Feelings of sadness or anxiety after giving birth might have you questioning whether you have postpartum depression. Both postpartum depression and baby blues can leave new parents feeling sad or anxious, but baby blues will go away within a few days or weeks with proper sleep and support.
With postpartum depression, feelings are more extreme, and they last longer, and symptoms might include insomnia, panic attacks, feelings of shame or guilt, intense anger, or an inability to think clearly. About 10% to 20% of women experience postpartum depression, and there are many types of treatment available. To get an idea of what the symptoms of postpartum depression might look like, consider asking yourself the following questions.
How are you feeling?
Feeling sad or anxious after the birth of your child isn’t necessarily cause for concern. Many women describe this time as one of the happiest of their lives, but many of these women will also experience baby blues and find that postpartum life is a bit of a roller coaster.
Severe mood swings, panic attacks, extremely negative feelings , and dark thoughts are symptoms of postpartum depression. Like other forms of depression, postpartum depression makes it hard to think clearly and can cause severe anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, excessive crying, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you’re having dark thoughts, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How are your energy levels?
Symptoms of postpartum depression aren’t always feelings or moods. If you’re feeling fatigued, lack energy, or have insomnia, those could all be signs of postpartum depression. In addition to insomnia, sleeping too much can also be a symptom. Sleep patterns are always disrupted with a newborn in the picture, but if you’re having a particularly hard time falling asleep or waking up, it could be due to something more than your newborn’s reluctance to let you sleep.
How’s your social life?
If you find that you’re withdrawing from family and friends or taking less pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Things like irritability, anger, or changes in appetite could also be affecting your social life and indicating postpartum depression. A change in appetite can mean you’ve lost interest in food, or it could mean that you find yourself eating more than usual.
How is your relationship with your baby?
While Baby has something of a built-in attachment to you after growing in your belly for nine months, bonding with your newborn is still a process. Having difficulty bonding with your baby or having strong fears that you’re not a good mother are potential symptoms of postpartum depression. Having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby are also strong indicators that you need to seek professional help.
If some or many of these symptoms sound familiar, it’s possible that you are experiencing postpartum depression. Know that you are not alone, and your healthcare provider will be able to work with you to determine what treatment options are best for you and your family. Statistics show that nearly half of all women with postpartum depression are undiagnosed, which means they don’t seek out treatment for their illness. It is completely understandable if you’re concerned about the cost of therapy, worried about finding a mental health provider that you trust, or stressed that you won’t be able to fit appointments into an already busy schedule. For now, don’t worry about those factors, and just focus on reaching out to your provider for support. You can’t take good care of Baby without taking care of yourself.
If you’re having dark or disturbing thoughts, call your healthcare provider, 9-1-1, or present to your local emergency room for immediate help.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Postpartum depression.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. August 11, 2015. Web.
- Katherine Stone. “Why Moms Can’t Get Help for Postpartum Depression & Anxiety.” PostpartumProgress. Postpartum Progress Inc., Aug 25 2015. Web.