1 in 5 women will experience postpartum depression.
70-80% of women will experience baby blues.
However, it is much higher than these statistics because not every mother goes in for a diagnosis and treatment. Some experts think it is double what the statistics show.
What is Postpartum Depression?
There are many forms of postpartum depression. I want to mention them and talk about the difference between each stage and form.
Every mother will experience baby blues in some form or another. Some symptoms might include:
- mood swings
- difficult sleeping
- feeling overwhelmed
- problems with your appetite
The baby blues typically lasts for about a week or two after you give birth. When it lasts longer and becomes more severe, it turns into postpartum depression.
This has many of the same symptoms as baby blues, but they are more intense and last a lot longer. In some extreme cases, it alters your ability to properly take care of yourself, your baby, and your family.
Postpartum can develop at any given time. Some have it during pregnancy, right after birth, and some don’t develop it until a year or so after birth. Similar to baby blues some symptoms include:
- Depression or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Having trouble bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family
- Change in appetite
- Sleeping problems
- Extreme fatigue
- Extreme irritability
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Can’t think clearly
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Postpartum depression can last years if left untreated. If you have these feelings, go see a doctor and get help right away.
This is a more rare condition, usually around 1% of moms, that usually begins in the first few weeks after birth. Some symptoms include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Obsessive thoughts about your baby
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive energy and agitation
- Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Postpartum anxiety is another common illness that many women get after giving birth. Some symptoms include:
- Constantly worried
- Always feeling like something bad is going to happen
- Racing mind
- Hard time eating and sleeping
- Can’t sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
You do not have to have OCD to develop this one. These feelings can feel out of the ordinary. The obsessions are mental thoughts about your child that are worrisome. It is something you do not typically think on your own.
The compulsions are things you do over and over again to help you reduce your fears and those crazy obsessions. Some other symptoms include:
- Fear of being left alone with the infant
- Hypervigilance in protecting the infant
It is important to note that moms with postpartum OCD know that their thoughts are crazy and rarely act upon them.
It started with the baby blues. The exhaustion took me on a whole other level. I was extremely moody and that took months to go away. I was irritable and a mess, ask my husband haha.
However, my symptoms got worse. I developed so much anxiety over protecting my baby that it became overwhelming.
My in-laws stayed with us for a month after she was born. I was still in school and needed to go to my classes. However, I would become so anxious to leave her. I made up excuses to miss class so I could stay with her.
Inevitably, I had to go to class. I clearly remember that day. It was a two and a half hour class at night. I shook the entire time. I didn’t hear a thing my teacher said because I was only focused on my baby.
The paranoia set in. I couldn’t leave her alone because I was so worried something would happen to her, I barely slept at night. I had a hard time eating and had a constant racing mind.
Being a psychology major, I learned intensely about postpartum depression. I knew the symptoms and what to watch for. I taught my husband so he could help as well. My husband and I had a plan set in place in case this happened.
When we both recognized it, we set our plan into motion. He took Abigail so I could take a shower. He had me go on walks by myself. I love getting the mail, so every day, I was able to go by myself and be in nature alone.
We had someone come and simply talk to me when he couldn’t be there. Then, we got my favorite foods to eat, we went to the beach. We made self-care a priority.
Things got better. Now, they didn’t get better right away, it definitely took time, but I got better. I still am overly cautious and worried at times. But, I learned the importance of self-care. We learned to take care of me, so I can take care of Abigail.
What Can We Do?
All women are susceptible to postpartum. It does not matter if you are rich, poor, white, black, sick, or healthy. Even fathers can develop it. So what can we do to help?
Learn the symptoms and signs so you can watch for them. The more knowledge you have, the more you know how to help. Talk with your spouse or close family and friends consistently.
Schedule time in for yourself. You cannot help anyone if you aren’t taken care of, so take care of yourself. You cannot properly take care of your baby if you are not okay. Find time to take a relaxing bath or shower by yourself. Go on walks, workout, play a sport, whatever you find relaxing, do it, and do it alone.
You need time for yourself. You need time with your spouse. Schedule in those times. They make all the difference.
There is hope because things do get better. Life as a mother is a beautiful thing. Remember that especially during the hard times.
Remember that you are not alone. Others go through this. It will get better and easier, so take a breathe and relax. You have people who care about you and want to help you, so let them help.
If you have any of these symptoms at all, then reach out to your doctor and get help. Talk to those around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are many helpful ways to deal with depression without medication as well that are great to start out with!
Helpful links and research:
Next check out the what to do after a miscarriage