Postpartum Depression – What Is It?
Do you ever look at those images on Instagram of mothers beaming over their newborns and think, “Why don’t I feel that way about my baby? Is something wrong with me?”. Not feeling that instant connection with your newborn could be very normal, as some parents take days or even weeks to bond with their babies. However, if there are other emotions happening, particularly anger and hopelessness, and the feelings are lasting more than two weeks, this may be a sign of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is the type of depression a woman may have after giving birth to a child. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 8 women, and signs can begin to show up as early as 2 weeks after childbirth, up to 6-9 months after.
Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression
Coming home with a new baby can be an overwhelming experience. The days and weeks after childbirth may have you crying a lot, feeling anxious or sad, and not feeling like yourself. This is considered quite normal and known as the Baby Blues. It is often the few days right after birth, when your hormones are still out of whack and your body is adjusting to having had a baby. This feeling can last about two weeks and traditionally is no cause for concern. When the sadness lasts more than two weeks and you begin to experience other intense emotions, this is a cause for concern and could be Postpartum Depression.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Signs of Postpartum Depression could begin as lack of sleep and crying, but it can also be emotions you are feeling that you suppress. You may begin to feel as though you are failing as a mother. You may even have feelings of not liking your child or wanting to be around them. Some other signs of postpartum depression are:
- Worthlessness or feelings of guilt and inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with your newborn
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Excessive crying
- Irritability or anger
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeplessness or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Recurrent suicidal thoughts
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your newborn
Postpartum depression comes in many forms and presents itself at different times. Postpartum depression affects all ages, races, and economic statuses. It does not discriminate.
I Can’t Get Depressed – I Am Too Strong For This
As women are opening up more about the emotions they experience after birth, it is becoming more common for your healthcare providers to check-in with you after birth. However, there are still stigmas around Postpartum Depression, and some women may worry about getting help. Postpartum Depression can be difficult for women to discuss because it can be seen as a weakness. This is not the case. You are not weak or a bad person to be experiencing this. You did nothing wrong. In fact, it is the opposite. You are reading this because you may have some concerns and want to understand what is happening.
“I still don’t really like to say, “I have postpartum depression,” because the word depression scares a lot of people. I often just call it “postpartum.” Maybe I should say it, though. Maybe it will lessen the stigma a bit.” ~Chrissy Teigen
What Can I Do About Postpartum Depression?
If you think you may be depressed, or even have questions about this, speak to someone. This could be your healthcare provider, a licensed therapist, or a family/friend who knows you. Starting a conversation is the first step. Postpartum Depression does need to be properly diagnosed by a licensed therapist or after speaking with your doctor. There are different levels of treatment, ranging from therapy to antidepressants.
If therapy is the best choice for you, there are a few options –
Individual Counseling – Three forms of therapy have been shown great success when working with women experiencing Postpartum Depression.
Interpersonal Therapy – This form of therapy focuses on your relationships with your child and your support system – and working through each of those.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy – This form of therapy focuses on how you may be thinking about yourself as a mother and your child. Working to understand the negative thoughts, when they occur, and adjust the thinking towards working through them.
Group Therapy – The benefit to Group Therapy can be the support of other members working through the same feelings you may be having.
Where Do I Start? 704-503-8196; 828-333-9320
If you feel you may be depressed, reach out to your healthcare provider or a licensed therapist to start the conversation. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thinking of harming you baby, seek help immediately.
Written by Scottie Miller
Scottie is a staff writer pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health with a focus on serving women & children.