Dealing with Postpartum Depression

When people talk about having babies, we only focus on the fun parts. Yeah, we talk about diapers and sleepless nights, but as more of a mommy-badge than anything. The bottom line is, moms are supposed to do it all, and with a smile.

But becoming a mother doesn’t mean that you are no longer an individual, with strengths and weaknesses. And real life is not like Facebook or Instagram, where you can show the good parts and ignore the rest. Parenthood is messy. It’s exhausting. It can be overwhelming. And to top it all off, as you board the bullet-train to insanity, you are very likely recovering from the very physically demanding process of pregnancy, not to mention the birth itself.


All of these factors – the sleeplessness, the stress, the shock, and the drastic physical and hormonal changes that come with not being pregnant anymore — can cause dramatic emotional changes during your postpartum period. These may occur immediately, or they may be somewhat delayed. Some women never experience any of these issues, or only experience them in the mild form known as the baby blues; for others, these feelings can be overwhelmingly powerful.

If you experience the following, then you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression:

  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in appetite
  • overwhelming fatigue (the kind that sleeping doesn’t help)
  • feelings of guilt, anger, anxiety, or inadequacy
  • severe mood swings
  • trouble bonding with your baby
  • lack of desire to take care of your baby
  • withdrawal or lack of interest in people or activities that you once enjoyed
  • thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

The American Psychological Association estimates that between 9-16% of all postpartum women will develop some degree of Postpartum Depression—for women who have already experienced PPD with a previous pregnancy, the chances are more like 41%.

Some people also recognize Postpartum Anxiety as a separate diagnosis from Postpartum Depression, because not all women describe symptoms that match depression—some women find themselves dwelling on worst-case scenarios, worrying late at night, and growing irritable and anxious, among other symptoms. Postpartum Support International says that about 10% of new mothers will experience Postpartum Anxiety.

Postpartum Psychosis is the most frightening—and rarest—of the psychological complications that can arise during the postpartum period. Women who experience Postpartum Psychosis may experience delirium, confusion, hallucinations, and a strong desire to harm yourself or your baby—sometimes actually making attempts. Fortunately, Postpartum Psychosis is fairly rare, only affecting about 0.1% of postpartum women, and it usually manifests within the first few weeks postpartum (unlike Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, which may have a more delayed presentation).

There is good news, though. These conditions are all treatable, and don’t need to ruin your postpartum period. Because, left unchecked, they might. They can make both mama and baby very stressed, tense, and unhappy. They can prevent you and your little one from sleeping well, from eating right, and from enjoying each other.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? Be educated, and educate your friends and family. Be aware of the signs and symptoms, and have your loved ones be on the lookout as well. If you start to suspect that you may be suffering from one of the Postpartum conditions, seek help—don’t worry if you aren’t sure, or if you really aren’t that bad—better to nip it in the bud. Don’t let it take root.

Help is out there.

You are not alone.

And because every mother deserves to hear this again and again: You are a good mom. You are a strong mom. You are a wise mom. And your child is lucky to have you.

So take care of yourself, for both of your sakes.

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