Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Many expect that after giving birth a new mom should feel overjoyed, as this is the happiest time in their lives. But what happens this isn’t the case? What happens when a new mom secretly asks herself, “Why don’t I feel like holding my baby?” and “I feel like I’m going crazy.” or even “Why am I having thoughts of hurting my baby?”
According to the American Psychological Association an estimated 9-16 % of postpartum women will experience Postpartum Depression. Among second time mothers who have already experienced postpartum depression some estimates increase to 41%. Those statistics are staggering! That means that a lot of women experience postpartum depression. But what are the symptoms?
For mothers, postpartum depression can affect their ability to function in everyday life. Symptoms include:
- a loss of pleasure or interest in life,
- loss of energy
- problems sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping
- feelings irritable, anxious or worried
- withdrawing from family and friends,
- crying, and for some,
- thoughts of hurting oneself or one’s child;
Most have feelings of anxiety, guilt, self blame, and fear. Some women have trouble meeting their infants care needs. These symptoms can be problematic because mothers are expected to attend immediately and constantly to their infants. Family roles, work roles and relationships are all redefined when a new baby arrives.
- An extreme form of Postpartum Depression is Postpartum Psychosis. These symptoms include:
- Feeling removed from your baby, other people or your surroundings
- Extreme confusion, disorganized thinking
- Drastic changes in mood or bizarre behavior
- Extreme agitation or restlessness.
- Delusions or thinking that isn’t based in reality
Children of mothers with postpartum depression can become withdrawn, irritable, or inconsolable making it even harder for these moms to care for them. Later some children can display problems attaching to their parents, have behavioral or developmental problems. Believe it or not, fathers can also be depressed in the postpartum period, especially if the mother is depressed or if life after baby is dissatisfying.
What causes postpartum depression?
Hormone changes during pregnancy can make some women depressed.
A previous experience of depression and anxiety, a personal or family history of depression, marital dysfunction, stressful events and being a young mother are other factors that can cause postpartum depression.
What can you do about it?
1. Tell someone how you are feeling. It’s critical to have those around you understand your feeling so they can give you support. Even if this is just a few minutes alone to relax or take a bath.
2. Talk to your doctor about what’s happening. They can suggest some resources to help you such as reading or professional support.
3. Talk to other moms! You’d be surprised how many women share similar feelings or know someone who has.
Know that you don’t have to face this alone. For more resources, search The American Psychological Association www.apa.org under the topic Postpartum Depression.