You recently welcomed a bundle of joy into your home, and the first few days were magical. However, now that the newborn pixie dust is starting to settle, you’re feeling off. You’ve heard stories of all the woes that come after the baby. And you start to wonder if the same is going to happen to you. What does postpartum depression feel like? What are the symptoms? How do you know if you really have it, or if you’re just exaggerating with your spike in hormones? And if you do, what are your postpartum counseling options?
As we dive into this heartbreaking illness, we want to remind you of a few important things…
- You may not be experiencing all of the symptoms listed below. You may not even be experiencing most of them. That is okay.
- Postpartum depression is not a “one size fits all” illness. You may be experiencing a few symptoms at a time. You may not experience some symptoms at all. That too is okay.
- Many people experience the feelings listed below, and we all have bad days. Postpartum depression is not just “bad days”. Women experiencing these symptoms have them for at least two weeks or longer. And these symptoms make it difficult to live life each day.
- Lastly, those who develop postpartum depression are at greater risk of developing major depression later on in life. Untreated, postpartum depression can last months or years. This is why if you think you may be suffering, please talk to your doctor.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Most commonly known, the “baby blues” are considered to be the mildest form of postpartum depression. Approximately 50% to 75% of all new mothers will experience some negative feelings after giving birth. Normally these feelings occur suddenly four to five days after the birth of the baby.
The next tear is classified as postpartum depression (PPD). Approximately 15% of new mothers will experience it. Symptoms may occur a few days after delivery or sometimes as late as a year later. Women who experience postpartum depression will have alternating good days and bad days. Symptoms can be mild or severe, usually lasting for over 2 weeks.
Because postpartum depression can range in severity, it’s very important than any woman experiencing these symptoms talk with her health care provider. Treatment may include postpartum counseling and/or medication.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:
- You feel extremely overwhelmed. Thoughts like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this” pop into your head. You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
- You feel extreme waves of guilt. Perhaps you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. The happiness or connection that you thought you would feel isn’t there. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
- You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that your social media streams are filled with. It makes you feel like you aren’t enough for your baby.
- You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. There are times you even feel out-of-control rage.
- You feel nothing. Maybe you feel empty and numb. It seems as though you are just going through the motions.
- You feel extreme sadness and can’t stop crying. Everything seems hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
- Food is becoming an issue. You can’t bring yourself to eat. Or at the other end of the spectrum, eating is the only thing that makes you feel better.
- Your relationship with sleep has changed as well. You can’t sleep. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up throughout the night. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done.
- You can’t concentration is shot. Focusing is difficult, or even impossible. You can’t think of the words you want to say. It seems as if your short term memory has disappeared. You can’t make decisions.
- You feel disconnected. Maybe isolated is a better word for it. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
- You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
- Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising and taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality or you’re trying yoga. You’re thinking, “Why can’t I just get over this?” You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
We want to validate you right now as you’re reading this. You are not alone in your suffering. We know it may feel like you are alone. We know you have many doubts. But you are not alone.
No, really. Click here for an eye-opening article about Chrissy Teigen’s experiences with postpartum depression.
We know admitting that you’re struggling is hard. Society has tried to convince you that you have to have it all. But society is wrong. The fact that you even clicked this blog post shows your bravery. It shows that postpartum depression isn’t going to define you.
The Associates at CPA Want to Help!
As always, we first want to disclaim that you should discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. This could be your family doctor, your OB/GYN, or a public health nurse. There are many forms of postpartum treatment, and we have discussed many of these tools in our blog posts. Such examples are focusing on mindfulness, cognitive behavior therapy, and dialectic behavior therapy.
As part of our postpartum counseling, we want to remind you of the critical importance of sharing how you are feeling with your partner and family. Building a network of trust and support is a complete game changer. We want to be part of that support group. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you navigate postpartum depression.
Amber Chapman earned her Master’s Degree from Waynesburg University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She has been a practicing therapist for over 17 years, helping others find balance in all areas of life.