It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether what you or a loved one is feeling is normal. Are you experiencing the “baby blues” or is it something more?
Postpartum mental health concerns are highly treatable, but the first step in recovery is diagnosis. Every year, at least 50% of cases of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, or postpartum psychosis go undiagnosed, leading new mothers to suffer without help or relief.
Treatment is available and it is effective. If you feel you are suffering from any of the symptoms below, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Serenity Recovery & Wellness or to your healthcare provider right away. Many mothers can begin feeling like themselves again in as little as two weeks with proper treatment.
Symptoms of the Baby Blues
The baby blues are classified as short-term, mild mood swings, anxiety, or fatigue that often occur after childbirth. It is often attributed to the huge change in hormones post-birth as well as the sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and recovery that come with having a new baby.
Baby blues are very common, affecting 70-80% of new mothers. They’re also not typically anything to worry about.
However, if symptoms last longer than two weeks, seem to be getting worse, or are impacting daily life, speak with a maternal mental health professional or your healthcare provider as it may be a sign of something more serious.
- Mild ups and downs
- Feelings of vulnerability
- Inability to concentrate
- Change in appetite
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a postnatal mood disorder that impacts as many as 1 in 5 mothers after child support. This condition typically manifests in mood swings, restlessness, frequent crying, hopelessness, or anxiety. It differs from the baby blues because symptoms are often more severe and do not subside after 1-2 weeks.
Postpartum depression can appear for up to a year after the baby is born. It is extremely treatable with 80% of mothers in treatment finding full relief from their symptoms. Many mothers begin feeling better in as soon as two weeks after treatment begins.
Common symptoms of postpartum depression may include any combination of the following:
- Mood swings
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Frequent crying
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased self-esteem
- Feelings of isolation
- Excessive worrying
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feeling incompetent or inadequate
- Lack of emotion
- Inability to form bond with baby
- Withdrawing from partner
- Suicidal or harmful thoughts
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety
Postpartum anxiety typically includes excessive worrying, racing thoughts, fear, or heightened anxiety in new mothers. While it’s common to feel a slight increase in worrying as you adapt to life with your new baby, symptoms that disrupt your daily routine, seem to be spiraling out of control, cause you heightened distress, last more than two weeks, negatively impact your relationships, or impact your quality of life, may be a sign of postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety can often be experienced in conjunction with postpartum depression, though it may sometimes be experienced as a standalone condition.
Like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety is treatable.
- Excessive fear & worry (worried your baby will get sick, eat something she shouldn’t, fall down the stairs, etc.)
- Ruminating or obsessive thoughts (“am I doing something wrong?” “is my baby breathing?” “is my baby eating enough?” “what if…?”)
- Inability to quiet your mind
- Racing, persistent thoughts & worries
Symptoms of Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder is classified by intrusive, disturbing thoughts and/or images of harm coming to the baby, as well as a sense of horror about having these thoughts. Mothers affected by this disorder typically experience a preoccupation with keeping the baby safe through repetitive actions to reduce fear and obsessions.
It’s important for both mothers and family to understand that while the thoughts of someone suffering from postpartum OCD are disturbing, most mothers experiencing this condition recognize their thoughts are bizarre and are very unlikely to ever act on them.
Postpartum OCD is temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from this illness, it’s important to recognize that you are not at fault or to blame. Reach out to a maternal mental health professional or to your health care provider for help relieving your symptoms
- Obsessions or persistent intrusive thoughts
- Compulsions, doing something over and over (needing to clean constantly, check things many times, count or reorder things)
- A sense of horror about the obsessions
- Fear of being left alone with the infant
- Hyper-vigilance in protecting the infant
- Know their thoughts are abnormal but may worry about sharing them with others
Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is perhaps the most dangerous of postpartum conditions, characterized by strange beliefs, hallucinations, irritability and agitation, inability to sleep, rapid mood changes, and poor decision making. Women with postpartum psychosis are typically not disturbed by their thoughts and do not find them unusual.
This condition is especially concerning because women suffering from postpartum psychosis are at a significant risk for harming themselves and/or their infants.
If you suspect you or a family member may be suffering from postpartum psychosis, it is essential to receive immediate crisis intervention. Contact your health provider right away or call Postpartum Support International (800) 944-4773.
- High levels of energy
- Inability to sleep
- Exhausted but cannot sleep
- Feel like you understand “everything” or like you’re functioning on a different level
- Seeing or hearing things that no one else does
- Believe that the radio, television, nature, or god is speaking directly to you
- Believe that you can’t trust people or have become suspicious of family or friends
- Afraid you will never get better or that the only way to get out of this is to commit suicide or abandon your family
- Feel like people are out to get you
- Believe that you or your infant or have some greater purpose, mission, powers, or have been possessed
- Don’t want to talk to anyone about it because you know they won’t understand
- You cannot remember how to do things you once did in the past
- You lose track of times
- You feel controlled by some outside force
- Feel like you’ve gone “crazy” or are frightened to death
- May have strange violent urges