To Mormon Moms Dealing with Depression or Anxiety
by RI Editors
This guest post was submitted by Beca Mark to educate and support women with postpartum depression, as a part of our ongoing Peculiar Minds series.
When I first became a mother, I finally understood why my mom had fourteen children. I felt immeasurable love and joy like never before. However, within a few months of giving birth, my amplified highs faded and paralyzing lows materialized. Even the smallest setbacks sent me spiraling into a profound dark, hopeless, and anxiety-ridden place.
During this time, I imagined I was isolated and alone in my experience. I questioned whether anything or anyone could help me.
You’re Not Alone
A recent postpartum depression study found that one in five mothers experienced depression during the year after giving birth. Many of these mothers simultaneously suffered from a postpartum anxiety disorder. This mental imbalance was attributed to drastic hormonal changes before, during, and after pregnancy.
Many more than merely one in five women may struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety because statistics such as this one are all self-reported. Many suffer in silence because of the still-prevalent cultural stigma associated with acknowledging and seeking help for any mental illness.
Mormon mothers are not excluded from these statistics. Regardless of their faithfulness to the Gospel, many, many Latter-day Saint women suffer from depression, anxiety, and other related issues. This seems to be a testament to what God told Eve when casting her out of the Garden of Eden.
“Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16 KJV).
From the very beginning, women have suffered distress connected with menstruation, conception, pregnancy, giving birth, and raising children.
The blessings of becoming and being a mother simply make any correlated turmoil more than worth it.
Generally, self-reliance is a good thing. We should not trouble another for something we can successfully do ourselves. However, on the flip side, it is human error to reject help when needed. Much can be gained from the story of the brass serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4–9). Many of the Israelites were bitten by fiery serpents and would die without help. All the Israelites had to do to be healed was look up at the brass serpent. Why did some not look?
As we know, this story symbolizes the role of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We all need Christ to be saved through His infinite atonement for our sins. Why do some of us not look? Why do some of us fall prey to the adversary’s deception that “looking” will do nothing for us, so it’s not worth our effort?
This story can also be applied to seeking help for postpartum depression and anxiety, or any mental illness for that matter. Why do we often wait until we reach a breaking point before seeking much-needed help from healthcare providers and mental health professionals? I let myself suffer for 15 months after beginning to feel depressed and anxious before asking my midwife for help. Imagine if I sought help the very first month I started feeling this way. I could have saved myself much needless suffering.
In an ideal world, there should be no hesitation or shame in seeking help. Seeking appropriate help is a sign of good self-care and should be commended.
LDS/Mormon Postpartum Support Group
When dealing with any issue, whether it is a major life event like divorce or a life-threatening disease like cancer, support groups have proven to be of great benefit to their members. Support groups potentially provide:
• Belonging when outside circumstances may leave one feeling isolated and judged.
• Understanding about what one may or may not experience through the journey.
• Empowerment when comparing practical advice and treatment options.
• Hope when interacting with others who successfully manage or have overcome similar struggles.
The potential benefits of a postpartum support group are no different. Recently, an LDS/Mormon Postpartum Support Group page (www.facebook.com/MormonPostpartum) was created on Facebook. This page provides an ever-increasing compilation of healthcare and mental health resources and to lighten the mood also features quotes and jokes about motherhood. It provides a more private forum in which anyone suffering a postpartum-related issue can find a safety net of support among common religious beliefs. Although support groups should never take the place of care from medical or mental health professionals, having a network of support from others who experience similar issues can be invaluable when coping.
“Be of Good Cheer”
After having two more children, one being stillborn, I have been able to manage depression and anxiety by remaining faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, staying in close contact with my doctor, and keeping a network of support around me of others who successfully manage similar issues.
If you suffer from any postpartum-related issue, you are not alone. If you suffer from any postpartum-related issue, help is readily available. I encourage you to seek help from competent healthcare providers and mental health professionals, and ensure you are surrounded by a positive support network.
 Wisner, K. L., Sit, D. K. Y., McShea, M. C., Rizzo, D. M., Zoretich, R. A., Hughes, C. L., … Hanusa, B. H. (2013). Onset timing, thoughts of self-harm, and diagnoses in postpartum women with screen-positive depression findings. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(5), 490-498. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1666651#RESULTS
Beca Mark was born in San Diego, California and currently lives in Orem, Utah. She is the oldest of fourteen children. She is married to Matthew Mark (yes, Matt’s dad laughed when naming his son) and they are parents to Brady, Wyatt (stillborn), and Scarlett. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in public administration.
Beca’s website is Pros of Prozac, in the near future Real Intent will review her book of the same name.