How To Deal With Post-Partum Depression At Work

If you are suffering from post-partum depression, here's how to handle heading back to work

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, one in five women in the workplace will experience depression in her lifetime, and about 15% of new mothers succumb to post partum depression. Often, moms who are well on the mend will have a relapse upon returning to work, or a “post-postpartum depression.” And sometimes, post partum depression symptoms won’t even surface until her return to work. 
Going back to work and juggling your new family, a new role as a mother, and a heavy health concern can add up to huge stress. You may be back at work, but when post partum casts a shadow over your life, your number one priority must be your health, no matter what.
Put it this way: your energy and ability to be present determines your ability to parent, to hold down your job, and be a real part of your relationships. It's your number one responsibility to take care of yourself so you can get better. Here's how to do so while you're also trying to hold it down at work:
Self care off-hours
During the hours you're not at work, plain and simple - the best thing you can do is take care of yourself. Here are 3 highly effective ways to take care off-hours:
Get therapy 
Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a common treatment for postpartum depression. This type of therapy teaches you how thoughts, feelings and behaviours work together. It also teaches skills like realistic thinking and stress management. Another type of counselling called interpersonal psychotherapy may also help with PPD. This type of therapy focuses on relationships and can help people adjust to changing roles in their relationships.
Join a support group
Postpartum depression/new motherhood can isolate you from others - even if you're around people at work - and that can add to feelings of depression. Support groups are a safe space to share and connect with other moms who get it, and can help with first-hand insight.
Sleep well, eat well, and move
A full 8-hours a night may seem like an impossible luxury when you’re a working new mom, but if you're not sleeping well, you can count on your recovery from PPD taking even longer. Do whatever works for you to get plenty of rest, whether it's taking melatonin nightly, to enlisting your partner to massage your back before bed, to catching the odd nap when you can.
What you eat also has an impact on your mood (as well as the quality of your breast milk, if you're breast feeding). Make healthy meals a priority. And move your bod, outside, if possible – to release endorphins and get blood circulating. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are the basic necessary components of building up a healthy body again.
Get medication
The combination of therapy and medication is the best route to wellness. Medication is the component that can have a “shock-absorber” effect. Through a rough time, anti-depressants can ease the shocks that come with low lows.
There are many different classes and types of antidepressants, and each work a little differently. While many moms can safely use antidepressants while breastfeeding, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits. Medication can help with some symptoms, including sleep, appetite, and energy levels. However, medication can’t get rid of some of the thoughts or beliefs that can fuel depression.
Be vocal about what you need
When it comes to telling people in the workplace about your PPD, many women worry that if they divulge too much, they'll seem unprofessional, and it might open the door to questions about how they can handle their job. This concern is completely understandable - but know that telling your boss you're experiencing symptoms of PPD doesn't necessarily have to mean you can't handle your job. Make sure you handle your conversations around the topic with intention. 
The reality is, postpartum depression can make your work incredibly tough. It's responsible to do whatever you can to try to create a functional working environment for yourself so you can give your job as much of your focus as possible when you're there. If you tell your boss what's up in your personal life, it will be in the best interest of your career. If you can, make some specific requests that will make things better. 
If a quieter workspace, time to see your doctor, different work hours, or time off from work, is what you need, then ask for it. Do what you can to make this period as comfortable as possible in the workplace.
Part of making your workplace as comfortable as possible is being equipped with the right tools. Don't leave home home without your post-partum survival toolkit - a round-up of supplies to have on hand that will make life - and work - a little easier. 

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