The birth of a baby can onset a variety of immense emotions, some that you expected like excitement, love, and joy, and others that you didn’t like anxiety, worry, and stress. The postpartum period is often a roller coaster of emotions, with some more positive than others - and that’s completely normal!
Over half of new moms experience what’s known as “baby blues” within the first week of giving birth, which typically includes anxiety, worry, crying bouts, and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms associated with baby blues usually begin within the first few days after delivery and subside within two weeks. While this experience can be trying, it’s short-lived and an expected part of the hormonal journey we go through in the postpartum period.
But some new moms, 1 in 8 according to the CDC, will experience postpartum depression. This is a longer-lasting, more severe form of depression that’s onset by the birth of a child. The key thing to keep in mind is that this type of depression is very common. It is in no way an indicator of who you are as a mom or your ability to love and care for your child - it is simply a common complication of birthing a baby. If you’re experiencing postpartum depression, catching the signs early and seeking the treatment you need will ensure you’re able to manage your symptoms and care for yourself and your child.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression can vary from woman to woman and can range from mild to severe. How often symptoms occur and how long they last will be different for every new mom. Initially, the symptoms of postpartum depression may be mistaken for the baby blues, however, when the symptoms are more intense, last longer, and begin to interfere with your ability to care for yourself and your child, it’s an indication that it’s a more serious situation.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can include the following:
● A feeling of sadness, emptiness, and anxiety that lasts
● Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
● Feelings of helplessness, guilt, shame, or worthlessness
● Feelings of irritability and anger
● Crying more often than usual and for seemingly no reason
● Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed
● Loss of physical energy
● Difficulty concentrating, recalling details, and decision making
● Changes in eating habits (over or under-eating)
● Withdrawing from your loved ones, including your baby
● Fear that you will hurt your baby
● Feelings of anxiety about your ability to care for your baby
● Fear of being alone
Any new mom can experience postpartum depression, and it can hit first-time moms and veteran moms alike. That said, there are certain risk factors that might increase your chances of experiencing this type of depression, including:
● Having a history of depression during pregnancy or at other times in your life
● Having bipolar disorder
● Prior experience with postpartum depression
● Family history of depression or other mood disorders
● Stressful events such as pregnancy complications, illness, job loss, financial struggles, or relationship issues
● Giving birth to a child who has special needs or health problems
● A pregnancy that was unplanned or unwanted
● Birthing multiples, like twins or triplets
● Being a teen mom
● Lack of social support
When and Where to Get The Support You Need
Experiencing postpartum depression can feel embarrassing and shameful, which leads many new moms to suffer in silence for fear of judgment. But if you’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, it’s vital that you seek the help you need so that you can deal with your symptoms and care for yourself and your baby.
Seek help if your symptoms:
● Persist for more than two weeks
● Are worsening.
● Are making it more difficult to care for your newborn and to complete everyday tasks
● Include thoughts of injuring yourself or your baby
Recognizing your symptoms is always the first step. Once you’ve identified them and have decided to pursue treatment, you can take comfort in knowing that your depression is manageable with the right help and that most people do get better with treatment.
You can talk to your doctor about your feelings and ask for assistance with finding a mental health professional who can help you cope with your symptoms. You can also now seek professional treatment from licensed mental health professionals online, from the comfort of your own home. Cerebral is an online healthcare platform that provides ongoing mental health care for those suffering from depression, anxiety, and insomnia. For more information on how our service works, take a look at this Cerebral review for more details and to find out if it’s right for you.
The postpartum time period is a delicate time emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you’re struggling with depression and anxiety, you don’t have to suffer in silence. The help you need is just a few short steps away - you don’t need to do it all on your own.