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Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
The birth of a child is a new chapter in the life of a family. Every parent goes through an adjustment period, for MOST people this adjustment is challenging. Having intense feelings are a normal response to the hormonal and circumstantial changes parents goes through postpartum. Many parents describe feeling emotional and as though they are in a fog for the first several weeks of caring for their newborn.
There are times when the adjustment goes beyond the normal "baby blues." When difficulties persist past one month postpartum or begin to intensify, this may indicate a more serious challenge in the Postpartum Adjustment. Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety can occur at anytime from conception though the first year postpartum. It is common for symptoms to begin 3 months postpartum, during the first menstrual cycle, or during weaning from breastfeeding (even if this is past the one year mark.)
1 in 7 mothers struggle with Postpartum Depression and/or Anxiety.
"You are not alone in this struggle, You are not to blame, and with help you will get better."
-Postpartum Support International
*Please note that symptoms of depression and anxiety can occur in biological mothers, dads, partners, and adoptive parents*
For some, it can be difficult to determine whether your symptoms are a result of a normal period of adjustment or indicate a more serious symptoms of a Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. If you have felt confused about the way you have been feeling, take a look below at the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. See if some of the signs match your experience. A good rule of thumb is Postpartum Adjustment tends to get better over time, while Postpartum Depression and Anxiety generally get worse, do not resolve on their own, and require treatment.
Please know that Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are treatable, with help you will feel better. Treatment may be very short term. Some Moms feel much better after a just a few counseling sessions, while other Moms cherish the time they get to have for themselves in counseling and continue for several months. I often refer the Moms I work with to local wellness professional in an effort to provide a holistic model of care. Be kind to yourself and do what is necessary to help you feel better. Motherhood can be enjoyable, once you have the right support.
Signs or Symptoms of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety
Change in Appetite (not eating or eating too much)
Trouble Sleeping when the Baby is Sleeping
Irritable and Angry (could be directed at your partner, family, your other children, friends, or baby)
Restlessness, worry, and nervousness ( constantly thinking something might be wrong with your baby, worrying they could get sick, extreme fear your baby could die, wondering "am I doing this right" or "am I a good mom,", worried about each choice you make for baby (toys, food, products,) worried you or your partner may get sick, hurt, or die.
Tearful and Emotional
Can't sit still despite being exhausted
Feeling Guilty for Not Enjoying Parenthood
Not Feeling Like Yourself, Feeling Disconnected
Constant research on the internet or in books (on any and every topic related to baby and parenting)
Constantly Thinking About the Birth (perhaps wishing things were different or replaying what happened)
Resentful of not being able to enjoying the activities you used to do before the baby
Experiencing Panic Attacks
Ambivalence About Your Baby (Not knowing if you feel connected to your baby)
Fear of Being Alone with the Baby
Protective of Baby
Fear of Leaving your Baby with a Trusted Caregiver
Feeling a Sense of Dread, like Something Terrible Will Happen
Obsession with Germs or Cleanliness (over washing of hands, rewashing bottles or toys)
Constant Scary Thoughts ( "waking nightmares." visualizing worst case scenario's, what if's, visions of harming the baby, horrified by ones own thoughts)
Feeling Bad About Yourself ("Every other mom is a better mom than I am" "Why is parenthood so easy for everyone else and so difficult for me?" "I'm not cut out to be a mom.")
Feeling Hopeless ("Things will never get better. I've ruined my life" )
Thoughts of Running Away or Disappearing ("I can't take it." "My family would be better off without me"
*Not all of these symptoms need to be present, if you relate to any of these symptoms please reach out for help! Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are serious and could potentially be life threatening. *
If you are in crisis please call 911.
You may also reach out to Postpartum Support International's 24 hour hotline at 1-800-944-4773 OR
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800- 273-8255
* In very rare circumstances a women may exhibit signs of a more serious condition, Postpartum Psychosis.
Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis may include; paranoid delusions (I'm being followed or watched, people are trying to steal my baby,) seeing, hearing , or smelling things that are not there, or disorganized thinking, extreme confusion (whose baby is this?) Women may experience these symptoms continuously or the symptoms may come and go. Unlike Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, Postpartum Psychosis has a sudden onset and generally occurs immediately following birth or within the first few weeks. If these symptoms are present, it is a medical emergency, one must seek medical treatment immediately.
Dads and Partners
Partners often need support in adjusting to parenthood too. Dads and Partners can also suffer from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. It is estimated that 1 in 10 partners do, particularly if there is a history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Dads or Partners are twice as likely to suffer from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety if their partner is also suffering. Parenthood inevitably brings additional financial pressures, a shift in relationship with their partners, sleep deprivation, and social isolation. It is common for Dads or Partners to struggle to feel bonded with their infants and may feel like an outsider in the new mother-infant bond. This can be a lonely time. Communication with your partner is key during this time of adjustments. Do not hesitate to reach out for professional help if you are having a difficult time.