Have you ever looked at your newborn and thought, “I just can’t do this” or “I feel like the baby doesn’t like me”? Perhaps you’ve had thoughts that are even worse. The good news is, you’re not alone and there is help for you.
Postpartum depression affects more women than you might think. There are more than 3 million documented cases in the U.S. every year. But when it happens to you, it can feel isolating, heart breaking, confusing, and discouraging—take heart knowing that you’re not the first, or the only, woman to go through it.
While every new mom tends to experience “baby blues” after giving birth, it’s important to understand the differences between postpartum baby blues and postpartum depression. And most importantly, make sure to visit your doctor if you think you might have postpartum depression.
Here’s what you need to know.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Vs. Baby Blues
Common Signs of “Baby Blues”
Signs and symptoms of baby blues, which usually last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born, may include:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced concentration
- Appetite problems
- Trouble sleeping
Your hormones are re-adjusting themselves, you’re probably not sleeping a lot, and you’ve got a brand new human at home. It’s a lot to take in, so it’s pretty common for new mothers to experience symptoms similar to the list above. If your symptoms disappear after a couple of weeks, you probably just had a case of “baby blues”.
Common Signs of Postpartum Depression
Sometimes postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first. However, the signs and symptoms are much more intense, last for a longer period of time, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and manage other daily tasks.
Symptoms of postpartum depression usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier (such as during pregnancy) or even up to a year after the birth of your child.
Postpartum depression signs and symptoms may include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If left untreated, postpartum depression could last for several months or longer. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. You don’t need to suffer any longer.
What You Can Do About Postpartum Depression
If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may feel too guilty or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum “baby blues” or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. These feelings are normal and quite common so a medical professional will be able to help you feel better.
You should also call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
If you are feeling suicidal, don’t hesitate to seek help. You should:
- Call a mental health professional.
- Call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
Postpartum depression happens to millions of women (and some new fathers) every year. The key is to reach out and ask for help. That’s the best thing you can do to care for your new baby, and yourself.
Don’t blame yourself for feeling this way—many new moms have gone through the same experience.
Reaching out to ask for help is a healthy part of self care. And while you are caring for a new baby, caring for yourself is just as important.
Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed of the thoughts and emotions you’re having – you’re not a bad mom, you’re a human being. And it’s all going to be okay.
Talk to your doctor or another healthcare professional right away and they’ll be able to help you on the road to recovery. Remember, it will get better!
Are you looking for an OB/Gyn and live in San Tan Valley? Let us join you on your pregnancy (and post-pregnancy) journey and help you find a path to motherhood that works for you. Book an appointment today!