If you’ve just had a baby but don’t feel like you’re glowing in the post-birth bliss you may have expected, you could be experiencing postpartum depression. While some 80 percent of new moms get post-baby blues, 10-15 percent experience serious depression, anxiety, and even OCD.
Some trepidation is totally normal, but postpartum depression and anxiety lasting more than two weeks is something that should be taken seriously. Knowing the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression will help you better understand how to relieve it and find the baby bliss you deserve.
10 Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression often begins a few months after the baby is born and can leave you feeling completely helpless. Do you recognize any of the following signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?
- Trouble Concentrating
- Irritability and Anger
- Anxiety and Worry
- Exhaustion and Fatigue
- Negative Emotions
- Changes in Appetite
- Sleeping Problems
- Headaches, Muscle Pain, Sore Back, Stomach Issues
If you’re experiencing some of these signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, you know how hard they can be to manage. This can truly be one of the most difficult (and confusing) experiences in a woman’s life and shouldn’t go untreated.
What’s it Like to Have Postpartum Depression?
Having postpartum depression is much more than simply experiencing the baby blues. You might be questioning your ability to take care of your child or even questioning your decision to have a baby in the first place. These feelings can be really difficult to understand and leave you feeling ashamed and quite helpless.
Having postpartum depression can be a very lonely and frustrating experience. Not feeling close to your baby can make you question your worth and may even make you wonder if your baby wouldn’t be better off without you.
Having a new baby is no doubt a difficult transition. Constantly caring for a baby and not getting time alone can quickly cause resentment not just of your baby but of your partner, friends without kids, and other new moms you see who seem to have it “all together.”
Feeling empty is another telltale sign and symptom of postpartum depression. If you feel numb to the world around you (baby included) and don’t have the drive or desire to do anything that used to bring you joy, you’re most likely in a very real post-baby funk.
Feeling disconnected (usually from everything around you) and like you’re separate from the rest of the world are common in women experiencing postpartum depression. Constant crying and tearfulness are also something you might be experiencing.
Different Kinds of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression doesn’t fit into a specific mold. From floating anxiety and depression to excessive worry and undue stress, postpartum depression is a multi-faceted condition. Just as there are different signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, there are also different types.
Postpartum Major Depression
When your baby blues last longer than a couple weeks, it’s likely you could be suffering from postpartum major depression. It’s here that symptoms surpass just feeling sad or anxious and slip into stronger negative feelings that tend to feel more severe and last much longer.
Trouble concentrating, mood swings, tearfulness, sadness, and suicidal thoughts often accompany postpartum major depression. Constipation and bloating are some physical signs and symptoms of postpartum depression in this case as well.
While this particular type of postpartum depression will only affect 1-2 women out of 1,000, it can cause serious concern. Postpartum psychosis starts out with the general irritability and anxiousness found in regular postpartum depression, but symptoms tend to increase in intensity.
Signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis often comprise delusions, invasive thoughts, hallucinations, and loss of interest in one’s baby. Mood may change very rapidly with this particular type of postpartum depression; one might feel amazing one moment and severely depressed the next.
Coping with Postpartum Depression
The good news about postpartum depression is that it will go away. If you’ve been experiencing signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, there are ways to cope. Incorporating the following ideas into your new life with baby will make coping with postpartum easier and give you back the happiness you (and your baby) deserve.
Being a new mom can make you feel extremely isolated. New mothers are often alone much of the time with little or no social life to speak of. If you’re feeling depressed, it’s vital that you reach out to others. It could be as simple as inviting a friend over for coffee or tea while baby is napping or even having someone come watch the baby while you go for a 30-minute walk. Seeking out other moms going through the same experience can help tremendously as well.
Be Sure to Bond with Your Baby
If you don’t feel like interacting with your baby, you’re not alone. Many new mothers experiencing postpartum depression feel the same. However, bonding with your baby is fundamental to their health and wellbeing, and just as your baby needs to feel emotionally attached to you, you need to feel the same with your baby. Not only does this secure your bond, but it also releases natural endorphins that make you feel more joyful and happy.
Take Care of YOU
New moms often end up neglecting themselves in this new transition. Making sure to keep your own mental and physical well being in check will ensure that you don’t feel the baby blues nearly as severely. Neglecting your physical and emotional needs will only make you feel worse, and keeping yourself secluded inside will put a serious damper on even the most beautiful of days. Get out in the sun, eat frequently, practice mindful meditation, go for a walk, do some gentle online yoga or workout classes, and make sure to get plenty of sleep. While this may seem easier said than done, try to take at least a few hours a day to focus on you. When you make yourself a priority, it will be much easier to take care of your baby.
How to Help Someone You Love who has Postpartum Depression
If someone you love is showing signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, the number one thing you can do is offer your help and encouragement. Whether it’s your partner, sister, or best friend, an offer to take on some responsibilities will be a welcomed blessing for the new mom.
You can offer serious support by simply listening (without judgment) to how she feels. Taking care of the housework one afternoon or offering to cook a meal is also a great way to help someone you love who is experiencing a bout of postpartum depression.
Make sure she’s taking time for herself and gets the time away from the baby she needs. You could take the baby for a walk in a stroller or offer to stay with the baby for an hour so mom can take a break.
Postpartum depression isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to ruin your new life. Recognizing postpartum depression and actively participating in ways to lessen the symptoms will help greatly, giving you a chance to experience what being a new mom should be like – full of love and joy mixed with just a little frustration and a few sleepless nights.
Have you suffered from postpartum depression? Do you have any tips for other women who might be feeling the same? We’d love to hear what worked for you in the comments below!