Is this Postpartum Depression?
A woman’s mind, body, and spirit change when she becomes pregnant. Statistics suggest that 15%-20% of women report symptoms of depression during or after pregnancy. Not to mention postpartum depression is often unreported. The number of women who suffer from postpartum depression is likely significantly higher.
Perinatal mood disorders effect women of every age, race, and culture.
The first three months following childbirth are often considered the period of highest risk for the onset of postpartum depression. Nonetheless, new moms may become increasingly aware of their symptoms as more time passes. It is not uncommon for women to enter into treatment several months after giving birth.
Below are some commonly asked questions by postpartum women.
What are the signs of Postpartum Depression?
There are many symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Some of these include:
- Difficulty sleeping (too much or too little sleep)
- Difficulty eating
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Feeling anxious
- Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
- Having disturbing thoughts
- Inability to think clearly or concentrate
- Difficulty connecting with your baby
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Worried you might harm your baby or yourself
It’s important to remember the symptoms associated with Postpartum Depression range from mild to severe. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, no matter the severity, please seek support.
Are there additional risk factors?
You may be at a higher risk for postpartum depression if:
- You have a history of depression or you have experienced a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder with another pregnancy.
- You have a history of painful or challenging life experiences or difficulty navigating life transitions.
- You have been diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- You have complicated or ambivalent feelings about motherhood.
I’m really struggling, but I don’t think it’s postpartum depression; what is it?
Although the psychological and emotional challenges during and after pregnancy are most often referred to as Postpartum Depression, many other forms of perinatal and postpartum distress exist. These include:
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- postpartum psychosis
For more information on these disorders please visit Postpartum Support International.
I think I have Postpartum Depression, what now?
Be gentle with yourself. Remember that this is a period of unique life stress, massive hormonal change, and completely uncharted territory. Although it can seem difficult, seek the help and support you need by contacting a licensed mental health professional with whom you feel safe and ideally specializes in postpartum depression.
There’s nothing in life that impacts you, your relationships, and your body more than having a baby. More often than not, a new mom is working hard to revert to the lifestyle she had before her baby while at the same time taking on the endless new demands of being a mother. If you’re struggling, trust yourself. Make space to get the support you need by talking with a professional counselor is an indicator of strength and determination, not weakness.