Many new moms feel happy one minute and sad the next. If you feel better after a week or so, you probably just had the “baby blues.” If it takes you longer to feel better, you may have postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can make you feel restless, anxious, fatigued and worthless. Some new moms worry they will hurt themselves or their babies. Unlike the “baby blues,” postpartum depression does not go away quickly. Very rarely, new moms develop something even more serious. They may stop eating, have trouble sleeping and become frantic or paranoid. Researchers think that changes in your hormone levels during and after pregnancy may lead to postpartum depression.
Pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders affect the family. There is no magic cure, and sometimes recovery seems slow, but things will keep improving if you stick to a plan of healthcare, support, and communication. Unfortunately not all of us have this support and not all partners or family members know how to provide it. A new mother might not recognize depression or anxiety because she is tired, overwhelmed, or simply adjusting to life with a baby. If you know someone or you are experiencing any of the following symptoms please let someone know. Whether it’s a family member or a practitioner, just TELL SOMEONE!
- 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
I believe it is as important for the father/partner to be informed of this incredibly difficult mental disorder. For fathers it may become critical to learn effective ways to communicate with their partners. With decreased self-esteem, guilt and sadness a mother is going to have difficulty communicating. Some fathers make the following statements:
- You’ll get over this
- It wont be this way forever or This will pass.
- If you just put your mind to feeling better you will.
- We have a beautiful baby, you should be happy.
- All of the other mothers don’t look like they’re having such a hard time.
These things might be said in an effort to be supportive or make the mom feel better but to someone with PPD it sounds like “Your feelings are wrong” and “You’re a bad mother.” If you really want to help someone with PPD try the following:
- Dont judge
- Dont tell her she needs medication
- Give her time to self-care
- Gently encourage her to find support
- Find support for yourself
- Get professional help early on
I have gone through this twice now and its something that I continue to battle with. With time it has gotten better but if I had the support I needed or was as informed about this as I am now I know it would have made a world of a difference.