I can sit here and give out all the advice that I can possibly think of to help with postnatal depression, but if you’re in that bad of a place you simply aren’t going to care. This is why antidepressants are the first thing that I’m going to talk about as part of my postnatal depression toolkit.
If you feel the symptoms of postnatal depression, or depression in general, then the very first thing that you should do is go and see your doctor. It took me six years from when I first had depression. But my wife eventually made me go. They’ll take it from there, but one thing that you can do is ask to be put on medication. They may resist, but at least you can have the discussion.
Arguably, it’s the easiest, fastest and least straining solution to beating depression. All you have to do is take the antidepressants and hopefully let them do the work. That’s exactly why it’s such a wonderful solution. But it’s one that can quickly turn into a crutch.
I understand some people don’t like the term “emotional crutch” but since when was it a bad thing to use a crutch? No one looks down on someone who’s sprained their ankle and requires a crutch, so this is really no different. Either way, it can help alleviate the symptoms of postnatal depression, even if it often does so by masking them.
Don’t be afraid, or feel like you’re being weak by opting to take medication. You wouldn’t judge yourself if you had to take insulin as a diabetic, so don’t feel bad for needing a little bit of medical help for depression.
Antidepressants and Me
I’ve been there. I’ve been on medication before. I had one horrendous night in March of 2016 (after years upon years of an up and down battle with depression) where I knew it was either time to sort myself out, or I wouldn’t be around much longer. That was my rock bottom. And that was when I finally turned to antidepressants.
The first time I took them I lasted about seven months until I just stopped. Was it a good idea to just stop? Probably not. But the day I stopped taking them was the day I knew I was ready to do it myself.
The second time came shortly after Isabelle was born when I had postnatal depression. I needed that quick lift, placebo or real, to get me out of the pit I was digging myself into. I couldn’t afford to allow myself to get worse like I did before. There was also a baby and a wife who needed me. So I wanted the fastest solution I could get, and medication was the first thing to start my recovery going.
I’m not totally sure they helped massively, I think a lot of my recovery came through myself, but it certainly didn’t make things worse. But it wasn’t long before I took myself off and opted to just go it alone.
The Pros of Taking Medication
Medication has its place. For me, it’s there to give you enough of a lift for you to be able to sort yourself out. It’ll help you be able to install good habits into your life; correct your thought patterns and generally realise what it’s like to actually feel good.
Don’t get me wrong, I dare say that some people have genuine neurochemical deficiencies. And when it comes to postnatal depression there is the potential hormonal drop to deal with. And as such, someone might have to remain on antidepressants long term.
I do believe that anyone can be depression free without the aid of medication. I don’t massively like the long term use of medication, but if there’s a constant chemical imbalance, then it might be needed.
There’s also the argument that if it works for someone then why change it? If you’re depression free with antidepressants then maybe it’s for the best to stay on them. This is all down to personal choice.
Breastfeeding and Antidepressants
Of course when it comes to postnatal depression there might be a chance that you’re also breastfeeding. This obviously wasn’t something I had to worry about, but it is an important thing to bring up. The NHS state that you can take antidepressants whilst breastfeeding and you simply have to talk to your doctor about it.
Are There Negative Side Effects to Antidepressants?
Obviously like any medication antidepressants can have their side effects.
My main issue with medication is that people can get dependant on them. They see them as the reason why they’re feeling better, and rather than take it upon themselves to fight the battle, they leave it up to the medication. I see why someone would do it. It is the easiest way to handle depression. But personally I don’t see it as a long term solution, and it’s something that can hinder someone’s recovery in the long run.
Making the Symptoms Worse
Not only that, there are in fact side effects to these drugs that can sometimes make the symptoms worse. You just never know what’s going to come up. Things like anxiety or suicidal thoughts can grow stronger; the usual things like headaches and nausea, and for some, you’re even more likely to be affected by anger.
To put it mildly, there are a lot of possible side effects. Personally, I had the occasional side effect that would sometimes worsen my mental state. It was actually a big reason why I stopped taking them. It’s important to state that if you feel any negative symptoms then you should just return to the doctor and ask for something else. There probably will be something that they would be able to find that will work.
If you do feel like you’re depressed, then I do recommend at least seeing the doctor about it and exploring the idea of taking medication. If they work and you want to stay on them for the long term then that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t be afraid to explore other avenues to see what else can help in your recovery too.