The first year of your baby's life can be full of joy and love. But when you have a newborn and are struggling with Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, things can feel like they are out of control. Many mamas often hear (or say to themselves), "It's just a phase... things are hard right now, but it will pass." But what about when it doesn't pass? Or when those word just aren't soothing.
Before we get into discussing the symptoms, I want to highlight something important. The thoughts and feelings associated with these mental disorders are normal feelings. Its normal to feel concerned about your baby getting enough sleep, enough to eat, feeling exhausted and even angry. Being a mother is hard, thankless work and we all reach our limits sometimes.
What's challenging is when they stick around to the point of becoming unmanageable (longer than 2 weeks is the DSM 5 criteria for a Postpartum Mood Disorder). None of this makes you a bad mom. I'm going to say that again; having any of the symptoms below does NOT mean you are a bad mom or that your child will be forever damaged by your actions or emotions. All mamas are doing their best. It's not hopeless or untreatable; and it is important to know when to ask for more support.
Below are common experiences and symptoms of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. Hopefully they can help you gauge where you fall on the spectrum and help you know what the next step is for you. And if you're the partner of a new mom, these are very useful things to know too. It is often the partner who is first able to ask others for help.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety:
Some of the symptoms of PPD and PPA overlap. So what's important here is not distinguishing between the two, but rather - if you read over those symptoms and are experiencing more than 3 items listed, you could use some extra support! I encourage you to be brave and be an example to your child of breaking through the taboo around asking for help. You are a strong mama who knows what she needs, even if what you need is help knowing what you need!
The American Psychological Association estimates that 1 in 7 woman who give birth will experience Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. A smaller number of moms, 2 our of every 1,000 PPD cases, experience Postpartum Psychosis. All of these mental illnesses are serious and can be life threatening, but are treatable and manageable with help. If you are scared for your safety or the safety of your baby, please take action immediately.
If you are in crisis, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
If you are looking for more support, Postpartum Support International has a warm-line and can connect you to area coordinators : 1.800.944.4773
*This post was originally published by Mallika Bush, LMFT on March 18, 2017 on www.mallikabush.com. Mallika is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with offices in Berkeley and San Fransisco, CA.
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Jennifer Howard, LPC
I am passionate about helping tired moms thrive and healing the stigma of postpartum distress and mood disorders. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (Virginia/DC) and Nationally Certified Professional Life Coach specializing in perinatal mental wellness, marriage/partnership strength and infant sleep and soothing.
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