Common Signs of Postpartum Depression and How to Heal
Updated: Apr 15
Guest Post written by: Patrice Payment, founder of Mom Life Counseling, LLC. and professional counselor
Having a baby is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, but it can also be one of life’s biggest stressors. The transition is often overwhelming for even those of us who are veteran moms. Your life can feel like it’s been turned upside down. Not only are you adjusting to new routines and more than likely sleep deprivation, but now you’re responsible for another human being!
You may be feeling so bad that you’re wondering if what you’re experiencing is postpartum depression (PPD). It’s normal to feel sad or moody after having a baby, but if you still don’t feel like yourself after 2 weeks you may have more than “the baby blues”.
Understanding the common signs and symptoms of postpartum depression can help you decide if it’s time to reach out for help. According to Postpartum Support International, 15-20% of women experience significant depression within the first two years of childbirth.
10 Common Signs of Postpartum Depression
1. Persistent sadness: Feeling down or tearful for an extended period of time, with little to no relief.
2. Loss of interest: A lack of enjoyment in activities that you used to enjoy, including spending time with baby, family, and friends.
3. Difficulty bonding with your baby: Struggling to emotionally connect with, feeling detached from, or experiencing feelings of resentment towards baby.
4. Appetite changes: Overeating or a loss of appetite, which often leads to significant weight gain or loss.
5. Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or difficulty sleeping even when the baby sleeps. Could also include sleeping too much yet still feeling constantly drained and low energy.
6. Reduced concentration and decision-making abilities: Struggling to focus or make decisions, even about simple things.
7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt: Persistent thoughts of feeling inadequate as a mom; Or feeling undeserving of love and happiness.
8. Anxiety and panic attacks: Excessive worry, racing thoughts, or sudden intense fear and discomfort.
9. Feelings of intense anger, agitation, or irritability with those around you.
10. Thoughts about hurting yourself or the baby: (If you or someone you know is having thoughts about harming yourself or someone else, seek help right away. Contact The National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis. Or Call 988.
Who Is At Risk?
While postpartum depression can affect any mother, certain factors can increase your risk for experiencing it. Knowing these risk factors can help you plan ahead for the care that you need.
· A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression.
· Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
· Lack of support in caring for the baby.
· Financial stress.
· Marital stress.
· Complications in pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
· A major recent life event: such as a house move, job loss, death of a loved one.
· Mothers of multiples.
· Mothers whose infants spent time in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
· Mothers that have experienced infertility issues.
· An unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
· Women with a thyroid imbalance.
· Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational).
If you think you may be at risk for PPD, the best thing you can do is discuss your concerns with your medical providers and your support system.
If you’re experiencing postpartum depression, you may feel like it’s never going to get better. But PPD is treatable. There is hope and with help, you will recover.
1. Talk to your partner, friends, or family members. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone your trust. Sometimes just talking about what you’re going through can help relieve some of the burden and your support system can help you figure out the next steps.
2. Consult a healthcare professional such as your primary care physician, obgyn, midwife, or doula.
3. Join a support group: Postpartum Support International has free online support groups for parents in all kinds of circumstances from those who have experienced birth trauma, to military moms and they even have support groups for dads.
4. Seek therapy from a trained mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) and other therapeutic approaches have been shown to be highly effective in treating PPD.
5. Consider medication: Antidepressant medications can help you manage the symptoms of PPD and give you the extra support that you need to get back on your feet. It doesn’t have to be forever. You can reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss the potential benefits and risks of taking medication.
6. Prioritize self-care: Make time to do things that promote your physical and emotional well-being. Exercise and eating a balanced diet are crucial to helping you stay at your best during this time of transition. Also, find ways to relax and do the things you used to do that brought you joy before you became a mom. It may seem impossible to find the time for yourself, but it’s so important. Self-care is not selfish and will help you be a better mom for your baby!
It can feel overwhelming not knowing where to start or who to talk to, but the important thing is that you let someone know that you’re having a hard time. Check out this article on Navigating Maternal Mental Health for more resources and guidance on how to get the help you need.
Remember getting help and even going to therapy is not a sign of weakness. It actually makes you stronger! With help, you can heal and find your old self again.
Patrice Payment is a licensed professional counselor in Roswell, Georgia. She offers individual and group therapy for moms who are struggling with maternal mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or overwhelm. She received a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University in 2006. Her experience includes intake counselor at Ridgeview Institute, care advocate for managed care, and play therapy with young children. She practices from a person-centered perspective and uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques when appropriate to help her clients learn how they can change their thoughts and behaviors to lead a more fulfilled life.
Reach out to Patrice today for a free 10-minute consultation to see if working together would be a good fit.