Becoming a mother is one of the biggest life transitions you will experience! For some women this can create a mix of emotions including joy, sadness and worry. You may struggle with loss of your identity or feel overwhelmed with your new role. 80% of women will experience the “baby blues” which typically begins within days of childbirth or adoption and resolves on its own within two weeks. Women with the “baby blues” may experience mild mood changes, tearfulness, feel overwhelmed and/or have trouble sleeping or eating. The “baby blues” is NOT the same as postpartum depression or anxiety.
Postpartum depression is the most common complication following childbirth. Symptoms of a pregnancy or postpartum mood disorder can start at any time during pregnancy or the first year postpartum and may include: • Feeling overwhelmed, worried or panicky • Feeling irritable or anger towards the people you care about • Feeling sad, tearful or hopeless • Persistent feelings that you’re not a good mom • Wondering if you should feel more of a bond with your baby • Difficulty sleeping because you can’t “shut your brain off” • Feeling numb or empty and wondering if you’ll ever feel like your “old self” again If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they last longer than two weeks you may have a postpartum mood disorder. Other postpartum disorders include postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD, bipolar mood disorders and postpartum psychosis. Postpartum mood disorders affect women of every age, socioeconomic group, culture and race. Some risk factors include: - A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, OCD or bipolar disorder - Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS) - Lack of emotional and/or financial support - Childhood trauma - A traumatic birth - Difficulty in pregnancy or breastfeeding - Relationship stress - Recent significant loss - Having multiples - Having a “high needs” baby - Having gone through treatment for infertility - Women with a thyroid imbalance or any form of diabetes If you believe you are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder you are not to blame and it doesn’t mean you are a bad mom! Our therapists are trained to diagnose and treat postpartum mood disorders including postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD. You don’t need to suffer in silence- postpartum mood disorders are treatable with professional help. It is important to differentiate between postpartum depression and psychosis. A woman experiencing postpartum depression is in touch with reality while a women experiencing postpartum psychosis is not. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but extremely series mental health condition. Women who experience postpartum psychosis experience a break from reality. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, extreme irritability, decreased need for sleep, hyperactivity and/or severe mood swings. The most common risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, or a previous psychotic episode. In most cases, a woman experiencing postpartum psychosis does not know she is having a psychotic episode as the delusions and/or hallucinations appear real to her. If you are worried someone you care about may have postpartum psychosis you need to help her seek immediate treatment by calling 911 or taking her to the nearest emergency room.