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Post Partum Anxiety/Depression (Anonymous)

March 14, 2008

I had a beautiful baby girl about 8 weeks ago. It seems like almost as I had her I begin to live in so much fear and struggling with anxiety. My moods were very extreme from highs to lows. It seemed like anything overwelmed me, to the point were I could not even make simple decisions, like what to have to eat. I remember at first being affraid to be left alone with the baby, in fear that I was not adaquate enough to take care of her. It seems like every other day I was breaking down and crying in pure fear and anxiety. The part that made me really feel crazy was some of the time I did not even know what I was afraid of. One week I put off going to Wal-mart for 3 days because I was scared to go alone. But yet there would be other times when I was fine to go somewhere alone. I thank God for my very supportive partner and mother. With out him and my mom I don’t know how bad off it would of gotten. I have been to a couple counsling sessions and I just started Zoloft last week. My counseler says she feels that I may have more of the anxiety than depression. My Ob/gyn prescribed Zoloft but says I need to get in with a psychiatrist. the thing is the soonest I could get with one was three weeks so we figured that the zoloft would help me till then. The thing is that the Zoloft kind of makes me feel numb of all emotion like even joy. It also has caused me to have lock jaw for a week straight now and I am not sure if it is just because I am watching for it now but it seems like my baby is sleeping more. I am breastfeeding and am concerned that it could be affecting her. Most of the research I have done has claimed that Zoloft is safe for nursing moms. My little angel and I have been through our ups and downs with breast feeding, she has a sensitive tummy and I have given up broccoli, onions, garlic and all dairy because it affects her too much. I want to keep breast feeding that is why I don’t mind giving up all the foods and dairy. But I do feel I need some sort of medication and just don’t know what to do. I guess I need some advice on my whole situation and especially the part of taking meds and nursing.

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27 Responses to “Post Partum Anxiety/Depression (Anonymous)”

  1. lorien Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I took Zoloft when I was nursing–I decided that my daughter’s babyhood would be too short to spend it in my haze of depression. She is now a happy, healthy 3+ year old who weaned last fall. I am positive that I made the right choice for me and for my family. It will probably take the Zoloft at least a few weeks to kick in–maybe up to a month, you will have to give it time, though I know that is hard. Hang in there. I suspect the lack of emotion is from the depression (that’s how it manifests for me, anxiety and lack of joy) not the zoloft, since you just started taking it so recently.

  2. cara Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I agree with Lorien about the Zoloft. Give it some time. I am taking Zoloft and nursing and everything I have read and all that I have experienced tell me that it’s safe for my kid. He is 2.5 and I am so grateful for medication to help me be the best mom I can be for him. Hang in there. There is no shame in needing help. Give it time and continue with therapy and breastfeeding. The bf’ing will help you bond and will also ease anxiety with the release of prolactin.

  3. Debra Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I am a public health nurse (and mother of three myself- had severe PPD with my first and to a lesser degree with my other two)and help people in your situation very frequently. It is good that you are receiving some help but I would also recommend trying to find a support group specifically for women with PPD/anxiety. Perhaps your doctor could refer you. Regarding the meds and breastfeeding- there is an excellent resource in Canada to provide the latest research through the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It is called Motherisk- I’m not sure if you can access it outside of Canada (not sure where you live) but the number is 416-813-6780. Above all, continue to receive help- PPD is a serious but treatable condition and I know it can feel horrible- but you will feel better in time. Best wishes

  4. Sierra Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I suffered from severe PPD after I had twins. Hit me like a load of bricks because I had been fine with my first daughter. I was prescribed Zoloft by my OB/GYN after an emergency appointment. I was stressed; sleep deprived and felt like a failure, but I obviously needed some help. The Zoloft made me too flat. I almost would have preferred it the other way. My OB switched me to Prozac and within 2 weeks I felt normal. Still sleep deprived and stressed, but normal.

    Everything you are feeling is normal and you do have help. Talk to your doctor… flatness seems to be a common side effect of Zoloft but there are tons of meds out there to treat PPD. I nursed my girls for 6 months. By the time they were 6 or 8 months old I was off the Prozac, but would take it again in a heartbeat. Good Luck!

  5. Kerstin Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    So sorry to hear you’re going through this. I’ve been there myself and know what kind of hell you’re in. The good news is though that you are already seeking and getting help!!! That’s the best thing you could have done so far. I took zoloft too and it saved my life. I wouldn’t be here had I not taken it. It does take a while, so you just have to go through it…sorry..i know it’s so hard when every second seems like a day. But hang in there and just believe that IT WILL GET BETTER. I chose not to nurse with Zoloft, but I know a lot of people do. It IS supposed to be safe, so if it’s working fine, go for it. I had other issues (my milk supply dropped) and reasons to quit nursing, you know. Get better soon!!!!!

  6. mary Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. I strongly suggest you visit http://www.mothering.com and go onto the discussion boards. You can browse and search for all kinds of information – there is specifically a mental health thread too. If you sign up (free) you can also post questions about your exact situation and get feedback from other moms who have been there. Good luck.

  7. FortunateOne Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Some of the anti-anxiety Rxs, including Zoloft can cause you to clinch which can make your jaw feel like you have locked up over the night especially if you have any tmj. I am not a woman, but I suffer from anxiety, it is not a disease it is a disorder of your nervous system, like diabetes, or high blood pressure so try to relax, you are better off taking it. The numbness for me has worn off. I take effexor and I credit my health and well-being to this medication. I do not like taking it but if it will ultimately help me, well so be it. Best of luck, go see a psychiatrist.

  8. Paula N. Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I hope my response doesn’t anger anyone or appear overly odd. I also hope that my response doesn’t make you any more fearful or anxious than you already are.

    When I read your post, it did not sound weird to me AT ALL.

    Let me begin by telling you that I am a pretty happy and, I guess, normal person. I’ve never been seriously depressed, so I’ve never taken anti-depressants.

    You talk about being fearful and anxious. This seems pretty normal to me–especially considering the fact that you had your baby about 2 months ago!!! I don’t know about you, but I was still achy and weak 8 weeks after I delivered each of my kids. You’ve barely just healed! What I’m trying to say here is, considering how physically weak you are at the moment, your fear, anxiety and paranoia make total sense. Hope this doesn’t trigger any weird feelings for you, but imagine if you were to get attacked at a parking lot–you have a newborn baby and a postpartum body! What do you expect to do? I’m pretty sure you’re not functioning at the same physical level as you were before you got pregnant. Maybe your feelings of fear and anxiety is your body’s way of telling you, “Hey! Don’t put yourself in a relatively un-safe position right now, even if it’s only slightly un-safe! You need help and a bit of physical protection because I’m not in the physical condition to protect you or your offspring YET! Stick around people who can help you!”

    Did you suffer from depression or anxiety prior to becoming pregnant? If so, you may have an anxiety problem (don’t take my word for it, though, as I am not a physician). If not, I would personally hold off on taking meds until your body heals completely and you regain your stength–maybe your hormones might re-balance themselves.

    Maybe you are just feeling the way you need to feel right now. I don’t know. Personally, (and this is just me) I would not take the Zoloft. Where did you look to see if it was safe for breastfeeding moms? I wouldn’t trust it unless I got hold of and read a long-term study where they studied the breastfed children of women taking Zoloft, and I don’t think anything like this has ever been done.

    Listen, you CAN take care of this baby. It’s always scary the first time, but believe me, you can do it. Your feelings don’t seem weird. You’re afraid–well, yeah, taking care of a newborn for the first time IS scary! They are so small and seem so fragile! You can do it!!! Just give it one more month–you’ll be a pro! Plus, they get so lush and bubbly by the third month, too!

    God bless you! I will be praying for you and your lucky daughter! You seem to be a GREAT, CONSCIENTIOUS mom! Keep up the wonderful work!

  9. Melissa Says:
    March 14th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I’m struggling with this, too and just started taking zoloft after dealing with postpartum depression and especially anxiety for 14 months. I am feeling better already and wish I had done something about it sooner rather than suffer for the first 14 months of my son’s life. I’m still breastfeeding, too. Best of luck to you — I wish you the best.

  10. melissa Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I took Prozac for anxiety several years ago, before I had my baby girl, who is now 3 months. Prozac and Zoloft are both SSRI’s – which means they use the same mechanism to treat mood problems. I found the prozac worked well for the anxiety, but I did feel “numb” – even to joy – as you are describing. Be sure to voice your concerns to your doctor and therapist. Perhaps trying another type of drug would help, but make sure the prescribing Dr understands that you are breastfeeding.

    I have postpartum depression, but am trying to manage on my own. Maybe that’s a mistake. I was a psych major in college and feel that I should be able to cope. But I really HATE how my body looks now. I was always lean and firm prior to pregnancy. Now I have a squishy midsection that I hate. What’s worse, I hate seeing the trim, athletic women in magazines and on television. I fear that my husband doesn’t find me attractive anymore, and wishes he could be with someone prettier. I’ve caught him looking at other women lately. I cry every now and again out of frustration.

    I am so glad to find a site that celebrates REAL women! Even though it’s hard for me to accept my postpartum body, I know I should cherish it for helping nourish and bear my precious little girl.

  11. Brandie Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I am currently on Zoloft too, and started it after my 2nd daughter was born (she nursed until she was a year), and has not had any reactions to it, she’s a very healthy, active 2 1/2 year old now.
    I felt the same reaction when first starting it, and it does take a while for it to balance out. Be sure to keep your doctor updated on your symptoms and be sure to take it daily (my husband can tell when I haven’t had my medication). Also, have your doctor check your thyroid. This can also cause depression and cause you to feel tired or down and tired.
    Good luck sweetie, it’s great to see that you have a great support system and that you are reaching out for help!

  12. Lizz Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I’ve experienced PP panic disorder. It was hell. I healed myself naturally. I am stronger today.

    I have 5 children and am a birth attendant.

    I’d like to direct you to Post Partum Support International:
    http://www.postpartum.net/

    A good place to start.

    Blessings~

  13. Cecilia Nyberg Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 4:34 am

    I’ve been where you are exactly, but for me the zolofts didn’t work – I lived with this anxiety for ten years until a new medicin, Efexor, which also affects the levels of noradrenalin, not only serotonin, became my salvation. You’re making the right decision; my childrens first years was clouded with the anxiety I felt and thinking back gives me absolutely no joy at all. I wish I could do them all over again. Thank god my kids grew up alright, healthy and happy anyway! If zoloft doesn’t help you, don’t give up. There are other medications to try. Good luck!You’re already a great mum!

  14. Rose Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I never got any relief from Zoloft. I did a lot of research and between my doctor and I we decided to switch to Cymbalta. It has not been tested in nursing moms so your doctor might not prescribe it, but anecdotal evidence shows it is safe (and we have had no problems with my daughter, who is 8 months and nursing.) Cymbalta is my wonder drug, nothing else even comes close to working like Cymbalta does. For me the effects are noticeable within a few days and full effects within a few weeks. Hope that helps some!

  15. Mom of One Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I am 29 years old and the proud mom of one four year old daughter. I have suffered off and on from depression/anxiety for approx. 15 years. In those 15 years, various doctors have prescribed over 10 different medications for me. As far as I know, there ARE certains meds that are okay to take while breastfeeding – but not every med works for every woman. You may down the road have to try a couple to see what works for you – keeping in mind that side effects can last for at least a few weeks and the medication may not even be effective for at least a month – so don’t give up on them too quickly. I have now chosen that to work through my anxiety, I prefer to exercise, do deep breathing techniques and stay away from caffeine. I only take anxiety medication when I have an actual panic attack. Oh, the locked jaw MAY be from your anxiety. I had a locked jaw for over 3 months, and it turns out it was from being so anxious – and once I learned how to deep breath and lead a more “stress free” life, the jaw got better on its own. It is possible to get through this and please know that you are not alone. It can be a very lonely time when suffering from anxiety, but there IS an end. Even if there’s not a complete end, there are ways to manage the anxiety and once you can learn what is right for you, you’ll feel more “free” and content. Hang in there – I have spent the past few years worrying that my problems would affect my daughter, and I can happily say that my little girl is bright, happy and vibrant. Take care!!! And do what’s right for you.

  16. erica Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Oh, My dear, I am thinking of you and please give the zoloft time to kick in…it will help. I have a daughter who is just shy of a year old, and a son who is four. I took zoloft after having my son for 8 months or so, and I have been taking it now again since my daughter was about 2 months, and am in the process of weaning from it,(not weaning her from nursing!) My son showed absolutely no adverse effects from my taking the Zoloft…and is an EXTREMELY bright and vibrant four year old. My OB and my general practitioner both counseled me extensively the first time I went on Zoloft…I had both anxiety and depression, and loved my little guy more than life itself, and they taught me that the most important thing was that I get a handle on how I was feeling so I could enjoy his babyhood as well as be the best, most present and available mommy I could be. He nursed for 14 months, until he self-weaned. My daughter is an excellent nurser and a thriving, healthy baby. One thing I have come to realize now four+ years into my life as a mommy, is that things that I worry about affecting my children…and I can be quite the worrier…rarely do end up affecting them negatively. And just to let you know…the first time I went on zoloft, it was a few weeks, and I wasn’t really feeling better yet, and I remember distinctly the day that I left my son home with daddy and went to grocery store, and I was in the frozen veggie aisle, and it was like I felt this sense of peace wash over me, and the anxiety lessened quite a bit at that moment, and I think in retrospect that it was when the medicine was kicking in. I was on 50 mg of Zoloft that time, and have been on 25 mg this time around, and I really don’t think it has worked as well this time around. I also have had the side effect both times of feeling sort of numb…like not able to cry, and my libido…. DEAD…but, it had still been better than I was feeling with being paralyzed by my anxiety and depression. I also suffer from anxiety-heavy PPD…so, anyhow, I will be keeping you and your little one in my heart and my thoughts and prayers…let me know if I can be of any help. Erica

  17. Dawn Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 12:24 am

    I’m sorry you are going through this. I don’t have any personal expierence with PPD or PPA. But I do think you should keep taking your medicine, I know a lot of women how have taken Zoloft during the pregnancy and after. Their babies are beautiful, healthy, and happy. Sometimes the benifits just out way the risks and every doctor I know says that a healthy non-stressed out mommy is the best thing you can give your baby. If you have to stop BFing don’t be to hard on yourself, you’ll be able to enjoy your DD a lot more with meds than off them. Good luck with everything, I’ll pray for you.

  18. Kier Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 7:14 am

    I am currently taking zoloft after suffering severe PPD with my 2nd daughter. I also took it with my 1st – who is now a very happy, healthy 2.5 year old.
    It’s so important for our children to have happy, healthy mommies! You do what you need to do to stay that way for your sweetie. =)

  19. Melinda Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    I wanted to tell you that what you feel is very common. I have a 3 year old little girl and had I known that PPD was so common I would have gone on something when I had her. Looking back I was very depressed. After the recent birth of my second daughter it was way too much to bear. I talked to my doctor and she supported me totally. I started on Zoloft and took it for a month and didn’t really feel any different. We increased the dosage and it has been a world of difference for me. I truly feel like a different person, the person I used to be. The person and the mom I should be. I breastfed my first daughter until she was 2 and was scared to take anything which was part of the reason I didn’t talk to my dr then. I am breastfeeding my second daughter and feel totally comfortable in taking the Zoloft. I think there are a few other meds that are safe while nursing too but I think you should give the Zoloft a few weeks to work and see how you feel. Your body needs time to absorb and regulate the dosage. You’ll feel better soon. If not talk to your dr about increasing your dose. Lots of hugs to you!!

  20. Emily Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 8:07 am

    I don’t have any experience in this area, but I just wanted to tell you to hang in there, give the drugs a few weeks to kick in, and be good to yourself. It will get better. Good luck.

  21. Kate Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I tried zoloft too. when I was on it, I had no sex drive and that sucked. I would reccomend to you joining an all womens gym. I also suffered from depression/anxiety, you name it. I joined an all womens gym and it changed my life! not only does it get you out of the house, but almost all of the women there have been where you are. It will also help your self confidence and your physical health and well being. I only took zoloft for a month and I found that I felt better after a good workout and socializing with other women than on meds. I was also nursing but I would pump and be at the gym for only an hour. Leave your baby with your mom or partner and go exercise your mind and body I promise you will feel fantastic! Best of luck.

  22. Anna Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I agree with Lorien. I had twin sons and felt the same way. I too began taking Zoloft before I even left the hospital and I breast fed.
    It does take time for it to fully work, so try to be patient.

    If there are times when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope- call someone- anyone… even a neighbor and ask them to just come over and hold the baby for you while you go shower or whatever.

    You’ll be alright. Know that.

  23. Rebecca Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Hey there, I have no personal experience with anti-depressants, so I have no valuable advice there. BUT, I did want to say it’s worthwhile to take Omega-3 vitamins, too– they’re fatty acids your body needs, but are all too deficient in the average American diet– and which get further depleted by pregnancy and breastfeeding. Omega-3s are critical to a person’s wellbeing, and can definitely affect mood (I can attest to that!). Ask your doctor if there’s a particular brand they recommend (myself, I use Nature Made), but whatever you pick, make sure it’s been tested for mercury. (Most Omega-3 pills are made with mackerel and sardine oil, and you want to make sure it’s not mercury-filled.) Exercise is also a good mood-lifter, but that’s easier said than done with a new baby in the house! :) Best of luck to you, mama… I’m sure you’ll be fine. :)

  24. KAS Says:
    March 18th, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Hang in there girl you will soon feel better. I myself was once in that similar place you describe, with my first born twins. My life was mixed with intense joy, love, raw emotion, anxiey, sleeplessness, and a constant doubt that I was a failure at this task of mothering. When considering getting help/RX I resisted until the babies were 9 months old. This was due to the fact that I was nursing and thought rx and nursing did not mix rather than research I just said I would stick it out, which sucked. Finally I was told from a nurse of a great breastfeeding website: http://www.kellymom.com I started to go there every hour to research. Soon I was on Paxil which is similar to Zoloft and life has been better ever since. The site provides lists of rx that are safe to take while nursing, Zoloft is said to be the “best drug choice so far” for breastfeeding moms. Check it out.
    Good job for seeking help early.

  25. Danica Rochester Says:
    March 18th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I suffered from depression for years before the birth of my daughter, and was reluctant to take anything. Thankfully, medication and counseling helped me to regain my perspective, and I realized that being healthy and on Zoloft was better for me than going without. I made sure to consult with my doctor when I found out I was pregnant, and she assured me that it was safe to use during both pregnancy and nursing. All the research my husband and I did on our own confirmed this, and I felt totally comfortable taking it, especially knowing that I was doing everything I could do to be a good mama to my daughter, both before and after she was born. She never had any reaction to it, and I knew that I was doing the best thing for us. I also thought a lot about how I want her to learn that there is no shame in needing help, and that asking for it and accepting it in fact sometimes require a lot of bravery. This is the example I want to set. I was able to go off the medication when she was about seven months old, and feel happier and more balanced than I can ever remember being. My daughter is now 15 months old, and perfect. Our babies grow so quickly, do what you need to do to be able to enjoy this time. I highly recommend a support group; talking to other women who have been thorough the same thing can be just as helpful as correcting the chemicals in your body…
    Best of luck to you and your family!

  26. Liz Says:
    April 6th, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I have suffered with anxiety since I was in middle school so when I got PPA it was nothing new. I decided to deal with it without meds though I did see a couselor. I dug myself in my passion which is photography and kept my mind off my symptoms. I incorporated my son in thia as much as I could and made the moat beutiful baby album. It took about 6 weeks for the PPW to go away but of course it felt like 6 years. For those why have experienced this-you know what I’m talking about. The worst first mistake that a person with PPA makes is to believe that it’s never going to go away. It will- just give it time, talk your loves ones, spend quality time with your child and dig yourself in a healthy hobby. Soon you will be back to your good ‘ol self.

  27. sher Says:
    November 13th, 2009 at 4:17 am

    im struggling with this AWFUL illness right now…and just when i think i found the right help this time…its not even it! i know im suppose to be strong about all this but its so hard i just wish i could start all over…i think women go through this cause they werent taught about kids to much while growing up i know i wasnt….but ive tried like 6 dofferent meds and none of them agreed with me i just got proscribed zoloft yesterday and i cant sleep because of it!its driving my head nuts n giving me ugly pictures and everything in my head i dunno if im over tired but yea this is scary!!!im thinking im gonna go the all natural way….straight councellin g n tylenol for my bad tension head aches!

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