Postpartum depression affects up to 20% of new moms, but what are the symptoms?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is one of those tricky syndromes that are hard to pin down, since they largely evolve emotions. Having a baby is one of the most emotionally-charged things you can do in your lifetime (I should know, I have had 4), so it is normal to experience a myriad of different emotions after the birth of your child, but how can you tell if these feeling are completely normal, or a symptom of something more?
According to the CDC, between 11-20 percent of women have PPD symptoms, which can start up to a year after giving birth. You are more likely to experience PPD if you have suffered from depression or bipolar disorder before, have mental illness in your family, experienced medical complications during labor, or lack emotional support from friends, family, or your partner.
There are however, some simple ways to tell if you should consult your doctor about PPD.
Extreme Anxiety– If the idea of making choices terrifies your or seems impossible, or if you are overly worried that you are doing something wrong, you could be suffering from PPD. I should note here that all first-time mothers think they are doing everything wrong, but if this fear is crippling and paralyzing to the point where you can’t take action, it may be a symptom of a larger problem.
Sleep Loss- Granted, every new mother is going to experience some sleep loss. However if you aren’t sleeping at all, even when your baby is sleeping through the night you may suffer from PPD.
Depression and Harmful thoughts– As I said before, your emotions will probably run the gamut after first giving birth, but if you feel despondent all the time to the point that it impacts your daily life, it may be time to check with your doctor. It is also normal to worry about hurting your baby or yourself, but if you have thoughts about actually doing so on purpose, it could be PPD.
The problem with PPD is that many women are ashamed to have negative emotions after the birth of a child. It is supposed to be an amazing, positive experience, so many women don’t feel comfortable coming forward and talking about it. Keeping it bottled up just feeds the issue, and makes it worse. So if you think you may be suffering from Postpartum, my advice to you is to first find someone to talk to about it, and then if the symptoms don’t abate, consult your doctor. At the end of the day we can all agree that the health of your baby, and yourself are the two most important factors for any new mom, so if you think you could have postpartum, take it seriously.