Moms and depression, how many of us have it?

Filed under: Just For Moms, Your Pregnancy, Work Life, Places To Go, Health & Safety: Babies

One of my favorite activities involves sitting down with my laptop, a cup of tea by my side, and reading my daily list of favorite blogs. I don't read newspapers, nor do I watch much television, so these daily reads are my main contact with friends in the computer and the world outside of my doorstep. Nearly all of the blogs I read are written by mothers who are either struggling to work and juggle children or mothers who are staying at home with their kids and trying to earn a bit of money at the same time. One theme I encounter again and again through the many blogs I read is depression, anxiety and post-partum depression (PPD). It seems that so many of us are either experiencing symptoms, trying a new medication or wondering if our current medications are working for our symptoms.

When I was first diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) about six years ago, I was rather private about my struggles with panic attacks. I was embarrassed by my inability to function in everyday activities of being a mother. But then a year ago when I went to the doctor after experiencing nearly a year what seemed to be post partum depression, I decided that coping was more important than privacy. At that point PPD was added to my diagnosis of GAD and my doctor gave me a prescription of Prozac. I took it for about 6 months and gained nearly 15 pounds, then I began to experience symptoms of extreme fatigue. I thought I was dying of some horrible disease. I went back to the doctor and returned home with a prescription of Effexor. That medication lasted for two weeks before I quite because my eyes would pop open at 5 a.m. and remain open until 3 a.m. the next morning. I simply could not exist on what I called the Effexor Roller Coaster. This summer I again returned to the doctor for symptoms of panic attacks and have recently begun a low dosage regime of Lexapro in the mornings followed by another low dosage of Klonopin in the afternoons. My doctor says the dosages are so low that they would likely not help most people, but for my intolerance for most medications they seem to be working. By taking the prescriptions at the designated times I have been able to keep most of my panic attacks at bay and function as a pretty decent mother.

I know I am not alone in my mental health struggles as a mother. Many mothers are coming out and speaking their minds about depression and panic. Brooke Shields penned a book after her bout with depression. Dooce, one of the more popular blogging mothers, has shared her nearly every moment of her depression with her readers. I think it is a wonderful release that more mothers are willing and able to discuss their struggles with anxiety and depression. A diagnosis of either does not mean that we are insane or incompetent; it does not put us in a class with the Andrea Yeates' or Susan Smith's of the world. It simply means that we are trying to function as healthy, whole individuals.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.