Postpartum Depression: You’re Not Alone
When your baby is born, that moment is life-changing. It is the grand finale of all the anticipation you’ve felt during pregnancy. Motherhood is a joyous celebration. There is a common belief that overwhelming happiness and maternal instincts magically appear the moment you hold your child. But what if it doesn’t?
The term “postpartum depression” carries a heavy weight and is not something we enjoy discussing. The important thing to remember is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Postpartum depression affects about 1 in 7 new parents. So, let’s dive deeper into the signs and symptoms.
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks.
Baby blues are feelings of sadness that you may have in the first few days after having a baby. Although the experience is unpleasant, the condition usually goes away within two weeks without treatment. The best thing you can do is find support and ask for help from friends, family, or your partner.
PPD often starts within 1 to 3 weeks of having a baby and needs treatment to get better. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may appear within a week of delivery or gradually, even up to a year later.
Remember, it doesn’t hurt to share your symptoms with your provider. They can assess if you need treatment for your symptoms.
Signs + Symptoms
You must look at the signs and symptoms if you’re still unsure whether your feelings are from experiencing baby blues or PPD. PPD signs and symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks – could develop into an anxiety disorder
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
While the signs and symptoms are the same in most clinical settings, it only tells part of the story for moms experiencing PPD. While many moms report feeling some of the same key emotions, postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders are different for every woman.
Where to Find Help
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It’s also important to note that it is not your fault, and there are ways to help.
Talk to your friends, family members and/or partner. Let the people closest to you know how you’re feeling and what they can do to help.
Also, reach out to a mental health professional – someone who is trained to help with postpartum depression. Your physician or OB-GYN should be able to recommend you to one. But you need to reach out first!
There are also various helplines you can contact for support and talk therapy. You can contact:
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline
- Free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service
- Phone: 1-800-662-4357
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Women’s Health Department
- Phone: 800-994-9662
- Mental Health America
- Phone: 800-969-NMHA
- National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
- Phone: 301-496-9576
- Postpartum Education for Parents
- Phone: 805-564-3888
- Postpartum Support International
- Phone: 800-944-4PPD, 800-944-4773
**If you’re thinking of hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services (911) immediately.
Linsey L. BSN, RN – Lead Nurse Educator