Recognizing the Signs of Postpartum Depression and Getting Help
The birth of a child is a wondrous and glorious thing. Until you bring that baby home and are responsible for keeping it alive on zero sleep for weeks and weeks. Add to this already another shift of hormonal and no wonder why parents are not feeling so blissful. While it’s normal for every new parent to feel some stress and irritability in the weeks after giving birth, it is estimated that 1 in 7 will experience postpartum depression (PPD), through no fault of their own.
What makes some people more susceptible to Perinatal Depression than others? It is believed that a combination of things including hormones, genetics, predisposition, support (or lack of), and stress all create a perfect storm to experience perinatal depression/postpartum depression.
As if experiencing PPD isn’t hard enough, there are actually a few myths surrounding the condition that can make a new parent feel even worse. Let’s dispel those myths right now:
Myth #1: PPD starts after given birth.
PPD can actually start while you are pregnant. It is often referred to as perinatal depression or prenatal depression. In fact, it is believed that in 50% of birthing people experiencing PPD, the symptoms began during pregnancy.
Myth #2: PPD starts immediately after giving birth.
In those instances where PPD does begin after given birth, it is not uncommon for symptoms to begin well beyond the first 6 weeks. This can often take the new parent by surprise.
Myth #3: PPD is the only postpartum illness a birthing person may experience.
The truth is, there is an entire collection of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) besides PPD that a person may experience such as anxiety, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and perinatal/postpartum psychosis. These are all challenging disorders new parents experience.
Now let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of PPD so you know what to be aware of.
- Guilt – You feel like you should be handling the situation better. Many women feel worthless in the role of mother.
- You Can’t be Comforted – With baby blues, mothers feel overwhelmed but can be comforted by encouraging words from their partner or loved ones. But with PPD, reassurance feels like a lie.
- You Fantasize About Escaping – While many new moms think about wanting to just get away for a week or two to get some rest and feel human again, women with PPD fantasize about leaving and never returning because they think their families will be better off. NOTE: If you have thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek help immediately. Call or text 988 for the suicide lifeline or call 911 for immediate assistance.
- You’re Angry and Irritable – You snap at your partner, at the baby, at the dog. You no longer feel in control of your own emotions.
Not everyone will experience every symptoms. But if you are experiencing any of these, it’s important that you get help. PPD is very treatable, so it’s important that you recognize the signs, understand that you’re not a bad parent, and reach out for the help you need.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you during this time.