Postpartum Depression Symptoms
You give birth to your baby and expect the picture perfect scene: tears of joy, breastfeeding effortlessly, bonding with baby, and a thriving relationship. I mean that’s what is shown in movies and what your friends post on social media so it must be real, right? Unfortunately, the reality of the postpartum period is rarely shown accurately. The birth of a baby can trigger so many different emotions; joy, excitement, anxiety, fear, and even depression.
You may have heard of the term “baby blues” but do you actually know what it means? Baby Blues are not a mental health disorder and are not a mild form of depression. It is a common experience new parents have following birth, in fact 60-80% of new mothers experience baby blues. Baby blues occur due to hormone fluctuation at the time of the birth and acute sleep deprivation. Symptoms last between two days to two weeks following birth. Further, symptoms usually peak 3-5 days after delivery.
Difference Between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression
“What’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?” This is a question many new parents ask because it's hard to know the difference and what to look out for when it comes to maternal mental health.
Feeling shame or guilt
Thoughts to harm yourself or your baby
Anxiety and/or panic
Mood swings, anger
Last beyond 2weeks past delivery
It is important to take note of the severity and intensity, timing and onset, and duration and chronicity of your symptoms when determining whether you are experiencing baby blues or postpartum depression. Meaning, the symptoms of postpartum depression is more severe and intense and it lasts longer than the baby blues. Furthermore, it's important to note that partner's can also experience symptoms of postpartum depression.
How Postpartum Depression Symptoms Might Present
If you are experiencing postpartum depression you may not openly express or even know you are depressed. You may be saying phrases like:
“I do not feel like myself”
“I haven’t showered in days”
“I don’t feel connected to the baby”
“I don’t feel like socializing”
“I can’t sleep even when the baby sleeps”
“This is all too much”
With so many changes in your life, it is hard to pinpoint the signs of depression but you know you just don’t feel like “yourself.” If you are saying or thinking any of these phrases, there is help for postpartum depression out there for you.
“Motherhood Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be”
This is such a common phrase I hear from my clients. While pregnant it is only natural to start picturing what the future is going to be like.
You find out you’re pregnant & you start envisioning what motherhood is going to look like...
”I know they say it’s hard, but how hard can it REALLY be?”
”I’m not going to need that much help, I can handle it.”
”My baby is definitely going to breastfeed just fine.”
”I’ll definitely be able to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps!’”
”I don’t think maintaining my friendships will be hard, all my relationships will definitely stay the same.”
These are some thoughts or assumptions you may have been thinking while pregnant only to have a completely different reality once your baby was actually born. Assumptions can bring about disappointment which can lead to guilt, shame, and depression.
So where do these assumptions of motherhood come from? Personally, I think a lack of awareness and education during the prenatal stage of motherhood. Mental health & the realities of motherhood need to be discussed, not to scare anyone but to properly prepare new parents for what’s to come. If we are more aware, we can prepare & gather support BEFORE the baby arrives.
Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression is curable and it is possible for you to feel like yourself again. The sooner you reach out after symptoms begin, the quicker you will feel better. Therapy for postpartum depression can offer you a safe space to process your emotions, realities of motherhood and personal disappointments which exacerbate postpartum symptoms.
Common Goals of Therapy for Postpartum Depression:
Coping with your new identity
Processing your expectations vs. realities
Reducing perfectionism and comparison
Working on communication and conflict resolution
Grief and loss resolution
All in all, I want you to know there is hope and there is help available for you. You do not have to suffer in silence. I understand what you are going through and I can help support you through this challenging time. Reach out today to talk more about how I can become part of your team.
Resource For Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Support International New Jersey Chapter