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The First Year of Parenting

"I Knew I was in Trouble": One Woman's Experience with Postpartum Depression

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of 17. It was debilitating, but I was able to maintain a career, and I married when I was 23. I spent years deciding if I wanted to have a baby since I was on anti-anxiety medication and was concerned how it would affect a pregnancy. In addition, I didn't want to pass on my condition to a child.

By the age of 38 I couldn't wait any longer and became pregnant. I was managing my anxiety, though still debilitated by it. I worked with a psychopharmacologist regarding my medication and determined that the risk of harm to my pregnancy was negligible. I also began to see a therapist who specialized in reproductive issues.

Within three weeks of my daughter’s birth I knew I was in trouble – I couldn't eat or sleep. I knew I was the worst mother in the world, and I couldn’t stop crying. At my therapist’s suggestion, I signed up for a visiting mom's program through a local social service agency. An agency social worker gave me a screening questionnaire for postpartum depression, and I scored higher than anyone she had ever tested. I began taking an antidepressant and felt relief within days. I also attended a group for new moms with anxiety and postpartum depression.

I’ve worked harder at this than anything I have ever done. My daughter is now two and a half, and I am considered “in remission” (I can now drive, take public transportation, travel to new places). I am still taking both medications and probably will for the rest of my life, but I am able to do anything I want and, most importantly, I know that my anxiety isn't affecting my daughter.

To read other stories of women who have experienced or are experiencing postpartum depression, see http://www.ppdsupportpage.com/groupmembers.html.

To find information and  resources on postpartum depression, see Postpartum Support International.

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