Do I Have Postpartum Depression?
Updated: Jun 9
A lot of emotions occur when you have a baby, from happiness to excitement, to nervousness, to… depression? Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most joyful and fulfilling times of your life, but have you been experiencing feelings of sadness and loneliness, instead? A lot of changes happen within a woman’s body and mind as she grows and gives birth to her child. These changes can, at times, begin to take a toll on the woman’s mental health leaving her feeling empty, sad, numb, and disconnected to her child in what she may have expected to be a happy time in her life.
If you are experiencing these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a severe, but treatable mood disorder that many pregnant or new mothers experience. Seeking the help of a mental health professional will help you and your baby to be as healthy and happy as possible.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that can occur within a woman during her pregnancy or shortly after she gives birth. Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable mental health issue that affects a woman’s mood, behavior, mental health, physical health, and overall quality of life. Mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression may feel disconnected from or as though they do not love their new baby.
Postpartum Depression or Baby Blues?
While postpartum depression is a common mood disorder experienced by new or expecting mothers, baby blues is a less severe, but very common occurrence in which a new mother will experience a low mood or feelings of sadness for the first few days after giving birth. The symptoms of the baby blues can include:
· Mood swings
· Feelings of anxiety or overwhelm
· Crying and feeling sad often
· Loss of appetite
· Sleeping issues
· Difficulty making decisions
The baby blues typically appear right after childbirth with the symptoms fading away on their own within a few days. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, will be more severe and typically lasts for a period of two weeks or longer.
The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Sometimes, the symptoms of postpartum depression and baby blues can seem very similar, at first. The difference, however, is that signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are more severe and last for a longer period of time. The symptoms of postpartum depression can begin to negatively impact your ability to perform day to day tasks, including taking care of your new baby. While the baby blues typically begin right after a new mother gives birth and usually fades within a few days, postpartum depression can begin to show during pregnancy all the way to a year after giving birth. The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:
· Low moods
· Severe mood swings
· Excessive crying
· Issues with bonding with your baby
· Anxiety and overwhelm
· Withdrawal from loved ones
· Changes in appetite (This can include undereating or excessive weight loss. On the other hand, it can include overeating and excessive weight gain.)
· Changes in sleeping habits (This can include sleeping too much, struggling to stay asleep, or struggling to fall asleep.)
· Feelings of lethargy or fatigue
· Loss of interest and motivation to do the things that used to bring you joy
· Thoughts and fears that you are not a good mother
· Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, or inadequacy
· Cloudy mind, confusion, lack of concentration, inability to concentrate, and struggles to make decisions
· Thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
· Thoughts of death or suicide
What is Postpartum Psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare, but severe condition new mothers may experience typically within the first week of delivery. Those who are suffering from postpartum psychosis need to seek professional help immediately because the condition can lead to thoughts and behaviors that are dangerous and life-threatening to both the mother and the new baby. Signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis include:
· Obsessive thoughts and behaviors about your baby
· Restlessness, distress, irritability, and excessive energy
· Thoughts or behaviors aimed at harming yourself or your baby
Postpartum psychosis can be a very dangerous and life-threatening condition to both the mother and the baby. If you believe that you are suffering from postpartum psychosis, seeking help immediately will help ensure your baby’s and your own safety and wellness.
What to Do if You Have Postpartum Depression
If you believe that you are suffering from postpartum depression, know that you are not alone. If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, reach out to your doctor so they can help you determine what is going on and develop a treatment plan to get you on the right path to healing. While receiving treatment from your doctor for your postpartum depression, there are a few lifestyle changes you can implement to begin feeling better as soon as possible.
Alongside treatment, taking care of your physical health through exercise, nutritious food, and adequate sleep is very important to your healing. While you may not be able to sleep like you used to with a new baby, sneaking in some shut eye whenever you get the chance will help you more than you would expect. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need help caring for your little one, a quick break, or some assistance in cleaning and cooking, let your loved ones know how they can help you.
Make time for yourself and your relationships: go out with friends, plan a date night with your significant other, or spend some time to yourself. Find someone or a few people that you trust and vent to them when needed. Join a support group. Meeting other people who are experiencing similar troubles to yours can help you to not feel so alone. Don’t expect too much from yourself. Understand that you are learning as you go. The house will get messy, you won’t have time to cook all gourmet meals, and your work may not be as overachieving as you are used to but knowing that you are doing your best is good enough.
Having a baby is wonderful, but it causes a lot of changes within a woman’s body that can affect both her mental and physical health. If you believe that you are suffering from postpartum depression, contact us today so that we can support you and get you on the right track to healing.