What Does Taking Medication (for Mental Health) Feel Like?

What Does Taking Medication (for Mental Health) Feel Like?

There is a negative stigma around seeking care for your mental health. Many people assume that mental health disorders requiring medication should be manageable with diet or exercise, leaving those who need treatment feeling shame because they keep hearing their issues aren’t serious – or, worse, aren’t real at all.

Approximately 15-20% of moms experience a perinatal mood disorder and the leading cause of death in the postpartum period is suicide.  

I started taking Lexapro in December 2020 at my therapist’s recommendation. She referred me to a psychiatric nurse practitioner that specializes in pregnant and postpartum patients who answered all of my questions about taking medication while pregnant or breastfeeding. It put me at ease to know that even while taking medication, my baby would be safe.

I started with a 10mg dose and after about a month I felt noticeably better. If my baby cried for a long time, I didn’t get overwhelmed and shut down. If my baby’s sleep was interrupted (thanks to sleep regressions), I wouldn’t break down crying because I couldn’t handle it. I was able to start helping my husband with our household chores without that feeling like a monumental task.

All of my days had been bad days for months, and I didn’t even realize how bad I had been feeling – until I started to feel better. It was such a relief to not feel overwhelmed by anything and everything.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later I started to feel that irritability and anger come back. It was so strange because I felt really good, but I was snapping about dumb little stuff and yelling again, and I would often find myself questioning what I was even yelling about while it was happening. So when I went to my follow up in March 2021 with my doctor, she mentioned that it was pretty normal to have to adjust doses.

The way she described it made so much sense to me: If you’re in the desert without water, you’re so thirsty that when someone gives you water you immediately feel better – but, after a few minutes, you realize you’re still thirsty.

So we upped my dose to 20mg and waited to see how I felt. At my next checkup, my husband and I had been struggling through the 18 month sleep regression with our daughter. It was difficult to determine what was or wasn’t just the exhaustion talking, so we scheduled another follow up for June.

For the first time since our baby was born in 2019, I can feel joy in my life again. I feel more like myself, more like my normal – and that is important to me. The only way I was able to get to this point was through continuing talk therapy and by taking medication. I’m so glad I was able to reach out and get help because I’m pretty sure my marriage would have fallen apart if I hadn’t, or worse – maybe I would have considered or acted on the consideration of ending my own life.

If you think you might need help, even if you aren’t currently experiencing thoughts of suicide, please seek it.

What are the Baby Blues Anyway?

What are the Baby Blues Anyway?

With a new baby there’s a build-up of anticipation. You’ve been pregnant for nine months; maybe you tried to get pregnant for a long time, maybe you’ve dreamed of holding this baby in your arms for many years. You spend months dreaming of reading story books and rocking your baby to sleep. You painstakingly design the perfect nursery and pick out all those tiny cute clothes they’ll wear for the first few weeks. You spend hours debating names with your spouse and dreaming of life as new parents.

Now that baby is finally here, it isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. There are a lot of fluids coming out of both of you. The baby cries more than you thought. Breastfeeding is difficult and not at all the natural experience you were led to believe it would be. You’re tired – exhausted to the point of delirium. And even though you’re so happy and in love, you feel like you were hit by a bus and then someone sent you home with a baby!  

Many new moms expect to feel overjoyed at the arrival of their baby and find themselves unexpectedly sad in those first few days. It can be confusing and overwhelming. You may find your mind is foggy and you have difficulty concentrating. Leaving the house feels intimidating and you worry a lot more than you expected to. This is what is called the baby blues.

After a few weeks, you start to feel better, and you finally get into a good routine with your baby in your new life as a mama. About 80% of moms experience the baby blues, so know you are not alone.

Many people confuse the baby blues for postpartum depression, or refer to the baby blues as postpartum depression. It’s important to know the primary difference between baby blues and postpartum depression is that one goes away without treatment, and the other does not.

While everyone goes through periods of sadness every once and a while – especially after a big life change – if you experience these feelings for a prolonged period of time, it’s a sign that you should consult your doctor.  

It’s important to know that just because you have the baby blues, it doesn’t mean you will have postpartum depression. It’s also important to know that even if you have the baby blues, postpartum depression may not occur until months later (or even up to a year after your baby is born).  

If you feel like you have been experiencing these feelings for a prolonged period of time, or they’ve started to pop up again for you recently, check out postpartum.net for help finding providers in your area who specialize in postpartum mood disorders.