeks of meds & therapy, I felt sooo much better. Eventually, I was back to my ''normal'' self. It's crazy, but this actually ''woke me up'' & i faced a lot of issues i had ignored in my marriage. Over time, spouse & I went to couples therapy and things are much better.

If you would like support and want to talk more, please contact me through the moderator. I know for me, PPD was the hardest thing I have ever been through. Please get support-don't try to tough it out alone. BTDT

Your post resonated with me. I have a 13 week old and have many of the same fears that you expressed. At night, I often worry that someone will break into our home and take one of our children. Or, I worry that a fire may break out and I will need to rescue my children then jump through a window! I regularly check window locks and test the fire alarm; I even know which window I will jump through in case a door is obstructed. In the light of day, I recognize these fears are unfounded; Strangely, I can even laugh about them, as I am now as I write them. In the moment, however, they are very real. The mere possibility of one of my children being injured is almost debilitating.

My advise to you is exactly what you stated in your post: please seek out some professional help. I have, and it has reduced these fears considerably. Also, don't assume that your treatment will require prescription medicine. It may, but it may not. Thinking that treating your anxiety will require you to stop nursing will only prevent you from getting the help you need.

As for your partner, my guess is that he does not understand how ''real'' these feelings are. If he did, he would feel sympathy, not anger towards you. Who would ''choose'' to be this anxious?

Until you get some help, I recommend that you don't make any major changes in your life (e.g. separating). Things will be clearer once you have gotten some help. Good luck. Trying not to worry....

You are not alone in dealing with these kinds of feelings and thoughts! I'm glad you're reaching out and looking for help. My best suggestion (I'm a local therapist) is this wonderful, local, small group of therapists called Perinatal Psychotherapy Services. Donna Rothert, Gina Hassan, and Lee Safran, who make up this group, are all excellent therapists who see mothers in your situation and they also offer groups that support women through such times. You can definitely get help with this!

I could mostly relate to your post and would strongly recommend you see a doctor and consider anti-anxiety meds. I also experienced PPD after my second. While it didn't show up in the same way, I became obsessed with my own dying and leaving my kids without a mother. My spouse was somewhat supportive, butI didn't really see that until I got on meds. I went through this for an entire YEAR before I decided to take medication. Once on the meds, it was like a fog was lifted. Suddenly I could think clearly, take action. It was very life-changing. I was definitely having issues with my parents, work, and my spouse, but the medication helped me get around the anxiety issues and deal with the problems without feeling like no one was getting what I was saying. What was really striking is before the meds, I felt like I was being completely rational about my thoughts and feelings but once on the meds, I realized that I was not. I had never experienced any depression before so this was all new to me and because I considered myself to be a pretty rational and objective person, I was convinced that I had the correct point of view and everyone else didn't get it. I am sure there are meds that are safe with breast feeding. I was not breast feeding due to medical complications after my second so it wasn't an issue, but see your doctor. I also did therapy as well. I'm sorry your spouse isn't supportive, but if you take away some of the anxiety its possible you can work on your relationship with them and your other child. A few months out of your children's lives where you are checked out or full of anxiety is a big deal to them (and to you) and I say if I knew what I knew now, I would have gotten on medication sooner to prevent how things got worse. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. If it helps, I can say, it DOES get easier and better. mom to a 7 and 4 yr old

Oh, please, honey - print out your posting and make an appointment with your Ob/Gyn TODAY and show it to them. You have postpartum depression (anxiety is the most common symptom) and help is out there for you. It will get better, but you must get help with it. I am so sorry your spouse is not supportive. I hope your medical community will help educate him as well. Please know you are not alone - PPD is more common than we know. a bpn obgyn

I can relate to a lot of what you described. I am nearly 7 months pregnant with my second child and have developed severe anxiety. I had anxiety and PPD after the traumatic birth of my first child. This got better with the help of medication, increased support, and time. However, my now 22-month-old has autism, which is a huge stressor. Over the past few months, I have become obsessed with concerns that I have somehow contaminated my unborn baby (my concerns are less about disease and more about lead and other toxins) or hurt her in another way (bending over, lifting my toddler). Every day, I have so many intrusive worries around this stuff that, like you, I find it difficult to care for my older child who really needs me.

I do think professional help can sometimes be useful, but to be honest, there are so many poorly qualified or unskillful therapists out there, it can be tough to find a good one. I could see a good individual therapist or couples therapist being of help, though. It is very normal for couples to have problems following the birth of a child and a good couples therapist might have some excellent ideas (e.g., spending alone time together, improving communication) that could help you and your partner. Perhaps you can ask people you know whether there is someone they would recommend. Honestly, I haven't had any success in finding a therapist this time around. I am not a proponent of medication, but it worked for me, and it may be worth your trying an SSRI. You could continue to nurse on it or stop, depending on your comfort level. You might also look for a local support group. Sometimes talking with peers is helpful, too.

I am so sorry you are experiencing this. For what it's worth, you are definitely not the only one. You are welcome to e-mail me, if you think it would be helpful. renee

Dear Postpartum Mama:

I am a mental health professional and a mama to a toddler who went through something similar during my baby's first year. I struggled with an almost identical situation, except the fears for my baby's health were not quite as pronounced as yours are. You are not alone in suffering this by any means, and you are not alone in facing a spouse who cannot comprehend what you are going through and thinks you have morphed into a crazy, aggressive, irrational alien overnight, while you feel desolate and abandoned in your overwhelming anxieties and isolation.

There is a rational, observing part of you that is still able to assess your condition as out of balance, and this is good. This part of you is reaching out and calling to be helped. And that is so healthy! You are asking to be helped in your all-important role as the person responsible for the life and well-being of a newly-born little individual. There is no greater responsibility! You cannot do this in a polite and civilized manner because you are riding the crest of cosmic birth forces, to put it metaphorically but accurately. I frequently thought at the time of my struggles that a little clan of supportive mothers and female helpers would have made the storm much less forceful. It is a very adaptive emotion when tempered with guidance from caring helpers. Unfortunately, we mamas these days tend to be socially isolated, which makes us vulnerable to overwhelming emotional storms. That is a long way of saying that yes, you are suffering from a pretty serious case of postpartum depression, and yes, it is entirely understandable.

Given your immediate situation now, my urgent advice is for you to seek professional and supportive help now. At the risk of sounding flippant, forget your spouse right now. Politically incorrect or not, I am convinced that men are fundamentally different from women in this. They do not bear children and cannot imagine what this feels like, so their reaction to the postpartum mama bear syndrome is bewilderment at best. At best. And at this critical moment you two are both overwhelmed and not in any condition to to work on your relationship or understanding each other's point of view. That's a luxury you cannot afford right now. Please go take care of yourself by seeking immediate psychiatric support from your health care provider. Ask for support groups for new mothers while you are there. Do it today. No, do it yesterday. This condition tends to get worse if left untreated because the physical exhaustion accumulates and leaves you with less and less coping resources.

Here are a few reassuring words of advice, for what they are worth, while you are dialing your psychiatrist: remember, babies are not nearly as vulnerable to physical disintegration as we imagine. Babies are born in war zones, refugee camps, and slums all over the world. They live and continue to overpopulate our planet. The babies of our distant ancestors were being born in caves and on forest floors. They, too, survived without the benefit of modern sanitation or boiled bottles and pacifiers. Babies are incredibly resilient. What babies need more is an EMOTIONALLY clean environment. That means a mama who is calm, soothing and nurturing, not an angst-ridden one.

I would also emphasize that your toddler needs the same. So please, for the sake of both your children and yourself, don't worry about some traces of antidepressant in your breast milk. The advantages of a healthy, emotionally balanced and supportive mama far outweigh any negligible residue of medication in your supply. You need this support right now. And your older child needs you. He must be frightened to see the household spinning out into fighting chaos. Ask for anti-anxiety medication along with antidepressants, as the latter take a while to kick in and can initially disrupt sleep, which is the last thing you need. And anxiety is clearly a huge problem right now. Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you would like to talk more. I do get it. anon

Just wanted to express that I hope you do seek out support and find help during this difficult time. After the birth of our second child, I had a very rough time dealing with postpartum issues and my spouse and I were fighting a lot because we were both so stressed and devastated from lack of sleep. I had underestimated how much having a second child affects one's relationship with one's eldest child, and our eldest wasn't dealing well with our tense home and her unhappy mom and wailing baby sister.

I want you to know that it got a lot better for me, my daughter, and eventually for the marriage. The post-partum hormonal cocktail combined with all of the stress is intense and very difficult, but you may find that it eases over time and even a couple of weeks from now, you'll look back at the most difficult moments and it'll seem like a long time in the past. In our case, I felt better physically/emotionally at about 8 weeks pp but it took a bit longer for husband and I to really sort out our communication issues.

All of the above said, if you are feeling desperate or worried about doing something drastic, please seek medical help. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact it takes wisdom and courage to ask for what we need. Best wishes to you. Erin

I've never written in before, but I was compelled to answer your post. I could have written it myself about 7 months ago when my 2nd was born. I too was freaking out about everything, distancing myself from my toddler, scrutinizing the hand-washing from all who approached my baby. The Whooping Cough epidemic was in the news back then, and it made it worse. And when my toddler got sick and obviously needed her mama, I took showers in between cuddling her and taking care of the baby -- like 10 showers a day! I couldn't shake the feeling that I was going to lose this wonderful new creature in my life. I don't remember feeling the same dread and doom with my first.

I assume you will get a lot of Been There, Done That emails here. Please show your husband, so he can see it is normal. And don't be afraid to laugh about it. You are going through a stressful time. Human emotions are weird. But you love each other and have an amazing new addition to your family.

1) It is natural for your hormones to make you overprotective now. Please remind your family about this biological fact.
2) I don't think you are being unreasonable about the handwashing. It's simple and can help prevent a lot of misery.
3) You have to try to get over your fear and show your toddler some serious affection -- make a time to go out together when you will be away from the baby, just the two of you. Even if it's just for an hour. The difference will be amazing.
4) Keep an eye out for PPD and tell your husband to, too. If you ever start feeling destructive, walk away. I know that seems like the opposite of what you are feeling now, but the anxiety can build and take you new places.
5) It gets better each week
Hang tough, mama. Been There

I know a friend or two raved about the postpartum support group at Alta Bates. I never tried it, as my anxiety was more mild than what you describe--more of a complete feeling of being overwhelmed -- with my second + a toddler. What you are going through sounds so hard, but you are definitely not alone and can get help and support. Please do! It's out there. Concerned

I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know you feel alone, and that makes the whole experience so much worse. There are two things I want to stress: 1) You need someone who knows about PPD/anxiety to help you through this. Call your doctor/OB/midwife/doula to ask for recommendations for therapists you can talk to. Then make that appointment. Do it. 2) What you are doing right now (recovering from birth, taking care of two kids, being a partner, managing a household) is so, so hard. Remember that.

You need to take steps to take care of yourself. Everyone always said this to me, and I was like, whatever. But eventually I found that if I didn't deal with the acute anxiety I had after each of my kids was born, I very quickly went down the path of feeling alone and crazed with worry about my baby and the rest of my family. As that happened, my relationship with my husband became more and more strained. It's pretty easy to not make appointments or not take care of yourself because there are always things to do to fill that time--take care of the baby, laundry, grocery shopping, whatever--but it's so important to press pause on the rest of your life to take steps to deal with the very real feelings you are having. Supporting you from afar

Please do not delay and get professional help immediately. I went through a similar bout of anxiety/depression following my second child and it took weeks to get proper help. I was not interested in eating and had a hard time sleeping and had to force myself to do the daily steps of living for my kids. Ultimately, anti-depressants were the way to go for me and they made a huge difference. We tried at first to go to therapy and talk our way through the problem but that did not relieve any of my symptoms. I was saddened to give up the breast feeding as I loved that time but ultimately, I was a much better person, and parent, on the meds. My husband was also baffled and unable to understand; this is a deeply personal issue and he could not relate. I stayed on medication for almost a year and then was fine without any. After the birth of my third child, I was aware of the signs and had to take medicine again but avoided the agony of the first time. For many women, this is a chemical imbalance and there is no shame in taking anti-depressants. At the same time, you may benefit from therapy to deal with what you call irrational concerns about germs, etc. I want you to know that you are not alone and I think you should be proud of yourself for identifying that you have a problem. Please go get help -- it is a life saver. Fellow traveler

Your situation is very serious and almost surely due to whacked-out hormones and the stress of having and caring for a new baby. I would say call your doctor and convey the severity of the situation. If he or she isn't that helpful, I would continue to call them and bug them until they invest some thought and action in you. If they still don't help, I'd search for other sources - perhaps organizations like Planned Parenthood would help or could guide you? You are definitely under the sways and influence of postpartum depression - you deserve help and relief - don't stop until you get it. If you don't have the will or energy, ask a friend and tell her how desperate you are. If there's no one you can ask, post again here with more info so people can contact you more directly. Sending you love and caring wishes

I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. It is not your fault. Do not blame yourself. It sounds like you are dealing with post-partum OCD/anxiety. I am suffering from post partum anxiety as well, but am now in recovery.

First thing you MUST do, is find a professional who deals with this who can support you. He/she will guide you on how you can deal with your spouse. You can take your kid(s) with you and get support and help.

If you live in the East Bay, Lee Safran is a therapist who deals with PPD and other post partum mood disorders: Call her and if she can't take you/doesn't take your insurance, she will direct you to someone who does or who can do a sliding scale. She also runs a support group.

If you are in SF, the peninsula, or South Bay, or anywhere else and you can do the commute, contact Kris Peterson at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. They run an intensive outpatient program that you can bring your baby too. You can nurse your baby, rock them, hold them, etc. all during group sessions. I attended this for several months and found it life-saving for me, my relationship, and my baby.

You can also call the post partum depression warmline here: 800-944-4773 or maybe (888) 773-7090 Postpartum Depression Hotline. You have to leave a message and they call you back, but it's an excellent way to get support.

Also, there is this blog here: The woman who runs it had post partum OCD, so know you are NOT alone and this is very common. Also, there are A LOT of good resources on this blog that you might find helpful. There is also a yahoo group for silicon valley (and probably the entire bay area) here for PPD support: You should be able to find support and suggestions on here that are helpful.

It took a long time for my spouse to come around and be supportive and understand me and what I was going through. I also suggest you consider medication, but please see a psychiatrist who is familiar with post partum mood disorders before you see just any doctor. Lee or Kris (at El Camino Hospital) can direct you to good people. I wish I would have taken it sooner. Once I did many of my symptoms have been relieved or non-existent.

Also, you can contact me for support! Please email me and I will send you my phone number right away so you can call me if you need anything. Really. Hannah

I meant to respond earlier to your post but didn't get to it (how does everyone find the time to write?) Seeing those 22 responses reminds me how many of us struggle after having a baby.

I had issues very similar to yours after my baby's birth - but not the insight you have to see how irrational and fearful I was. I became very germ phobic and wouldn't go out with my baby, which made me feel insane. I wouldn't let others hold him which also didn't go over well with my family and friends.

A few things helped a lot. I did end up going on Zoloft which I think helped tremendously. I was very resistant to it but after thinking about it a lot in therapy, I decided to try it and I'm so glad that I did. I saw Lee Safran, MFT and she actually gave me an article about how women's brains look more like OCD brains after childbirth which I thought was facinating. I've always had some anxiety/OCDish tendencies like needing all the dishes done before I can go to sleep at night, but it really skyrocketed after my son was born. I liked her smart and non-pathologizing approach.

My husband and I also went to a workshop she presents called From Partners to Parents and it opened up a lot of opportunity for us to get back on track. I don't think he would go to therapy with me, but he was up for that and it gave us some tools to work together instead of against each other.

I so feel for what you are going through and hope you continue to reach out and get the support you need. Anonymous

I had similar difficulties many years ago. I know it's hard to think of others' needs right now, but looking from outside I think it's not reasonable to expect your partner to be endlessly supportive in this situation. You are clearly in the throws of a mental illness and need professional help immediately. Not just for your sake but for the sake of your son and new baby. You may be being passing on damage right now to your son, who cannot understand why you are rejecting him or have compassion for your struggles. Try to be the adult that a parent needs to be, and put your children first. Seek professional help. Anon

I read your post and I feel your pain! My baby was born almost 5 weeks ago and I had terrible anxiety after he was born. I had a lot of irrational fears--my biggest one was, ''How am I ever going to have a second child if I can't handle having the first?'' I was so depressed, I thought I wanted to die. It was horrible--I describe it to people that I went to hell and back. What helped me was talking to a therapist by phone (obviously I couldn't go to her office), exercising at least once a day by taking a brisk walk, and eating well. But most people need medication. Depression isn't something you can snap out of, or talk yourself out of. Don't hesitate: Talk to your OB and get on Zoloft or some other medication. It takes a few weeks for the meds to work so start right away. You don't want to miss out on the first months of your new baby's life, so PLEASE go get help asap.

A big thanks from the original poster to all who wrote in. I was deeply touched by the overwhelming number of responses and incredible amount of support I received. Reading the various comments has been extremely helpful and enabled me gain a fair amount of perspective. To the woman who stated she had never written in before - your post sounded all too familiar. I was really glad you decided to chime in. OP

Postpartum depression or just sleep deprivation?

Oct 2009

My husband is convinced that I am suffering from post-partum depression in addition to the effects of severe sleep deprivation due to the fact that our 6-month old baby refuses to sleep in the crib and wants to cuddle next to Mom and breastfeed all night long. I can't nap very often during the day because we also have a 2 1/2 year old.

I don't feel depressed. Its certainly true that I am exhausted all the time, distracted, irritable, have difficulty concentrating and completing tasks, and am not as cheerful as I used to be. But it seems to me that these are all natural effects of sleep deprivation. We're working step-by-step at getting the baby to sleep on his own in the crib, hopefully in another month or so we can all sleep through the night.

But maybe my husband can see something I can't, after all, he knows me better than anyone else. How would you tell the difference? Does anyone have any resources or suggestions for dealing with (possibly mild) postpartum depression and/or baby-induced sleep deprivation? Exhausted Mama

It is so hard, isn't it? I, too, have a 6-month old and a preschooler (and older kids). I would really recommend you check in with your OB. S/he will help you figure out which it is and will probably give you recommendations, which you can choose to follow or not. It can't hurt and may be just the ticket. Hope you find an answer and get some sleep! been there too

Your post reminded me of my own mixed feelings re: postpartum depression versus exhaustion. In the end, I think there is a very fine line between the two. I know that I was in a fog after having my second child and couldn't sort much out. I too, felt more irritable than depressed, but in retrospect learned that this can be a main symptom of postpartum depression.

I met for a while with a therapist, Lee Safran, who was recommended on BPN. She was extremely helpful in terms of gaining some perspective on what was going on for me. She had me fill out an evaluation form which helped me clarify both what was and wasn't ''normal'' for having 2 kids (and a partner who worked long hours.) I would recommend her highly. She can be reached at 496-6096.

Please take good care of yourself. It is really tough work taking care of two little ones. - No longer sleepless...

I can relate to how you feel. Frankly, it probably doesn't matter too much what you call it at this stage unless you feel that you or your baby is in danger. Of course the best bet is to talk to your doctor, but since you asked BPN, I'll give my $.02 worth. Short of drugs for depression, the prescription for both conditions is similar: try to get more sleep, get out of the house into the sunshine every day, try to exercise regularly, eat well, and make sure you have some time to yourself. Sleep training your baby to sleep in her own crib may help. Getting yourself to bed earlier will probably help, too. That's hard to make myself do, since it cuts down on my down time. I'd suggest telling your husband to stop worrying about the label and help you implement some changes that will make you feel better. Good luck. also a tired mama

It sounds as if your husband is perceiving you as depressed because you're not as cheerful and accommodating as you used to be. And it's true that people who are depressed may not always be aware of it. But there is no simple test for depression and I doubt you have time or energy for counseling or starting up with medication. Plus, if your POV is that you are tired and stressed, pay attention. That needs to be addressed FIRST if you are depressed. Try simple solutions before you embark on more complicated solutions.

So before you ask for Prozac: have hubby watch the kids for 1/2 hour every day (and for longer 2 days a week) while you go for a walk and have some time to yourself. Fresh air and exercise are excellent anti-depressants--recommended by my psychiatrist. Once or twice a week, spend an hour or two to get together with a friend or read a book or do something just for you.

My guess is that you'll come back feeling better ... and your husband will be asking for Prozac! Fix the Fundamentals First

It seems like mild PPD and the effects of sleep deprivation could feel nearly identical--I guess the question is what could you do to feel happier, better rested and more like your old self. I experienced PPD after my second child, and it was my ob-gyn who ''diagnosed'' me. I began treatment with zoloft which lifted my mood almost immediately, but now I can't get off it! You are smart to really check in with yourself on this on. Would you feel better with a little yoga (for instance), help with childcare, help with house cleaning, etc. or do you need to bring in the big guns (meds)? Good luck to you! anon

My husband also expressed concern about post-partum depression when my son wasn't sleeping through the night, but in my case it was just sleep exhaustion from having a new baby. Everything cleared up after my husband went back to work & I could nap in the daytime. My pediatrician also helped me out with ideas about how to get my son to sleep on his own at night.

Your obstetrician or GP could help with post-partum depression or determining if it's sleep deprivation. You could also check & see if there's different symptoms for those conditions.

A whole month for a sleep solution sounds like a really long time to me - and most babies have another sleep transition at 9 months, so you might hit that at the end of your plan. If it were me, I would check in again with my pediatrician about the sleep plan. Good luck! Alison

Feeling so depressed with 3 month old

May 2009

I feel like I am going crazy! I have a 3 1/2 month old son and all of a sudden I am feeling so depressed and having anxiety. I was FINE until a week ago. About 2 weeks ago I finished nursing, I had worked SO hard at it, and now I keep wondering and feeling guilty as to why I stopped after 3 months it wasn't very easy for me and i kept telling myself I would stop after 3 months, so I did. I immediately went on the BC pill, didn't like that one, so changed to another one. My husband and I went away for the night last weekend without the kids and the day after I got home, I started having panic attacks and feeling depressed, I now feel like I don't want to be around my 3 1/2 month old son anymore and I want someone else to take care of him. I also feel like I don't love my 4 1/2 year old son as much as I did before my other son was born(I also went through about 5 miscarriages in between kids, so my 4 1/2 year old was EVERYTHING to me). With my 4 1/2 year old son and I had a bad but very short bout of baby blues with him when he was born for only about 2 weeks. Also, my 3 1/2 month old was in the NICU for a couple of days, but is okay now. but, up until a week ago when I started feeling like I don't care about him anymore, I was so worried about every aspect of his development, not I feel like I don't care. I want my life to be like it was a week ago. I just feel like I don't want to do this anymore, why in one week has this changed after 3 months!!! Will I get back to normal?? my old happy life and feelings?? thank you!

It could be due to finishing nursing. This does change your hormones -- which can cause all kinds of emotional changes. I stopped nursing when my son was about 11 months old, and went through about 3-4 weeks of feeling like I was losing my mind -- angry, anxious, depressed, you name it. Then, just like that, it went away and I was fine. Karen

I have this suspicion that you're suffering from a hormone crash from weaning. When I weaned my first child, about a week later I went in to the blackest, darkest place I have ever been in my life. I could barely get off the couch, and life has never felt so bleak or awful to me. It lasted a couple days until it dawned on me that it was probably hormonal, and I took some B vitamins and started feeling much better relatively quickly. You said you're on BCPs, so if you're dealing with a hormone shift from weaning + synthetic hormones, you may be on overload. I would get off the BCPs temporarily until your feelings stabilize. I don't want to discount PPD, and you may very well be experiencing that, but I think you have to give your body a chance to recover from all the hormonal shifts before you can really assess if something else is going on. please don't feel bad about feeling bad!

I am a Marriage Family Therapist and although I can't diagnose what's going on without actually seeing you I believe you have a very clear case of Postpartum Depression. It can come on very quickly as your hormones are still all over the place. When you describe the lack of concern about your children and not wanting to be around them...this is basically textbook PPD (Postpartum Depression). I would encourage you to call your OB/GYN ASAP, tell him/her what you said in your post and tell them you need an appointment right away. There are many good meds that can help you through this rough patch. The feelings that you're having don't make you a ''bad mom,'' so please don't go there. PPD is actually quite common and you need medical intervention and support from family/friends to help you during this time. Jody

please, find yourself some help! check out the SF Women 's Mood and Hormone Clinic, even just for advice on a local therapist/psychopharmacologist. Or go to your OB or internist, any doc you really like, and see if they can give you a referral to a therapist and a psychopharm. Your hormones could have shifted from the weaning, or it could even be the birth control pills. Don't feel guilty for weaning! Just do what feels right for you. Also have your reg doc check your thyroid. From someone who has been there all I can say is take care of yourself-- for you and your family. A happy mom makes a happy family! There is no shame in treating an illness, and it sounds like that is what you have. Depression or another hormonal imbalance can absolutely cause all the feelings you are describing and there is help out there. Good luck!!! been there

Weaning causes hormonal changes, and the emotional distress you are feeling has a physical cause. Your brain is doing a number on you. I wouldn't wait for it to get better on its own. Run, don't walk, to your doctor. I hope you feel better soon! depression sucks

You need to talk with your OB/Gyn about this because this is most likely postpartum depression associated with tthe hormone changes of weaning and starting birth control pills. Please call your doctor TODAY! I had similar feelings right after the birth of my second child and zoloft saved my life and sanity, and my kids. This may or may not be the solution for you, but you must call your doctor. Do it for your children, and for yourself. You are not yourself, but you can be back to normal soon if you act. Been there

There is a huge hormonal shift with weaning. Not sure, but it sounds like you abruptly weaned. This can bring about PPD! Aside from that obvious point, it is SO tough in the beginning months to mother two children. Right on the surface or buried deep within is this horror that you've somehow betrayed your first baby by bringing another baby into your lives. If anything goes wrong (even a rough, developmentally appropriate patch), it is SO easy to blame yourself. DON'T! Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. Realize how common PPD is, and treat yourself kindly. Enlist as much help as you can. Realize that this point will only last a short time. Been There, Happily Done with That

My heart goes out to you and I can totally relate. I went through the same thing. I had never experienced depression before I had kids. With my first, it was mild and didn't last long, but when I had the second kid, I slowly slipped into depression and anxiety. I didn't even think it was depression. I felt that any anxiety I had was completely rational. I started drinking. As soon as my husband walked in the door, I popped open a bottle of wine. My anxiety would manifest itself in the middle of the night where I'd wake up in a panic. I refused to accept treatment for entire year. then, my parents came up for a visit and we had some horrible fights and in hindsight my side of the argument was completely irrational. I was paranoid. it just escalated so I finally agreed to take Celexa. The medicine worked almost immediately. It was like a fog cleared. I just coudln't believe how much better I was. I was on the medication for 8 months and then got off and I've been fine ever since. So, see a doctor, go to therapy and possibly get some medication. As my doctor put it to me, ''you might get over this in 6 months to a year on your own, but 6 months to a year is a LOT of time to check out on the lives of your children.'' anon

What I am wondering is why you feel ''pressure to get yourself off the meds.'' It sounds like they are doing a world of good for you... which means they are helping you to take good care of your baby.

I have been on celexa for about 4 years. When i got pregnant last year, I was very concerned about continuing. I consulted, at length with my psychiatrist and with my OB, about the possibility of damaging my child in ANY way. After looking into medical research, not on google,we all agreed that the research showed that the side effects were very minimal for celexa - And that it was VERY important to have a happy mommy.

There is such stigma about anti-depressants. Consider if you were a diabetic; you would need to take medication to maintain proper chemical balance in your body. It's the same with mental health issues. The off balance of chemicals in your brain is not about you; and it's not about you not trying hard enough or being strong enough to overcome it. It's simple a chemical imbalance.

{I work in mental health as well. thanks for the opportunity to say my two cents about this!}

Postpartum depression the second time around

Jan 2008

I had postpartum depression with my first child, which was a horrible experience (in part b/c I had no idea what was wrong with me for months before I got help). I'm 5 weeks away from giving birth to my second child, and feeling upbeat and happy, but am worried about the chances of having postpartum depression again. From doing a little bit of research, the statistical chances of having a recurrence of postpartum depression are surprisingly high (50-80% likelihood). Some research suggests that women begin taking anti-depressants right after the baby is born in anticipation of a recurrence. Prozac worked with me the first time around, but it seems a little crazy to imagine taking anti depressants before depression hits me (but also crazy to even let myself get depressed again). I'd love to hear about the experiences of others who had postpartum depression with their first child, and whether or not they were hit again the second time around, or what they did to stop it from recurring. Thank you for sharing! nervous mama

I, too, had postpartum depression after my first child was born. Like you, I didn't quite realize what was going on until well into the descent, and it was a terribly difficult time for me, not to mention for the rest of my family. When I became pregnant again (when my son was 14 mos.), I began a dialogue with my OB at my very first appointment. She directed me to a therapist, and I met with her twice before baby #2 was born (both meetings took place the month before I delivered). Though I was feeling upbeat and happy (again, just like you) during the second pregnancy, the therapist thought the meetings would be a good idea, just to 'set the stage' for support, in case the PD hit again. You might be encouraged to hear that I did not have PD the second time around (and I was fully expecting it, to be honest, since I had read the statistics, too). I tell you my experiences so that a) you know that beating the odds does happen, and b) because I encourage you to set up a network of support before birth anyway. Not only did the therapist recommend a few approaches to help deal with immediate postpartum stresses before they ballooned out of control, but I also felt enormously relieved just to know that she was there with her arsenal of knowledge (and meds!) if I needed her. My second baby is now 9 weeks old, and I still feel pretty great. I sincerely wish the best for you and your growing family! Happy Mom

Dear Nervous Mama, You are very smart to be asking these questions now, before you have your baby. Though I had PPD following the birth of my first child (onset 4.5 months), which was successfully treated with an antidepressant after a difficult period, I somehow didn't think to anticipate that it might hit me again the second time around. Boy did it, and I was completely unprepared. My PPD was *way* worse after my second child (onset 3.5 months), and, unfortunately, not helped by the same anti-depressant I had used during my previous go-around. It was a hellish many months before I got any relief. I guess what I am trying to say is that if I had to do it over again, I would take meds before I became symptomatic in the hope of avoiding the many months of misery. The down-side, of course, is that if you take drugs you'll need to decide whether you feel comfortable nursing your baby. Many women, I know, make that choice, but I for one did not, fearing that their neuro-chemistries would be affected by even the small amount of drug that makes it to breast milk. Good luck, whatever you decide. Been There

Dear nervous mama, I was very much in your same shoes 2 1/2 years ago when my second was born. I was terrified of going through what I did with my first (BTW my ppd also came on 4 mos after but if I had really ''checked in'' with myself I could have caught it earlier). This was what I did:1)had my OB prescribe me estrogen to keep myself from the hormonal ''freefall'' (she gave me a super low doseage patch--very easy to use and no problem with breasfeeding. It can lower milk production but didn't for me and I didn't care anyways) 2)made sure I got enough rest. I napped when my baby was napping, or at least lay down to rest. I was able to do this by 3)keeping my 2 day/week nanny to watch my first even while I was off work for my second 4)took care of myself. I really tried (and had my family being vigilant) for any of the signs that occurred the last time (anxiety, inability to sleep, apathy, anger, etc). I also took omega 3s and flax seed oil (both supposed to help with depression and easily available). I also got as much sun and outdoor time as I could and saw (or phoned) friends when able to. Amazing how 15 or 30 mins of ''friend time'' can change outlooks! Hope this helps. You are welcome to contact me through the moderator if you need more info or want to email or chat. mgh

You might think this is really gross but my midwife suggested that we make our placenta into herbal treatments. So I think we are going to have some dried and ground and made into capsules (last about 6 months) and some made into a tincture (lasts forever). It can really help to start taking these soon after the birth and then decreasing them slowly to help with postpartum depression and I have never heard of any negative side effects to you or your baby if you are breast feeding. Its something to look into. I have been depressed during the pregnancy so I plan to have these options for after if they are needed. So I haven't yet tried them myself. placenta's against depression

Post-partum depression: 6-month-old twins

I am the mother of six-month old twins and am not sure if I'm suffering from postpartum depression or just dealing with the reality of how hard it is to care for two somewhat demanding babies. When I read the symptoms of postpartum depression, it doesn't really seem to apply to me, yet I'm definintely in a pretty serious funk. So far, motherhood has not been what I expected, and it's really got me down. More than anything, I'm afraid I'm missing out on the joy of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I love my babies very, very much, but don't feel this overwhelming, awe-inspiring bond that people talk about. Have any of you had similar feelings? If so, did they pass as the babies got older? Should I seek professional help?

As a parent of one-year-old twins, I know how hard it can get. I used to look at folks with one baby and I would wish that I could have had that quiet, introspective time playing with and focusing upon only one infant. I remember the extreme exhaustion of dealing with two babies, the diapers, the feedings, and, above all, the crying. We survived by getting out every chance we got with the twins--and letting other people tell us how special our babies were. We would go to the cheapest and noisiest restaurants in the city just to remove ourselves from our apartment--plus the kids liked the visual stimulation.

All I can say that it will get better. It happened with us at around 11 months. Suddenly our boys were chasing each other around the crib and laughing hysterically. They will begin to entertain one another. Now I can take both of them out to dinner on my own. Because twins are so difficult at first (and I can't imagine what triplets would be like), when it gets easier, it seems as if a tremendous weight has been lifted.

A great resource is the San Francisco Mothers of Twins club (, which has a wonderful newsletter (The Diaper Rag) and a great bulletin board on line. Bill

I haven't been in the situation of having twins, but as a parent of one child, I found that taking care of a baby was both wonderful and exhausting and frustrating. These experiences could alternate within the course of 15 minutes. What I found helpful was social support, time away from the baby and being in a mother's group. Many mothers work out at the Berkeley Y, and take advantage of the low-cost childcare while getting exercise, which helps modulate moods. Sherry Reinhart also does mother's groups -- she has a web site and I'm sure is listed on the Resources part of the UCParents' site. Also, activities you can do with your babies, like Baby Bounce at the library, or hanging out at Totland, help break down isolation. I think our society perpetuates a myth that good mothers are always enthralled with the minutia of baby care, and manage to handle every part of it by themselves. Most people I know have had feelings quite similar to what you've described.

Get help! You are way too tired, stressed and IMPORTANT to spend any more time wondering if you are bad off enough to need professional help. My experience is that EVERYONE open to professional help benefits from it -- whether they would survive without it... You don't have to feel awful to feel better. Heather

You're at the point where the novelty of having two babies has passed and it's just exhausting. If you're like me, when my twins were 6 months old, you don't floss regularly, bathe often enough, or eat properly (much less watch a good rental or read a good book) because you're too tired. But this phase passes. My twins are almost 8 years old, and I enjoy their company, their conversations, and feel how much joy they add to our lives. Being mother to twins means constantly adjusting as the demands change and realizing there are times in your childrens' lives that you'll enjoy more than others. I had two other moms with twins the same age and hanging out with them (even meeting with all the babies in a coffee shop once every 2 weeks) was a great support. Maybe go to a Mother of Twins meeting and find a friend who's in the same boat. Ann

I am a single mom of 17 month old twin boys. I love my guys dearly and I am telling you the first 6 months with them were the worst 6 months of my life. Don't be too hard on yourself. My biggest problem was sleep deprivation, and that lack of sleep affected every part of my life. I have a friend who says that Infancy is wasted on the sleep deprived It is very hard to enjoy babies when you are exhausted in every way. I was irritable and anxious and resentful; it was really hard. I too felt guilty for not enjoying every moment with them...sometimes for not enjoying ANY moment with them =). If you have not already done so, you should think about joining a mother's of twins club (twins by the bay is the one I belong to). You will find that what you are feeling is common and you will also find that the advice you have probably heard a lot from other twin moms is true: It will get better. Just when you think you are going to give them away to the next stranger who says she has always wanted twins, they will sit up and play with a toy and you will realize that your life just got a little easier. Hang in there! Nicole

Postpartum anxiety - haunted by fears

Dec 2004

I have been dealing with Postpartum Anxiety for the last year. I had a milder case of it with my son and now with my daughter it's worse, including a couple anxiety attacks. Sadly, I didn't realize that that was what I have been going through. I had a really traumatic childhood and figured it was triggered by the birth of my children and preceded to go to a psychotherapist who diagnosed me with childhood trauma and unfortunately didn't know much about Postpartum.

After talking to a friend who told me about her postpartum depression and anxiety experience I did a bunch a research and realized I am suffering from Postpartum Anxiety and have been for almost a year now. I am doing better but still am haunted by some fears especially of dying. I am looking for any kind of support group or a therapist that deals specifically with these issues. I am also really wanting to hear from other women who might have experienced this. I have felt so lonely and isolated, thinking something is really wrong with me. Any support or information would be so appreciated. Thank You

I feel for you! I had very bad Postpartum Depression & Anxiety and I saw Alisa Genovese. I won't hesitate to call her a lifesaver, and I continued to see her long after the PPD had subsided. Been there

You are definitely not alone. I experienced post-partum anxiety with both of my children, somewhat delayed--at about 6 months post-partum. I was plagued by worries of dying and also had some panic attacks. Therapy has helped, and when I do find the time to exercise, I feel so much better. anonymous

Zyprexa for post-partum anxiety?

Oct 2002

Since having a baby 18 mos. ago I've been experiencing increased anxiety, insomnia, temper, etc. And recently it's been exacerbated by some major life changes. I started going to counseling, and recently went to the doctor in search of some additional help. My doctor prescribed Zyprexa as a mood stabilizer. I looked up info on the web and it seems that this drug is primarily used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I was hoping that someone might be able to provide me with some personal experience with this drug...and perhaps the difference between it and Paxil or Celexa (or other more common anti- anxiety meds). Thank you so much. anon

I would be cautious about the Zyprexa. My doc also recommended it for me for some situational anxiety and insomnia and my therapist was quite surprised and thought it was totally overkill - it's an anti-psychotic. I took one, one day and it made me feel immediately much better but I was also totally exhausted. I'm staying away. I'm wondering who your doctor is, and if it's the same one as mine.... Anonymous

I had a fairly severe post-partum and went UCSF women's hormone clinic. They are no longer prescribing Zyprexa for woman as it puts on a lot! of weight quickly -10 pds a year. Ask your Doctor about Neurontin. It is being used to treat anxiety/mood instability and is excellent. It may make you tired or fluish in the beginning, but after 10 days you will not notice it. No weight gain and less dulling of the mind than Zyprexa. The clinic is excellent. Dr. Shane McKay in Berkeley trained there. Hope it helps. Good luck. anon

Please be cautious with Zyprexa. I have taken it and know well it's side effects. If you would like to talk with me further, I 'd be happy to e-mail back and forth. anon

I agree that Zyprexa (also known as olanzapine) is an unusual choice for the concerns you mentioned in your letter. I strongly recommend that you ask the doctor for his/her reasoning in using that instead of the more typical interventions for anxiety and depression, and perhaps get a second opinion from an independent psychiatrist. Some antidepressants are contraindicated in people with a family history of bipolar disorder, but you didn't mention that in your letter. anonymous with degree in pharmacology