Sponsored by Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System
Having a baby is a momentous occasion that is surrounded by excitement and happiness but also fear and anxiety. The journey can be a difficult change to process, and the tumultuous hormones don’t make things any easier.
Most people have heard of postpartum depression but may not fully understand what exactly it is or how it affects mothers. The term “baby blues” has been coined to describe the sudden sadness and loss of energy mothers feel the days after giving birth, but baby blues and postpartum depression are two very different things.
Postpartum depression is long-lasting, extending past the few days of baby blues and can escalate to more severe levels, or postpartum psychosis, if not acknowledged or treated appropriately. This form of depression, like any form of depression, is not a weakness nor a reflection on the person affected. This can affect one in nine new mothers before or after birth.
The following symptoms may not appear in every case, each person is different. Professional help should be sought if any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks during pregnancy or after birth.
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Intense irritability and anger
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Excessive crying
- Flat emotions
- Inability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Lack of interest and pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Though much rarer than postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis is just as important to look out for and can often be more severe than depression. The symptoms can develop anytime within the first week after delivery.
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Sleep disturbances
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Excessive energy and agitation
If you experience any of the above symptoms for either postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, or the symptoms get worse, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. Care can include therapy or prescription medications, and what’s important to remember is that mental and physical health go hand in hand. There is nothing braver than asking for help and taking care of yourself.