How Long Does This Postpartum Depression Last?!

Updated on March 23, 2008
N.P. asks from Avon Lake, OH
34 answers

My son just turned one this week, and I feel just as awful as when he was 3 months old. How long is this "depression" supposed to last? I've been on Zoloft for about 9 months increasing the amount to 100mg, because I felt it was not working properly. Zoloft was the drug of choice because I am breastfeeding. It's not that I don't want to be around my son,care for him, etc. It's the mood swings! I feel like I'm 13 again starting puberty all over again! I can't take it!(and neither can my husband I'm sure...poor guy) I can definitely tell when I haven't taken my "happy pill" on time or that day. It's not the side effect of withdrawl that tells me, it is the tidal wave of hormones, emotions, irritabilty, you name it. So how long should I expect this to last? Has anyone else gone thru this? Any advice you can give on how to survive and stay sane? Anything work or did not work for you? I'm open to any feedback. Thanks a bunch! N.

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A.H.

answers from Columbus on

N.-I don't know how much feedback you've received, but I think that counseling is an excellent option in addition to the medicine. If you are going through therapy, these are excellent questions to ask. It may be that there are other things at play, and it isn't simply post-partum depression, but something more.

Best of luck!

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S.F.

answers from Fort Wayne on

Post Partum Depression can last up to 5 years. If it continues past that, it may develop into generalized depression.

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

Not that I would suggest you stop breastfeeding, but myself, my sister and other family members had that tidal wave of emotions stop after we stopped breastfeeding. I felt so bad for stopping even though he was weaning himself, and felt so guilty (on top of the MAJOR mood swings I was having) and about two to three weeks later I felt so energized and happy and really felt better than I did before I had gotten pregnant. My body couldn't handle the extra hormones and such in the body. But it was well worth it to me in the end...and I will still breastfeed if I have another child. It was so much a reliefe on my body though.

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K.W.

answers from Mansfield on

Hi N.! I'm K., 33 mom of 2 boys, and I have been where you are. I had depression during pregnancy with my first son (he is almost 8 now), then I had post-partum with my second son (almost 4). I have been off and on a few different anti-depressants over the years, and finally found the right combination for me. Talk with your doctor about it- let him/her know that you are still not feeling like yourself. I KNOW how difficult and maddening it can be to deal with this on a daily basis. I always felt like I had no control over my own feelings. I was lucky , and found doctors who were really compassionate to my plight. My suggestion is not to give up on your current treatment just yet. But definitely be consistent with it, or you may not get the full effect. If at any time you want to chat about this, please don't hesitate to email me. I have given a few talks on this subject over the years, and certainly know exactly how you feel. I am not a trained health professional, but I think that by overcoming the illness qualifies me to talk about it!!! Good luck!

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B.A.

answers from Toledo on

Dear N.,

My daughter is about to turn 3 next month and I feel that i'm still going through post-pardem or some sort of hormonal disfunction! I don't mean to worry you, but I reached out for help from other mothers hear also and have been taking effexor prescribed by my doctor for about the past 3-4 months and has seemed to work for me, i don't know if you can take it while breastfeeding but i have definetly noticed a change in my mood swings and attitude. I'm not sure how long it will last either but hang in there!

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J.P.

answers from Mansfield on

N.,

I really struggled with postpartum issues after my son was born. Part of the problem, I feel, was the drastic change in my lifestyle. I worked a very busy, high stress job, then all of a sudden, a full time mommy (busy, but in a very different way). I hadn't realized how much my job defined who I was and was such a major source of where I drew my self-esteem (if that makes sense). I knew I was good at my job, but as a first time mom, I didn't feel so successful. Fortunately, my major postpartum blues only lasted about 3 weeks. However, I have never felt like I have fully recovered. My son is 3 1/2 now, and I still struggle with excessive worry, sleeplessness, occasional feelings of hopelessness, etc. What has helped me the most, is the support of other moms. I found a women's interdenominational bible study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). They have chapters in most cities. I think fellowship with women my age, prayer, reading, has helped me more than anything else. I also think this time of year is hard (cold, cabin fever, etc.) Have you tried to exercise, work out, walk, etc.? I think that helps me a lot when I have a particularly low swing. Hang in there! Plan some fun outings with your little one! Plan a family trip for this summer!

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A.C.

answers from Columbus on

Dear N.! Hang in there. I have two girls one 4 and one 18 months. I had postpartum with both and feel the same way you do. I didn't take care of my depression after my second (shame on me) but I am now and I have found that cymbalta and a nerve med works best for me. Also having a supportive family and working out. Take time for yourself and know that you are normal!!! Being a mom is the hardest, most stressfull job in my opinion. I love my girls with all my heart but there's days I want to go to bed and not be bothered. Hang in there and if need be go talk to someone, something I'm thinking of doing. I wish you the best!

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S.B.

answers from Columbus on

I too was a stay at home mom with 2 children. I suffered from ppd. After my second child was 5 years old I had had enough. I went out and got a parttime job in the evening so that dad had to stay at home and tend to his children. It has been the best thing I ever did. (I stayed at home for 10 years.) I currently hold a supervisor title and am working fulltime at night. My husband and I have been together for 25 years and been married for 17 years. If you don't want to get a job, try finding other mom's for play groups. Maybe have them split from week to week where 1 time at your house and then another at someone else's house. Just having another adult to talk to other than family helped also. Also if the depression medicine you are currently taking is not helping ask the doctor for a different kind. Some medicines work good for one but not the other. I went through 3 different ones before I found the best one. Hope this helps. SB

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T.B.

answers from Indianapolis on

N. =
I have a 14year old son and am a wonderful mother however when i had my son i was so depressed and felt the same way you did for several months, not that he wasn't the love of my life however it is just something that happens and you need to get it fixed. If Zoloft isn't taking the edge off then you might go back to your gyno and ask for something else. You said you have been breastfeeding so if you have to stop then at least your child has gotten all the nourishment he needs. You need to be able to take care of yourself in order to take care of your son and be happy in order to make your family happy. My opinion is Welbutrin or Serifem. Serifem seemed to help me alot!!!

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J.B.

answers from Evansville on

Have you had your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone level checked? I was feeling depressed for nearly a year -not severe, but still not normal- When the Dr. checked my levels they were way high -hypothyroid- which causes among other symptoms I was experiencing and not connecting, depression. After a few weeks on synthroid I started feeling much more alert and back to my old self again -still exhausted from chasing my son, but at least I felt like chasing him! Don't know if that will help, but it's something to check- pregnancy can trigger hypothyroidism I found out after the fact. --good luck!

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H.G.

answers from Columbus on

i guess since you have meds prescribed you have seen a psychologist? or a psychiatrist? if your family doc has been the one prescribing, i highly suggest you see a mental health professional b/c it seems you should have your meds switched or the dosage increased & have it combined with therapy/ counseling (yes, even if it means ceasing breastfeeding...your mental health is more important, especially after so long. & this is coming from someone who breastfed for a year!). prior to being a SAHM, i was a social worker in a clinical setting & i also experienced depression while pregnant. i decided not to take meds & instead went to therapy. depression is very real & it can get worse if not treated properly. it is best to have meds in addition to therapy.
call your insurance provider & they can provide you with a list of counselors in the area that they cover... i hope this helps!

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A.H.

answers from Cleveland on

hello!
i feel as if i am on and off feeling depressed. well now im pregnant so i think thats why im now, but...
i never took anything for it. i wrote in my note book almost everyday. it helped me get crazy feelings out without yelling at my soon to be husban. if at any time you want someone to just talk to, e-mail me! [email protected]____.com
when i started to work i felt better. i am one that needs to get out and do my own thing, so that helped to. what is it that you feel upset about? is it your body? it is for me! maybe once in awhile get pampered, whether it be from your husban or a pro. well i hope i helped some! good luck

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C.B.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi, So sorry you are going through that. I am as well and I am on 200 mg of Zoloft. I see a psych and therapist. Can't really say how long it will take, maybe up to a year, maybe longer maybe shorter but you will get better. I have only been on Zoloft since Jan. I do believe I had ppd with my other two children and just didn't know what the heck was going on with myself.If you need someone to just talk to you can email me at [email protected]____.com or even add me to msn messenger if you have it. You are not a bad mother or person. Good luck, you will get through it with professional help and family!

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J.G.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi N.!
I had Postpartum depression after both of my kids (4 and 1yrs old). I was on Lexapro for one and Zoloft (150mg) for the other. I still take the Zoloft! Maybe ask your doctor to switch you to another medicine. Sometimes a change can make a big difference. As far as how long it lasts..I feel I still need it to this day, but mine seems to work pretty good. I know without it I would be suffering similar symptoms to yours. Hope it helps to know you are not alone....

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R.M.

answers from South Bend on

Have you discussed this with your doctor? There is a saliva test they can do to see if your hormones are unbalanced. Which can cause all sorts of havoc, especially after having a child. and continue into the change unless you get it checked out now. I know I had the same problem after my first child, he's now 30, but luckily I had a family physician that I had been going to since I was a year old and he realized what was wrong and had me take the test to check it (FYI, he was a medical professor at the local medical college and taught on women's diseases, otherwise would probably still be trying to figure it out)we found that there was an inbalance that was easily corrected. and after having my daughter, now 28 it was easier to catch it alot earlier. Let me tell you my husband and family where a lot happier for it! No more nasty lady!

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C.B.

answers from Columbus on

N. look under herbs for ppd while breast feeding. a suggestion is primrose oil 3 capsules a day, i wouldn't use the st johns worts as they suggest because of the valarium root(valium). i had ppd after my 1st child but like you i suffered thru it, just going through the motions but most of the time felt like i wasn't really there and crying and feeling guilty like i wasn't a good mom. i think half of the battle is learning to relax and taking lots of deep breaths. Exercise helped me more than anything. it was tuff to get going but once i did i was ok. ask your mom to sit for an hour 2 or 3 times a week and find an inexpensive aerobic class in you neighborhood or go window shopping even the walking will help. C.

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H.M.

answers from Bloomington on

Ask your dr about trying Wellbutrin or a combo of zoloft and wellbutrin. It is now considered safe for breastfeeding. Hang in there Mama1 I have been where you're at and it's really tough. But know you are not alone and it can and will get better. Zoloft alone is obviously not working for you so don't be afraid to ask for something else. also counseling is really important!

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A.T.

answers from Indianapolis on

I'm wondering if you need to discontinue breast fdg and get on some other medication that may work better for you.
Also, 30 minutes of exercise each day is very helpful- do you ever get time away from the baby?? How about some mommy perks such as manicure, pedicure, massage or lunch with girlfriends??

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H.I.

answers from Cleveland on

In your situation this does not have to last. What do you like to do? You can try doing things that you like to do. You should take time away every week to have some time to your self. I will tell you what helped for me. I went to consuling and then they asked me what I liked to do. Then I started doing what I enjoyed doing.One of the things I like to do is write and read bible scriptures out loud. I began to do that and it really helped. I am alot happier. I am not on any medicine now. I have not been for a while. I have a 3 year old son. You can meditate on these scriptures I can do all things through Christ which strenghtens me. With God all things are possible. The joy of the Lord is my strength.
Let us pray... Jesus I pray Lord for N. that you would surround her with your Love. I pray that you would build her up in your word. I pray that if she does not know you as her savior that she will call upon you and recieve you into her heart as her Lord. I release your healing anointing power over her and I say depression you have to go in Jesus name. You are not permitted in her body. Satan leave her in Jesus name. I plead the blood of Jesus over her. I pray that when she is tempted or tested that she will not give up or give into the enemys attacks. I Pray that when she feels like she can not make it that you would pick her up and place her on solid ground. I pray that she will come to you and find help in time of need. I pray that you would protect her and place your angels around her always. In Jesus name I pray amen... Be blessed.

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R.K.

answers from Cleveland on

N.--

Unfortunately, how long post-partum depression can last indefinitely--or be only short term.

My question would be, has a Dr checked your thyroid level since your pregnancy? I had this problem occur a few months after pregnancy--it felt like the depression--mood swings, irritability, hyper/then dead. Found out my thyroid was failing after the stress of pregnancy and breast feeding.

You might want to check with your family MD.

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M.P.

answers from Indianapolis on

Depression of any kind can last a few months to a few years. You need to actively try to get better. Get involved with other Moms in a "mothers day out" program. Get a sitter at least a few hours each week so you can go work out, shop, do volunteer work.
Every day think of all the good things in your life first thing in the morning. Set up a routine of eating well, exercising, reading to your son, and make sure you get enough sleep. Caffeine, alcohol and sugar can all cause mood swings.
If you can't get better on your own, seek counseling.
A night out with your husband every couple of weeks could help also!
Take this advice from someone whose been through it!

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H.A.

answers from Cleveland on

I honestly never felt so down as to needing medication. But I can attest to most moms I have encountered on & offline as to wanting something to relieve stressful days and having just the most down days as well... It happens its life and well dont feel bad if you "need" something , just as long as its healthy for you and helps not hinders your in good hands and things are in a controlled enviroment+++ Keep your head up and keep yourself busy but take a break for YOU each day REMEMBER THAT!
Keep in touch ,
H. IN OHIO

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N.L.

answers from Columbus on

I went through a similar thing and it ended quickly when I stopped breastfeeding. I think breastfeeding was worth it, but I don't think my hormones were able to balance themselves while doing it. I felt like I was in a permanent state of PMS the whole time I was breastfeeding - uncontrollable appetite, mood swings, you name it. Breastfeeding can definitely affect your hormones if you are sensitive to this imbalance.

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J.V.

answers from Cleveland on

i too was a nanny before having children and felt as though I was "better" at that. we had difficulty conceiving and then i had very bad postpartum depression. To me, it sounds as if zoloft may not be the best drug for you...i would suggest trying something else. Lexapro worked very well for me and MANY of my friends dealing with PPD...i also saw one of the top nationally recognized expert psychiatrists specializing in PPD and she said you need to take the medication as long as you are breastfeeding b/c the breastfeeding causes many of the same hormone issues that pregnancy/ giving birth causes...
i took lexapro while breastfeeding both of my girls (one of which i am still nursing- 16 months old)...
that is my suggestion...you shouldn't be moody on the drugs...unless you are weaning off of them which can cause moodiness...
good luck to you!!!!! And GOD BLESS YOU!

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J.F.

answers from Toledo on

N.,
Although I have never suffered from PPD (a big surprise to me), I have suffered from depression, anxiety as well as ADD for many years. I really feel that you need to talk to your doc about possibly changing your meds. I have had to change mine on several occasions for the simple fact that they just don't work for me anymore. Hang in there, it truely can take years for you to finally find something that works for you. If you are not already doing so, I would strongly reccommend that you see a psychologist. I know the word sounds scary, but they really do know better than anyone (other than yourself) what could possibly work for you. If you would like to talk personally, I am here. My email is [email protected]____.com't hesitate to contact me.
Good luck
J.

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N.S.

answers from Columbus on

It's difficult to say how long it will last. I would rule out non-pregnancy causes like the thyroid and get a thyroid test. My mood swings stopped about a month after my son was weaned and I felt like myself again for the most part. One of my friends suffered for a year and a half after weaning her son before her hormones balanced out. I know it's tough with a one year old son. Try to eat really healthy and if your son takes naps, try to get some exercise in. If you have a treadmill or a stationary bike, get your heart rate up (check with your doctor first on this though). When your body is working out and your heart rate is up, your body releases endorphins (happy hormones) that would help you with your mood swings.

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T.M.

answers from Cleveland on

Hello N.,
I know what you are feeling.
I too have suffered from postpartum depression after my first child and it lasted for two years. I know how hard it can be to deal with. I now have two children my daughter is 4 and my son is now 16 months and I started taking medicine while I was in the hospital to help prevent the postpartum depression the second time around but it still came. I'm on Zoloft 100 mg and Welbutrin XL 150 mg and still don't feel like myself. I'm thinking of calling my doctor to ask for something different but I'm afraid things might get worse if I switch because you never know what is going to work. I also tried Prozac for a while and it did nothing for me and I did get worse.
I even tried talking to someone for a while since my husbands work offered me so many weeks free. It helped some.
I've started Weight Watchers and exercise which everyone says would help me feel better but I've been doing it for a month now and don't feel any better after exercising. But I have lost 11 pounds:).
Keep talking with your doctor until you find what works best for you.
I really think others don't understand what we are going through until they have gone through it themselves.
If you ever need to talk, please feel free to give me a message back and we can exchange e-mails etc...
I hope things get better for you!!!!!
T.

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K.R.

answers from Columbus on

Hi N.--

I'm not sure where you live, but I belong to a PPD support group in Columbus, Ohio. We meet every last Monday of the month and every 2nd Saturday. This has been a HUGE help for me to be able to talk to other women who can understand firsthand the awful emotions that PPD brings on. It also helps to deal with the loneliness which was so hard for me. The Website is www.poemonline.org and they do have support groups in several cities in Ohio. They also have a support line that you can call anytime. Take care!

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A.O.

answers from Indianapolis on

I had post pardom depression with my daughter. I tool lexapro for awhile and it helped. I started feeling better so I talked to my doctor and I quit taking it. She is almost 3 and I have decided that it probably wasn't gone, but I could deal with no meds. Since she turned 2 I feel like I feel better almost every day. I think that you shouldn't expect anything until he is around 2. I have talked to other people and they say that after their kids turned 2 they felt like they got their bodies back. I wouldn't stop taking the meds, but maybe the meds you are taking aren't the right ones for you. You might talk to your doctor about it. My doctor said that you take the meds for 6 months and then you can see how you feel. Definately don't feel bad for being on them. I waited to long to get on them and couldn't believe the difference when I got on them. You are definately more available for your son and I think it will just be finding the right one. He is almost to the age where you can start milk, so this might be the time to find a med that works for you.
Good luck,

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O.C.

answers from Elkhart on

N. - I went down a similar road with postpartum depression - I often referred to myself as the "poster child" for it. If the Zoloft isn't working for you - get to your doctor and try something else. I suffered with it and never went to the doctor hoping it would magically go away when my daughter reached a certain age - when she turned eight I started to suffer from panic attacks - I think it was just postpartum never having been addressed. Don't wait - Life is so much better and your whole family (mainly yourself) will experience a better life - if you find what works for you. I take Lexapro and it works for me. Don't wait - talk to your doctor. I know what you are going through - don't put it off - I was terribly afraid to have any more children for fear I would have to go through all of that again. Breastfeeding is great - but don't forget about what you need to be a good mom.

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S.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

Good for you for still breast feeding! However, the hormonal stuff that goes along with bfing can be a culprit. It's something to talk over with your doc. At the same time, weaning can bring on a whole new set of depressions (why am I doing this to him? I'm not ready to let go...etc...) so you do have to keep that in mind as well.

One pretty cheap trial-fix is to go get a full-spectrum light and use it at least 30 minutes a day. The lack of sun right now could be adding to any hormonal trouble you are having.

Good Luck:)

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T.M.

answers from Cleveland on

I hope you are also receiving counseling. If you're not, counseling is important to assist you in monitoring your progress and the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical treatment. Plus, medication alone is not always sufficient to treat depression, especially if you have been experiencing this for a long time (more than a couple of months). (I have experience as a family therapist, so I am familiar with the treatment of depression). Counseling is also beneficial becuase it offers added support. Parenting is tough! We shouldn't be expected to do it alone. If you have strong mood swings, another medication might be more effective.
As far as other advice, when do you notice your mood swings and depression? What are the triggers? Sometimes, addressing the triggers, or even just recognizing them can help. For me, I remind myself of what kind of mother i want to be and how my behaviors can effect my child. It helps keep me focused when I find myself getting moody or frustrated. Another technique to try: change your thoughts. Sometimes I get stressed out when I'm trying to get everything ready, and I'm late for work, and I have to remind myself to change my thoughts from "G-d d****, I don't have time for this" to "it's ok. I'm a little stressed out, but it's only a few minutes. I can still enjoy my time with my child" (as I change her clothes again becuase she squirted lotion on her and i have to find her missing shoe b/c she can't keep any of her shoes together!)
Hope some of this stuff helps!

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D.G.

answers from Columbus on

N.,
I understand what you are going through as I spent 2 years after my both of my children dealing with what I thought was depression and everyday stress from being a mom (at least, that's what I was told by my OB-GYN). Let me share my story, not that this is about me, but in hopes that you may find hope and healing in my words. After my 2nd child, I felt as though my world was ending, physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. I, too, was seeking something that would make a difference for my body and future health and in October 2005, I learned about "cellular nutrition" and most importantly, GOD's mercy and grace! I surrendered all that I am and all that I have to the Lord and he restored my health! How, do you ask? Cellular nutrition. What is it? Cellular nutrition provides every cell in your body with the proper amounts of nutrients it needs to perform at it's optimal level and protect your cells from free radical damage. Free radical damage results in the breaking down (or degeneration) which leads to such diseases as depression, diabetes, cancer, heart disease...etc. So, I encourage you to get a book called "The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements" 4th Edition, by Lyle MacWilliam...available on Amazon.com to find the highest quality nutritional supplement that will make a difference for your body as well! It's a great read with lots of information that will help you understand what's going on in your body.
If you would like to talk more about how you are feeling...feel free to email me at [email protected]____.com are loved,
D.

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B.H.

answers from Cleveland on

N. maybe you need more than the medication. Have you talked with a therapist who is familar with postpartum depression specifically? There are a few in the area that specialize in PPD. A mother's support group might also help. Also exercise is known to be extreamly benificial. Can you make time to get out and run or go to the gym? Maybe throw baby in a backpack and do some trail hiking in the metro parks.

If you are interested there is a Cleveland/Akron area mom's forum where you can meet local moms, many who have also delt with PPD. The site is:
http://www.apcleveland.com/forum/

Hope you find some relief.

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