Why join a PPD support group?

A support group is an organization that brings together people who share or have gone through common disorders or life experiences such as postpartum depression (PPD), child loss, grief, addiction and anxiety among others. These people meet together to share their experiences and provide emotional support even as they go through their different challenges. As such, a PPD support group seeks to provide psychosocial and emotional support for moms struggling with this form of depression.

These groups are typically led by a mother who has gone through PPD and has made a recovery in what is known as offering peer support for affected moms. Peer support is one of the most powerful ways to reach out to moms with PPD – there is the aspect of knowing and understanding that if one mom can make it, they too can pull through. It is a lovely reminder that one is not alone, that there are others struggling with the same. This helps to banish the isolation that many moms feel. It has a positive outcome, and while it is not meant to supplant medical intervention, it is a helpful coping tool that compliments medical treatment and therapy. In some settings, a professional such as a psychologist, therapist or trained counselor may be present to walk the journey with the moms.

Support groups will vary in how they are run (depending on the members’ needs) but the groups are usually small and intimate. The groups meet on a regular basis and are guided by a set of rules such as confidentiality, how long the group runs and topics to be discussed among others. The group leader may facilitate the meetings. The end goal of a support group meeting is to offer support, reduce the isolation and generally help moms recover. Remember that support groups do not replace personal therapy sessions or medication.

NB: Watch this space for some good news… soon 🙂

 

 

THE EDINBURGH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION SCALE (EPDS)

Postpartum Depression (PPD), same as Postnatal Depression (PND – which by the way, I have found is used a lot in the UK) is one of the most common mental health disorders in women. Statistics show that between 11 and 20% of women who deliver every year will experience symptoms of PPD. That’s about 2 in every 10 women are going to get PPD. One of the tools that has been developed to identify women who are at risk of perinatal (that is both antenatal and postpartum) depression is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). EPDS is an efficient screening tool that consists of 10 questions listed alongside a set of values. Below are the guidelines for using the EPDS.

  1. The mom-to-be/ mom is asked to tick the answer that describes closely how she has been feeling in the previous 7 days.
  2. All questions must be answered.
  3. Caution should be exercised to ensure that answers are not discussed as this could skew the results. That is, answers should only come from the expectant woman or mother herself.

NOTE: The EPDS is not a diagnostic tool and must be used alongside clinical assessment. For this reason, it should not be used for self-diagnosis. If you go through this set of questions and suspect that you may be suffering, consult a doctor to ensure you get professional help. Secondly, one of the questions (#10) is on suicidal thoughts and must be answered before the report is submitted. If the item is checked, a follow up should be made so as to ascertain the level of risk and make the necessary arrangements for mother and child.

Read More: Depression during pregnancy

As you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, we would like to know how you are feeling. Please check the answer that comes closest to how you have felt IN THE PAST 7 DAYS, not just how you feel today. 

Here is an example, already completed. 

I have felt happy:

 [ ] Yes, all the time 

 [X ] Yes, most of the time 

[ ] No, not very often

[ ] No, not at all

This would mean: “I have felt happy most of the time” during the past week. 

Please complete the other questions in the same way.

 

In the past 7 days:

  1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things

[ ] As much as I always could

[ ] Not quite so much now

[ ] Definitely not so much now

[ ] Not at all

 

  1. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things

[ ] As much as I ever did

[ ] Rather less than I used to

[ ] Definitely less than I used to

[ ] Hardly at all

 

*3   .I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, some of the time

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, never

 

  1. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason

[ ] No, not at all

[ ] Hardly ever Yes

[ ] sometimes Yes

[ ] very often

 

*5.  I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason

[ ] Yes, quite a lot

[ ] Yes, sometimes

[ ] No, not much

[ ] No, not at all

 

*6.  Things have been getting on top of me

[ ] Yes, most of the time I haven’t been able to cope at all

[ ] Yes, sometimes I haven’t been coping as well as usual

[ ] No, most of the time I have coped quite well

[ ] No, have been coping as well as ever

 

*7.  I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, sometimes

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, not at all

 

 

*8.  I have felt sad or miserable

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Not very often

[ ] No, not at all

 

*9   I have been so unhappy that I have been crying

[ ] Yes, most of the time

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Only occasionally

[ ] No, never

 

 

*10.The thought of harming myself has occurred to me

[ ] Yes, quite often

[ ] Sometimes

[ ] Hardly ever

[ ] Never

 

SCORING

QUESTIONS 1, 2, & 4 (without an *)

Are scored 0, 1, 2 or 3 with top box scored as 0 and the bottom box scored as 3

QUESTIONS 3, 5¬10 (marked with an *)

Are reverse scored, with the top box scored as a 3 and the bottom box scored as 0

Scores

0-9: Scores in this range may indicate the presence of some symptoms of distress that may be short-lived and are less likely to interfere with day to day ability to function at home or at work. However if these symptoms have persisted more than a week or two further enquiry is warranted.

10-12 : Scores within this range indicate presence of symptoms of distress that may be discomforting. Repeat the EPDS in 2 weeks time and continue monitoring progress regularly

. If the scores increase to above 12 assess further and consider referral as needed.

13 +: Scores above 12 require further assessment and appropriate management as the likelihood of depression is high. Referral to a psychiatrist/psychologist may be necessary.

Item 10: Any woman who scores 1, 2 or 3 on item 10 requires further evaluation before leaving the office to ensure her own safety and that of her baby.

 

Resource Material

Source: Cox, J.L., Holden, J.M., and Sagovsky, R. 1987. Detection of postnatal depression: Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. British Journal of Psychiatry 150:782-786.

Screening for antenatal depression with the Edinburgh Depression Scale

 

 

 

5 Celebrities who have opened up about their struggles with Postpartum Depression

Maternal mental health is an important part of public health, and a major challenge across the world. According to WHO, 13% of women who have just delivered will suffer some form of mental disorder. This figure is known to be higher in developing countries where the statistics paint a grim picture of 19.8% of women affected after child birth. In extremely severe cases, many moms die by suicide following unaddressed mental health challenges.

It is important to mention that postpartum depression (PPD), one of the most common perinatal mood disorders, can affect anyone including celebrities. Contrary to popular belief, the risk factors associated with PPD do not exempt the rich and famous. A number of celebrity moms have gone public with their PPD stories. I am an advocate for celebrity moms creating a shift with this because it is a loud message to the ‘ordinary’ mom that motherhood may not always be a glowing bubble.

Read More: My Postpartum Depression Story

Adele

Adele opened up about her struggles with Postpartum Depression in an interview with Vanity Fair. She admits to having bad PPD and been so scared. She made a point to add that it helps one become a better mom to cut themselves some slack and take some time off. In her words,

“My knowledge of postpartum—or post-natal, as we call it in England—is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms.”

 

Gwyneth Paltrow

American actress and singer,Paltrow has admitted to struggling with PPD following her son’s birth in 2006. In an interview with People, the mom of two confessed to feeling nothing, and having no maternal instincts for her son. She added that, while she harbored no thoughts of harm, she did not experience the blissful doting emotions either.

“I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.”

Fortunately for Paltrow, support from her husband helped her on the journey to recovery.

Read More: #postpartumdepression: The conversation on Victoria’s Lounge (NTV)

Kendra Wilkinson

In an interview with OK!, Kendra, a reality TV star and mother of two spoke in detail about experiencing PPD after her son’s birth. Her account shows that PPD does manifest in different forms, and can be a very subtle thing. For many affected moms, there is little energy to do the most basic of daily tasks, and this includes showering and combing hair.

“After giving birth, I never brushed my hair, my teeth, or took a shower. I looked in the mirror one day and was really depressed.”

Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen wears many feathers on her hat: model, TV host, best -selling cookbook author and mother. It is the latter that has, in 2017, endeared her to many moms following her admission that she struggled with PPD after giving birth to her daughter Luna. In her candid interview with Glamour, Chrissy wrote,

“I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy. What basically everyone around me—but me—knew up until December was this: I have postpartum depression. How can I feel this way when everything is so great?”

She goes on to add some of the symptoms she had:

“Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful. My lower back throbbed; my ­shoulders—even my wrists—hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me… I also just didn’t think it could happen to me.”

She admits to never leaving the house and spending days on end on the couch, with endless bouts of spontaneous tears before she was finally diagnosed with PPD and postpartum anxiety. Chrissy got professional help, medication and had a support system especially from her man, John Legend.

Chemutai Sage

Locally, Chemutai Sage, a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist went public about her struggles with PPD. In an interview with MumsVillage, the singer mentioned realizing something was amiss when her daughter was about 5 months. During this period, she would experience crazy emotions which she often associated with her child. She kept thinking to herself,

“If I didn’t have the baby…”

In the MumsVillage show, Sage shared that she did realize these were not commonplace emotions, something which got more pronounced with her inability to leave her room for days – there was simply no joy in doing so. Sage did get help, and had a strong support system that helped her in her recovery journey.

Read More: #postpartumdepression: The conversation on MumsVillage

This post is a reminder that, if you are struggling with PPD, you are not alone. By speaking openly about this form of maternal disorder, celebrities amplify the voices of many moms who may be going through the motions in silence. Remember too, that you can get in touch (via the contact page) if you are wondering where to get help or need someone to talk to.

Featured Image

 

 

 

 

 

#postpartumdepression: The conversation on MumsVillage

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is going to be pretty short; the conversation on #postpartumdepression over at MumsVillage.

Postpartum depression is a condition that affects 1 in 7 mothers, and there is every reason why we should talk about.

The facts haven’t changed; if anything, moms are at risk now more than ever, partly because of the dynamics of the world we live in. This is why, any chance to talk about postpartum depression is welcome. Last month I had the opportunity of filming with MumsVillage on one of their episodes which went Live yesterday on the MumsVillage Facebook page. The show was hosted by the lovely Janet Mbuguah and Isis Nyong’o. Alongside Sage, musician and songwriter, we spoke about the challenges of parenting with PPD, ways to take care of yourself and of course that help is available. (Side Note: It really is amazing when a public figure/ celebrity opens up about their struggles with mental health. It gives other moms a powerful voice to know they can be heard and acknowledged. Thank you Sage. Janet Mbuguah is also doing a great job by talking about the less glamorous side of motherhood. Do check out her social media platforms for this.).

Watch that episode by clicking on this link.

Image credits

 

 

Lifting the lid on postpartum depression

It is always an honor to be featured on someone else’s blog because it means one thing: more people are reading (and learning, hopefully) about Postpartum depression (PPD). I will never tire of talking about this form of depression, in part because i know how much mental health sucks. I am grateful for the different platforms I have been featured on (see this page). Today’s post was one featured by Kalekye Kasina, an award-winning journalist with a passion for health matters, which is how I got to share my story with her.

I met Kalekye at a volunteer meet-up organized by Carol Ng’anga, founder of the HELD organization  – an organization that offers help for those affected by cancer as well as creates awareness on the same. I am always amazed at the resilience and sheer determination to forge forward by Carol and her team. So, anyway, the volunteer meet-up yielded friendships, and this post is one of the fruits of the same. Thank you Kalekye for highlighting postpartum depression and the reason moms need to get help.

Read the featured post by clicking on this link.

Happy reading! And remember, you are not alone in this. Do get in touch using the contact page if you need any clarifications or would like to speak to a professional.

Image credits

Suicide Crisis Helplines in Kenya (and parts of Africa)

Good afternoon everyone,

It feels good to be back, on here and online. I took a break last week even as the election season culminated in the voting process and tension in parts of the country. Over the years, I have learnt that staying plugged in during such times, or when there is a crisis, say a terror attack, always tips me over with anxiety. I start to feel helpless and worn out, partly because in many cases it may not be possible to help directly. If I don’t address it, I start to feel myself teetering on the edge of a depressive breakdown, and it is not pretty. So I guard my heart and my mental well-being, to ensure I can function, and take care of my son.

In recent times, I have had conversations with moms struggling with postpartum depression in different stages (Read more of that in this post), and it is always encouraging to see many moms share their stories. With the mention of suicide ideation and attempt (this mom did get help and made a recovery), I thought to put up  list of suicide crisis helplines in Kenya. A little while later, I got an email notification for a new post by Sitawa on the same. I asked her for permission to share the same on this blog, so credits go to MyMindMyFunk. Here is the link to the original post:

KENYA
  1. Befrienders Kenya +254736542304 +254722178177 (regular call charges apply) Formerly Samaritans offer free listening services to people who are in crisis and/or suicidal. https://www.befrienderskenya.org
  2. Niskize -‎ ‎0900620800 (Ksh 7 per minute) is a 24 hour counselling call centre that deals with relationship/marriage issues, trauma, grief, anxiety, depression. http://www.niskize.co.ke (currently down but check their Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/Niskize/)
  3. One2One by LCVT – 0800720121 (toll free) works on HIV related issues among young people including the psychological effects of those issues. ‎http://www.lvcthealth.org/one-2-one
  4. 1195 by HAK (toll free) works on Gender Based Violence and related issues, borrowing from my personal journey these issues can lead to psychological trauma if felt unchecked. http://hakgbv1195.org/
  5. Have to throw in 116 (toll free) for child abuse
ACROSS AFRICA (in Alphabetical Order)
Botswana
  • Lifeline Botswana – 3911270 is a national lifeline 24 hour service.https://m.facebook.com/Lifeline-Organisation-Botswana-798239733539364/
Ghana
  • Lifeline Ghana – +233244846701 or +2332 444 71279 (regular call charges apply) is a 24/7 suicide prevention counselling telephone line
  • Mental Health Authority Ghana – 050 991 4046 and 020 681 4666 dedicated lines for persons in need of psychological help or contemplating suicide.
Nigeria

  • MANI Distress Lifelines – 08060101157, 08136770508, 08093565520

South Africa

  • Lifeline South Africa – 0861 322 322 (toll-free) works 24/7 dealing with trauma, suicide and other psychological issues. http://lifelinesa.co.za
  • Crisis Team – +27 83 256 5993 is a 24 hour support service for those with suicidal thoughts and feelings, the bereavement of the loss of a loved one to suicide and other traumas. http://www.crisisteam.co.za/
Uganda
  • Befrienders Uganda – 0800200450 runs a crisis intervention center at Mulago national referral hospital. http://befriendersuganda.org/
Zimbabwe
  • Samaritans Bulawayo – +263965000 offers face to face counselling (walk ins and appointments) www.samariansbyo.co.zw

Feel free to share this post. Stick it up somewhere visible and most importantly, USE the information if need  be. Remember, there is NO SHAME in asking for help.

 

 

 

World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD)

Today, May 3rd 2017, is World Maternal Mental Health Day. In fact, all of this week is World Maternal Mental Health (WMMH) Week. It is observed in the first week of May (from 1st), and just as the name suggests, this week serves to raise awareness on, not just Postpartum depression (PPD), but other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

In many parts across the globe, as many as 1 in 5 women will experience some form of PMADs. The fact that many of these conditions go unchecked, coupled with their devastating effects is more than enough reason for WMMH week. Women, regardless of their age, social status, religion, education and social influence, can be affected.

Read More: Postpartum Depression, What is that again?

The symptoms of these PMADs show up between pregnancy and 12 months after child delivery. These symptoms are varied, and affect women differently. The good news is that there is help available. Moms need not suffer in silence, but the question remains, is there enough awareness on maternal mental health issues? And how else would we raise awareness other than talk about maternal mental health, sensitize the community, reduce stigma and remind women they are not alone?

Part of the reason why WMMH week is observed globally is to change attitudes because, there is no health without mental health. Raising awareness will steer social change and encourage affected women to speak up and ask for help.

Remember: you do not have to suffer alone in silence. Get in touch through the contact page (confidential) if you need to speak to a professional.

This is why I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret

“Awwww, he is so chubby and adorable, look at him…”

I often got this when my son was still an infant, never mind that he is now a grown champ who prefers bouncing off walls and seats to, well, sitting still for 5 microseconds, (comes with the age I guess. We are at five now). These words, while very well-meaning, were like an empty reverberating echo in my mind.

‘Couldn’t they see I was struggling with motherhood? Couldn’t they see the hollow posts I put in my coded Facebook updates? Perhaps if they looked closely, they could see the hollowness in my sleep-deprived eyes…’

Maybe they couldn’t see it. Even if they did, maybe they couldn’t understand what I was going through. That was it!

They may never understand why bonding was so incredibly hard, why the proverbial blissful motherhood feelings seemed to elude me, why many of my nights were spent muffling my tears in the already soaked pillow.

Read More: Getting Help

They may never understand what it is like to suffer in such silence, struggling with every passing moment. What words would explain that though I struggled to bond with my son, I cringed at the thought of been his mommy because I felt he deserved better? Because I felt I was a bad mom who would never redeem the lost moments?

These thoughts are the reason I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret.

Because they wouldn’t understand…

Because motherhood comes naturally for moms…

Because ‘you should be grateful you have a healthy baby’…

Because, why can’t you snap out of it…

Simply put, because of the stigma that comes when moms admit they are struggling with depression after a safe delivery. PPD Island was birthed out of the need to stamp out this stigma and create awareness on PPD, one post at a time. So that moms are not ashamed to admit they are struggling with motherhood. So that moms can ask for help without going on a guilt trip. So that our society is aware that Postpartum Depression is real.

Featured Image: Patricia Esteve

Antenatal depression and what you need to know

I was talking to a friend recently, and they mentioned something that gave me the idea to pen this post. She asked, paraphrased,

“Looking back, were you able to tell anything was amiss [when you were pregnant]?”

My thoughts ran back to 2011. All of 2011, for the most part, was a blur – Pregnant, single and very confused. Looking back, now I see the red flags I missed. The constant tearing  (I remember walking downtown and just crying, not the pretty crying – I am talking bloodshot eyes, mucus and lots of tissue-), the sleepless nights I would lay awake wondering what this baby was going to eat (this baby who is now all of 5 years going 15), the drastic mood shifts and everything in between.

Little did I know that these were the early warning signs I was at risk of depression. Then I lost my job in the third trimester and everything just seemingly reeled out of control in my world. The thoughts of been unable to cater for baby’s needs were the catalyst for the Postpartum depression I suffered after his birth. In retrospect, there were all the signs that not everything was fine, but I remember thinking, ‘ah, it shall pass. Maybe it’s the hormones…’

Read More: 8 things to know when you visit a new mom

Today, I would love to share on antenatal depression. Why? Because it is often the precursor to Postpartum depression (PPD). Antenatal depression, just as the name suggests, is depression that occurs during pregnancy. While this is not perhaps as well known as PPD, it still is prevalent. According to PANDAS UK, around 1 in 10 moms will be depressed during their pregnancy. This is a sobering fact because 1 in 7 moms are at risk of PPD.

The causes of antenatal depression are broadly categorized into three: social, emotional and physical causes. Socially, some of the causes include lack of a support framework during pregnancy, an absent partner and generally, the stigma associated with depression. Given that the older generation typically may not have been aware of the different mental illnesses, it is easy to see why all these factors predispose a mom to antenatal depression.

Emotionally, the thought of bringing new life is often overwhelming, whether it is the first child or the fourth one. Add to this the fact that moms who voice their concerns are often told that the drastic mood swings are as a result of hormonal changes (what I thought at the time), and there’s not much that can be done about it.

Read More: Struggling with PPD? Here’s what you may want to avoid

The physical changes that come with pregnancy may predispose some moms to antenatal depression. The drastic changes include engorged breasts, extreme fatigue especially in the last trimester, swollen legs, bladder distress and heartburn among others, place a lot of stress on the body. Getting through the day sometimes get so so exhausting. It is little surprise therefore, that some women fall into antenatal depression.

With these in mind, it is important to look out for the symptoms of antenatal depression. These symptoms are eerily similar to those of PPD. The only difference is the onset that marks each of the perinatal mood disorders.

Symptoms of antenatal depression

  • Guilty feelings
  • Endless bouts of crying (as was my case)
  • Withdrawing from social circles, that is a mom-to-be is no longer interested in been around the people who mean the world to her. This is often accompanied by loss of interest in activities/hobbies they previously enjoyed.
  • A crippling fear of what the future holds, whether one will be able to care for the baby well.
  • Low energy levels
  • Appetite changes (one is either eating too much or too little)
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Fearing to speak out and ask for help
  • Recurrent sleepless nights for some moms

Left unchecked, antenatal depression affects the mom after birth and they go on to suffer from PPD. Therapy is a common method of treatment for moms with antenatal depression. If you have any concerns as a mom-to-be, remember there is no shame in reaching out for help. You are better off wrong (meaning you do not have antenatal depression) than fail to ask for help and suffer under the haze of this form of depression.