Having a child can be a great joy and it is also a big adjustment. Sometimes becoming a parent can impact your mood, functioning and relationship with your partner. It can even feel difficult to bond with your child. During pregnancy and after delivery of your child, you and your partner go through a huge adjustment and may experience a range of emotions. This can be a challenging time, especially if you’re surprised by unexpected feelings of postpartum depression or anxiety.
You may have heard about ‘baby blues’ and that some mood changes are normal or to be expected. While these changes are a normal part of the hormonal, physical and emotional adjustments after pregnancy and childbirth, if it is lasting more than a couple of weeks, or these feelings come back anytime in the first year after delivery for more than two weeks, you should seek consultation right away.
What are postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety?
The onset of mood changes can occur during pregnancy or postpartum. Onset of postpartum depression and anxiety can occur after birth for up to one year. Typically, if the symptoms listed below are present for two weeks or more, it may be more than the ‘baby blues’. Postpartum depression affects 20% of postpartum women. Postpartum anxiety affects roughly 15%. Postpartum depression is the #1 most common complication of child birth.
You are not alone.
A combination of biological, environmental and physiological factors are in flux and may create Feelings and Symptoms of:
anxiety • obsessive thinking • irritability and anger • tearfulness • sadness • sleeplessness •exhaustion • loss or increase in appetite • difficulty with concentration and focus • feelings of inadequacy • guilt or shame • loss of interest in things you used to like • difficulty feeling connected to your child or partner • difficulty making decisions• hopelessness • numbness • thoughts of death or harm to yourself or your child.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, please reach out to your partner, friend, family or a professional for support and guidance. Help is available. While these feelings can be scary or leave you feeling out of control, you can seek treatment and you can feel better.
What can I start to do about Postpartum Depression?
It is very important during this delicate time to take as good care of yourself as possible. This can seem difficult considering how tired you may be feeling. Taking care of yourself can include: talking with your support people on how to get solid sleep, eating well, resting when possible, talk to someone you trust, get out of the house for a daily walk, ask for help from your partner or other support people, allow others to help you and most importantly be kind to yourself in your own thoughts.
Depression and Anxiety change your thinking.
Feelings and thoughts of guilt, blame, inadequacy or “should’s” make people feel worse. You may even start think you’re not being a good mother or partner. When you notice those types of thoughts cropping up, try focusing on what you do well, ideas of getting through this, feeling better, getting the support you need. Postpartum depression is treatable, you will get through this. You are not alone. Psychotherapy for pregnancy and postpartum moods and having a good support system is crucial in getting through this difficult time. A psychotherapist can help you manage and understand what is happening for you, as well as help you develop perspective and skills to get you back to feeling like yourself and engaged in your family.
Self-care helps. Professional care helps.
For moderate to severe symptoms, it is important to get in touch with a care provider who is experienced and knowledgeable about treating pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen and last for years causing undo pain and suffering. Perinatal and postpartum mood disorders are very responsive to treatment through therapy and, if needed, medication.
There are many forms of healing. Please check with your OB to make sure all blood tests are up to date, specifically Thyroid and Vitamin D. Other help can come from acupuncture, massage, yoga, walking, support groups and rest. Not one thing alone will fix the problem. Talk with a professional who is trained in pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders to help with a treatment plan.
For more info on postpartum depression, go to www.postpartum.net
If you are at immediate risk of hurting yourself or your child, please go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.