Postpartum Depression / Stress is the most common complication of childbirth, affecting 20-25% of women -- not a surprise being that the following delivery is the most psychologically fragile time in a woman’s entire life. The postpartum time is a “perfect storm” of events, with physical pain, hormonal shifts, feeding challenges, exhaustion and round-the-clock care of a newborn - your life as you know it is turned on its axis. Not to mention that there can be other children who have needs, financial / work stresses, relationships that start feeling strained, a baby who is hard to decipher and soothe, and possible health complications / nic-u stay, or multiple babies.
For women who have a history of depression, the risk is higher for developing a postpartum depression. It can feel very isolating, and shameful - people often hear from well-meaning friends and family; “Isn't this the most wonderful time in life?”, or, “How can you feel depressed when you look at this baby?” These opinions can make a suffering mother feel even worse. It’s important to know that postpartum depression is common, 100% treatable, and the sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel like yourself again.
Postpartum depression is an anxious depression that cycles around from “good days” and “bad days” -- the more “bad days” you are having in a week, likely the more severe the state you’re in. Sometimes the anxious symptoms are much more pronounced, and are often dismissed, but they are also a part of the possible postpartum constellation of symptoms.
Some common symptoms are:
- feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt
- irritability and restlessness
- anxiety or feelings of panic
- insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- feeling overwhelmed / fear of being alone with the baby
- obsessive or repetitive thoughts or worries ("scary thoughts")
If some of this list sounds like what you are experiencing -- please let someone know because prolonged depression and stress is not healthy for mom or for baby. Therapy will help.