Most women and men have at least heard of postpartum depression or anxiety (PPD and PPA). You have probably even read about it more than once throughout your or your partner’s pregnancy. However, after the baby is born, it can be easy to ignore some common symptoms if/when they arise.
Often, postpartum symptoms are disregarded as the “baby blues.” While the baby blues are very common, and many people struggle with some mood swings, crying easily, and feeling overwhelmed after their child is born, the baby blues resolve within a couple of weeks and do not significantly impair functioning. Postpartum depression and anxiety are more significant and need to be taken seriously in order to resolve.
While PPD and PPA are manageable and won’t last forever, they are difficult to deal with when you’re trying to care for a newborn. In order to get help with your symptoms, it is crucial that you receive a proper diagnosis. Therefore, it’s important to know the signs of PPD/PPA so that you can be aware of whether you need to see a professional for diagnosis and treatment. Here are some warning signs to look out for.
1. Your Postpartum Symptoms Are Not Improving
You may think you’re just dealing with the “baby blues;” however, if you don’t start to feel better within a couple of weeks, that is a sign that it could be PPD/PPA. It’s common to feel a little down, stressed, or overwhelmed for the first few weeks of your baby’s life, but if these feelings don’t start to lessen, or if they are getting worse, it could be a sign of something more.
2. Your Sadness or Worry is Consuming
Feeling overwhelmed by sadness or guilt the majority of the time is a sign of PPD. You may feel hopeless about the future, or cry at different times of the day for no reason. On the other hand, you may feel highly anxious, worrying throughout the day and night about a variety of things, such as whether you are a good parent, your child’s safety, and the ways in which you are caring for your child. Feeling tense, worried, and overwhelmed the majority of the time is a sign of PPA. When these feelings of sadness or anxiety take over your life and are making it difficult to function, it’s time to get help.
3. Your Interests Change
Many women who struggle with PPD or PPA find that they are no longer enjoying things that used to bring them pleasure. This can include everything from movies and activities, to foods they typically enjoy. Of course, you aren’t going to be happy and overjoyed all the time. However, if some of your favorite things aren’t making you feel any better, it’s important to find out why.
4. You Can’t Sleep (Even When The Baby Does)
It’s normal to experience changes in your sleeping patterns after giving birth. After all, you’ve got a new baby to take care of, and he or she is bound to be up several times during the night. However, if you find yourself unable to fall or stay asleep (even when you have the opportunity), it could be a sign of PPD or PPA. Sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on your mood, and can make it more difficult to cope with all of the changes in your life that occur when you have a newborn. For this reason, it is especially important to seek out help if you are not getting enough sleep.
5. You Have Thoughts of Suicide or Self-Harm
For some people, the feelings of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness or anxiety and guilt become nearly too much to bear. You might believe that you’ll never feel better or that there is no way to improve your situation. As a result, you begin to experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm. If this is what you have been experiencing, it is crucial that you reach out for professional help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is always available at 1-800-273-8255 or you can text HOME to 741741 anytime to text with someone about what is going on for you.
If any of these signs sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. One is seven women and one in ten men experience postpartum depression, and ten percent of women will develop postpartum anxiety. The sooner that you reach out for help, the sooner you will begin to feel better and more like yourself again.
If you’re worried that you or your partner may have PPD or PPA, contact me for more information or to set up an appointment. Together, we will work to improve the way you’re feeling, so you can start to enjoy parenthood.