The transition to parenthood is hard (or the transition to adding another child). Even mothers and parents who are excited to welcome their child(ren) have to reckon with sleep deprivation and the all-encompassing task of looking after a newborn. Furthermore, those who have given birth will have to work through an enormous shift in hormones—a shift that affects moms physically, mentally, and emotionally. Most new moms report feeling random bouts of sadness and anxiety in the weeks following birth, but for some, these feelings develop into more severe issues such as postpartum depression.
Thankfully, treatment options are available to combat the adverse effects of PPD. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression in Massachusetts, read on.
Resources for Postpartum Depression in Massachusetts
What is Postpartum Depression?
Bringing a new baby into the world is an exciting time for families. It is also a tumultuous time for mothers as they experience all the physical and emotional changes of becoming a parent. Although about 40-80% of women experience the “baby blues” within the first few weeks after giving birth, these overwhelmed feelings of sadness become more serious mental health issues for approximately 1 in 7 women. Personally, just based on experience, I believe this number is significantly higher, but many mothers don’t reach out for help or get a diagnosis. Postpartum mental health issues such as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are common but treatable.
The “baby blues” include mood swings, random crying, sadness, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. These feelings usually fade within the first month postpartum. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and inability to cope with parenthood changes are signs of postpartum depression. If left untreated, postpartum depression can be dangerous for mothers and their children.
Perinatal mood disorders are the number one medical complication after giving birth. Perinatal mood disorders include postpartum depression and other mood disorders, such as anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and postpartum psychosis.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of treatment options available for parents struggling with postpartum depression. Counseling and therapy, medication, exercise, and support groups can be beneficial ways to combat the effects of postpartum depression. Postpartum mood disorders are common, and treatment is nothing to be ashamed of. New moms need all the help and support that they can get!
Counseling is an effective way for moms to talk about their feelings, work through their thoughts, and learn coping strategies. Therapy can be one-on-one or in a group setting. Antidepressants help alleviate some of the effects of postpartum mood disorders. You should always ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Supplemental supports like yoga, meditation, and exercise can also help combat the difficulty of postpartum depression. Support groups help moms connect with other moms, learn practical coping skills, and reduce the sense of isolation in early parenthood.
What Resources Are Available for Moms in Massachusetts?
The Ellen Story Commission & PSI-MA
Created by a Massachusetts statute in 2010, The Ellen Story Commission on Postpartum Depression is a legislative commission that seeks to research and investigate issues of postpartum health, such as postpartum depression. The name reflects retired State Representative Ellen Story. The commission meets quarterly to assist families dealing with postpartum depression. It guides the government in detecting and treating postpartum depression and raises awareness of postpartum mental health issues.
Postpartum Support International in Massachusetts (PSI-MA) dedicates itself to promoting awareness, information, prevention, and treatment of perinatal mental health issues affecting mothers and their families. PSI volunteers help guide mothers or their loved ones through the process of finding a mental health professional in a convenient location. These locations have experience treating perinatal mood disorders like postpartum depression.
Volunteers help find therapists, medication prescribers specializing in pregnancy and lactation, and local peer support groups. PSI also has a national helpline for calls and texts. Additionally, they have over 400 support volunteers that help mothers get connected with the right local resources.
Each year, Postpartum Support International hosts Climb Out Of The Darkness. In this international movement, people host local walks and events to spread awareness about women’s mental health challenges after giving birth.
A Climb can be a park playdate, a hike, or a more elaborate event. Most Climbs take place in the summer, symbolizing a woman or family’s climb out of the pit of anxiety and depression. This is an event where people gather as a community to walk, socialize, and meet other survivors and activists.
MCPAP & Support Groups
Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) partners with William James College Interface Referral Service to develop and maintain community resources that support moms and dads experiencing mental health issues related to parenthood. This organization maintains a comprehensive list of support groups by geographic area.
Support groups include the:
- “Mother to Mother” Breastfeeding Support Group,
- Baby Cafe,
- Breastfeeding Support (through La Leche League),
- Community Birth Loss Support Group,
- Coping with Stress and Difficult Emotions During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period,
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program
Coping With Stress And Difficult Emotions During The Postpartum Period is a support group for women who have recently given birth and are experiencing a hard time dealing with stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms.
This 10-week group utilizes CBT, ACT, DBT, and mindfulness skills. Group discussions focus on applying the skills learned in the program to the realm of motherhood and transitioning into parenthood. It also addresses how to cope with the physical and emotional changes women experience during the postpartum period in a friendly, supportive environment. This environment allows women to gain social support from other moms.
MCPAP also has various online resources, including education on sleep hygiene, creating an action plan, and taking care of yourself during the pandemic. MCPAP connects mothers to online chat services, general help lines, postpartum depression help lines, and other resources.
Postpartum Depression Massachusetts
Postpartum depression is a debilitating but highly treatable perinatal mood disorder that affects many women following childbirth. Although the “baby blues” are common and often last several weeks, postpartum depression is a more severe mood disorder that affects a woman’s quality of life and ability to function. Left untreated, postpartum depression can lead to more severe consequences for moms and babies. There are many options for postpartum depression in Massachusetts for moms and their families regarding mental health issues, from online resources to helplines to support groups. With community support, medication and therapy, and a strong family support system, mothers can recover and thrive as they journey into parenthood.
For more motherhood resources, click on the blog links below. Then, let’s chat about capturing the joyous moments of the maternity journey to hold on to forever.