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One Mother’s Perspective: Perinatal Depression

June 27, 2016 11:59 AM with Chris Beer

Experiencing changes in emotions is not unusual for soon-to-be mothers during pregnancy, but for some, the negative feelings and depression continue afterwards. Perinatal depression affects approximately 1 in 7 pregnant women, and many feel unable to relate to those around them and find support. Mother of two Chris Beer knew this exact situation, and found support through the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program. Now, she will be taking your questions and sharing her story about her experience with perinatal depression and overcoming the condition.


Colie (Moderator) - 12:00 PM:
Our perinatal chat with Chris Beer is now open. You can submit questions at any time during our chat.

  Allie (Buffalo Grove, IL) - 12:02 PM:
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to take steps to getting help? You’re so brave!
Chris Beer
Thank you! I knew that it was a problem that would continue to get worse, quickly, if I did not seek help. Even when I was feeling lower than low, I knew that it was possible to feel better again. I just needed to find the right path to feeling better. The Intensive Outpatient program at North Shore gave me access to excellent health care providers and taught me tools to handle stressors in everyday life.

  Mary (Chicago, IL) - 12:10 PM:
Can you provide some tips for talking to loved ones about the condition and getting support? I’m having such a hard time figuring out how to talk about it.
Chris Beer
Finding support can be a tricky thing, as many do not see anxiety or depression as "real" ailments, as they are diseases that cannot be measured by a test. No matter what an individual's view on medication or therapy, know that your family and friends love you and want you to feel your best. Seeking help for mental health issues, whether through medication, talk therapy or a combination of the two, is a way for you to feel better.

  Alice (Oak Brook, IL) - 12:14 PM:
Did you feel any kinds of symptoms during your pregnancy?
Chris Beer
Yes! I was very anxious and tearful during the pregnancy. I did not address it with my doctor, as I felt shame about being sad during what should be such a blessed time.

  Nicole (Wilmette, IL) - 12:19 PM:
Have you found that your symptoms have returned at all after getting help?
Chris Beer
Great question. I don't like to say that I have "overcome" depression, as I feel that it is a constant work-in-progress to maintain a work-life balance, have regular checkups with my doctor, and focus on self care (such as rest and exercise). Things were at their worst in Winter 2013, and Winter is always a sensitive time of the year for me. I am reminded about how sad and hopeless I felt, but I am also reminded about how far I have come, and feel thankful to the team (family, friends and health care providers) who helped me get there.

  Nancy (Evanston, IL) - 12:25 PM:
What helped you most in your recovery?
Chris Beer
What helped was to take the time to do the Intensive Outpatient Program at North Shore. For almost 2 months, I went to the hospital for 7 hours a day, and focusing on my health became my new "job." It was scary to hit "pause" on work and family responsibilities but the end result was worth it.

  sandie (highland park) - 12:29 PM:
what is the most important thing you would like a support person to know about ppd?
Chris Beer
Don't judge a book by its cover. I hid my depression well, and appeared to be really high-functioning. Ask questions about how things are going, and don't be afraid to push a little for more details.

  Donna (Chicago, IL) - 12:32 PM:
What kind of advice can you give for a new mom who isn’t sure if she’s dealing with something like perinatal depression?
Chris Beer
Hey, you're sleep deprived, you're dealing with a newborn (and maybe other kids)'s hard to tell if it's "normal" weepiness/anxiety/anger or something deeper. Be honest with your partner, your friends and your health care providers about how you are feeling. This can help create a "baseline" for your emotional state, and serve as an indicator of the need for additional help.

  Dan (Evanston, IL) - 12:36 PM:
As a husband and father, what can I do to help my wife when she’s going through a difficult time?
Chris Beer
I can only imagine how tough it would be to be strong and calm when you see your spouse in so much distress. It can also feel frustrating when she won't just "snap out of it". My husband was incredibly supportive and helped me make the call to the hospital's MOMS line, which helped us craft a plan for my treatment. He also did more than his fair share of the childcare responsibilities during that time, as the emotional nature of intense therapy left me exhausted. Most of all, let her know that you love her, support her and want her to feel better.

  Annie (Evanston, IL) - 12:42 PM:
When did you notice you were feeling different? Was it right after pregnancy?
Chris Beer
I was very weepy and anxious during my pregnancy. My feelings worsened after the birth of my second child, but I wasn't sure if my feelings were normal or something that needed treatment. After about 8 months, I found myself tearful during most days, and sleepless during most nights, and knew that I needed to seek help to feel better. I wanted to have a long, healthy life with my family.

  Linda (Highland Park, IL) - 12:47 PM:
Did you have any kind of physical symptoms once you noticed emotional changes?
Chris Beer
Decreased appetite/weight loss (which, I'm not going to lie, I thought was super!) and increased sensitivity to noise.

  Maria (Evanston, IL) - 12:51 PM:
Do you think being physically active helped you overcome your depression?
Chris Beer
Absolutely! I walked a TON the summer after I went through the Outpatient Program. I'd pile the kids into our double stroller and walk whenever I started to feel sadness or anxiety. Walking became a "moving meditation" and I still stop to focus on nature (blades of grass, leaves, water, etc) when my thoughts get overwhelming. Always stay active -- and know that you don't need money or a babysitter to put your kids in the stroller and take a brisk walk.

  Peg (Evanston, IL) - 12:55 PM:
What was it like getting help through a hotline? I’m not sure if I should make a call…
Chris Beer
How can it hurt you to call? It's free, it's confidential, and it could be a turning point in feeling better. It is scary to admit that you are not feeling well. For me, I felt a lot of shame... I had healthy kids, a loving husband, a great career, lots of "stuff" could someone like me feel sad? Depression doesn't discriminate. It can affect anyone. There is no shame in admitting that you need medication and/or talk therapy to feel better.

Colie (Moderator) - 1:01 PM:
This will be the end of our chat. Thank you for submitting your questions.

Colie (Moderator) - 1:02 PM:
For more information on perinatal depression, call the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program hotline, a confidential service that's available 24 hours a day to patients and their families for information, at 866.364.MOMS (6667).

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.