After months of waiting, the birth of a child can bring joy and wonder into a family’s life. Unfortunately, for mothers experiencing postpartum depression, this joy can be overshadowed with feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a very serious illness that can occur in the first few months after the birth of a baby. It can also happen after a miscarriage and stillbirth as well. When it occurs, this affliction can also make it very difficult for a mother to bond with and care for her new baby.
It is important to not confuse the “baby blues” with postpartum depression. The “baby blues” are common in the first few weeks after childbirth and include crying and feeling a bit overwhelmed, but not at the level that interfere with care and bonding. The symptoms of postpartum depression however, are more severe and can last for several months.
If left untreated, women experiencing postpartum depression are in danger of hurting their baby and themselves.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please speak with your doctor who can help you get connected with a licensed therapist and prescribe medication if needed. These symptoms are not a normal part of childbirth and you do not have to suffer silently.
Extreme Anxiety or Worry
It is normal for new mothers to be nervous. After all, taking care of a newborn baby is a huge responsibility. However, when these fears become irrational and increase in severity over time, this can be a sign of PPD. Here are some examples of this extreme worry: a mother who refuses to leave the house because she is convinced she and her child will get into a car accident or a mother who is terrified to bathe her baby because she believes her baby will drown.
Changes to Sleeping or Eating Habits
Changes in eating or sleeping habits are often warning signs of emotional distress. For new mothers, eating very little or far more than usual is a red flag and an assessment for PPD is warranted.
Also, new mothers are usually exhausted and should sleep when given the opportunity to rest. If you or someone you love is a new mother that is having difficulty sleeping, this can also be a sign of PPD.
Feelings of Rage
New mothers who have PPD may find themselves with feelings of chronic irritability and even rage. If you are experiencing or seeing a sudden shift towards unusually angry or aggressive behavior this could be a sign that something more may be going on and should be assessed.
Mothers experiencing PPD need a lot of support. This means asking not just how the baby is, but how she is and really listening to the answer. It also means helping take care of the baby so the new mother can rest and get the help she needs.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.