Too often, mental distress during pregnancy and postpartum goes unreported, unrecognized and unresolved. Women and men don’t want to talk about the unpleasant parts of parenting. They are afraid of the stigma of mental illness or attribute their distress to caring for a newborn. Family members either don’t recognize there is a problem or don’t know how to respond. Doctors are often untrained and under-resourced when it comes to mental health.
Without some sort of support, postpartum depression and anxiety will likely not simply “go away.” Rather, it can worsen over time and be even worse with subsequent pregnancies and births. Postpartum depression and anxiety can impact development of older children and infants. Relationships between parents and children are negatively impacted when postpartum depression go untreated. With some basic information, pregnant and postpartum families and the people they interact with will be better able to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety so they get the help that they need.
You are not alone. Postpartum depression and anxiety are the primary complication of childbirth. One in 7 women experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after giving birth. That is almost 30% of moms. This is a significant number.
Dads are affected too. One in 10 Dad experiences depression during and after pregnancy. For Dads, postpartum depression may show up as irritability, isolating, working too much, or drinking too much alcohol.
Postpartum depression and anxiety don’t always happen right after birth. The truth is, depression and anxiety can begin during pregnancy and anytime up to one year after birth. Understanding the risk factors, signs and symptoms is key to beginning to resolve distress.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety are separate, yet sometimes similar issues.
Signs of Postpartum Depression include:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbance
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
From Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/depression-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
Signs of Postpartum Anxiety include
- Constant worry
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Disturbances of sleep and appetite
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
From Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety-during-pregnancy-postpartum/
Moms with Postpartum Depression are NOT dangerous. Postpartum depression and anxiety can be terrifying. Some of the thoughts and images that may happen during this type of depression or anxiety are down right awful. Anytime the media reports of a mom hurting her infant, postpartum depression is mentioned. However, there is a clear distinction between depression and anxiety postpartum and postpartum psychosis. 1 in 1000 postpartum moms will suffer with psychosis. Of these, a handful think of harming their infant. Psychosis is a break with reality. Someone experiencing psychosis may see, hear and feel things no one else does. Postpartum psychosis requires medical attention. This is an emergency and must be responded to immediately. If you know someone who may be suffering from postpartum psychosis, please contact a medical professional or call 911.
You will get better. Postpartum depression and anxiety are treatable. Support can come in the form of community groups, talking with family or friends, online support groups, peer support, professional counseling or medication. Often, peer and group support are sufficient for recovery.
If you or someone you care about may be struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, Postpartum Support International is a great resource. Find them here: www.postpartum.net
I have specialized training in Perinatal Mental Health. And, invite you to contact me for a free consultation if you would like professional support.