Research shows that women are more likely to experience psychological distress while pregnant or postpartum. Becoming a parent is a life changing event. USUALLY IF A MOM IS EXPERIENCING POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION, THEY DON’T KNOW IT AT THE TIME. as a mother, whether it is your first, second, or third child you are expected to feel joyous after you give birth. What’s not talked about is how much stress you will experience. You are experiencing hormonal shifts, professional and/or personal role changes, coping with the loss of the life you had pre-pregnancy, tension in relationships with family/friends, lack of sleep, and isolation. Having a child will change your life in many positive ways, but it is still a big life change that you need to adjust to and cope with. Having a solid support system during this time is very important. Seeking help from a professional counselor can help you identify what you are going through and help you cope with it so that you can be the best mom you can be.
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression:
After you have a baby, you will experience a lot of heightened emotions. A lot of these emotions are positive, but since your hormones are so heightened and out of whack it is possible that you will feel some negative emotions as well. Baby blues are very common where you may feel sadness, mood swings, anxiety, and difficult sleeping the days after giving birth. This is normal for a mother to feel and can last up to a few weeks. Postpartum depression will last much longer than a few weeks and will feel much more severe. Postpartum depression is a version of clinical depression that will greatly impact your life in a negative way. If it goes untreated, it will also last for months on end. Postpartum depression is very common for moms who recently gave birth so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms. If you notice them then you can seek treatment for it right away. Postpartum depression is looked at as a complication that may come along after giving birth. Just like you may get an infection or physical problem after giving birth. This is a mental health condition that could follow and if it goes untreated it may cause major problems in your life.
Since a lot of moms get baby blues symptoms, they may become nervous that they are experiencing postpartum depression. So I want to show the difference between the the two.
Signs and Symptoms of Baby Blues:
Change in appetite
Lack of sleep
Feeling on edge
Increased stress levels
Lack of concentration
These symptoms will usually last a few days after giving birth and up to about 2 weeks. You are able to still take care of your daily tasks even while experiencing these symptoms as they are not severe. You just may need some extra help at this time from your support system such as your partner, family, friends, and a professional therapist could help.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
Crying that feels uncontrollable and at times random
Sad most of the time
Severe mood swings
Having a hard time bonding with your baby
Feeling you aren’t a good mother
Lack of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Lack of energy or feeling tired all of the time
Withdrawing from others
Change in appetite
Lack of sleep or sleeping much more than usual
Feeling agitated or angry
Worthlessness or feeling you are not good enough
Feeling guilt or shame
Lack of concentration and easily forgetful
Feeling on edge or having a hard time sitting still
Feeling severe anxiety and/or experiencing panic attacks
Thoughts of harming yourself and/or your baby
Thoughts of death or suicide
You may not experience all of these symptoms, but if you do find yourself experiencing a handful of these symptoms and for months then you are probably depressed. You may actually start to experience these symptoms while pregnant before giving birth and it could last through the birth and for months after. It is most common to experience baby blues after birth and then these more severe symptoms develop and last for months after. Another possibility is that postpartum depression may start to develop and show farther out after giving birth such as a year later. A big indicator that you are experiencing postpartum depression is that it has a negative consequence on a big aspect of your life. Some examples are that you are not able to do your work at your job, you feel you cannot take care of your home or family like you usually would, or you distance yourself so much from others that you don’t feel like yourself anymore. This is why it’s important for all moms to know the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression so that they can notice it within themselves or others. The sooner you seek help then the sooner you can get treatment and feel better.
Treatment for postpartum depression:
I honestly think that all moms need a support system. Even if you are just experiencing baby blues for a few days, I still recommend seeking support. You can find a moms group in your community that you can connect with about anything and everything mom related. You can use your own family for support since they raised you and if you’re close to them then this is a great supportive option. You can talk to friends who are mothers as well. You also may find it helpful to find a professional counselor who specializes in seeing moms. It would be helpful to have that support system in place so that if you are feeling overwhelmed after giving birth then your therapist and/or support system will easily notice something is off and help you through. You can start to address the symptoms as they arise with your support system already in place.
If you do notice these postpartum depressive symptoms in yourself and you don’t have professional support then it is time to find some. You could ask your OB/GYN doctor, your child’s pediatrician, or your primary care doctor what they think about your symptoms and if you need a referral to a mental health counselor. Or you can contact us below by filling out the form which sends an email to our professionally trained psychotherapists who specialize in helping moms. Our psychotherapists will review your symptoms and help you figure out if you are experiencing postpartum depression. It is always a great idea to meet with a professional rather than just talking to friends/family/support groups about your struggles with motherhood since this would be someone who is trained to notice warning signs of a bigger issue such as postpartum depression. The therapist would then recommend a course of therapy treatment and/or make a referral to a psychiatrist for a further evaluation and to discuss possible medication that is needed to help the depressive symptoms. Not everyone is in need of medication and it is possible that therapy will be helpful enough to get you to feel back to your best self so that you can be the best mom you can be.
The earlier you detect postpartum depression symptoms, the sooner you can get the help that’s needed. Once you start treatment, you are already on track to feeling better and being able to better care for your family.
If you find yourself, or someone you care about, experiencing postpartum depression symptoms then I urge you to seek help. Sometimes it can feel daunting to find a professional therapist who can help with postpartum depression. But once you do find that help, it will really make a huge difference in your life. You need to treat postpartum depression just as you would a severe clinical depression diagnosis. The sooner you get help the better. And if you’re a mom who is struggling with the huge life change of becoming a mother, you can also reach out for help since every mother needs a great support system! Fill out the form below to directly email our psychotherapists to find out more information on how we can help you.