If you or someone you know is struggling after giving birth, it may be a sign of postpartum depression. Learn the signs, symptoms and available resources to begin the healing process.
Having a new baby is said to be the happiest time of your life. But what if it’s not? What if you experience extreme sadness, crying, overwhelmed feelings or fears that your baby would be better off without you? What if you are scared your baby will stop breathing, so you stop sleeping to take up the watch? What if you have trouble bonding with your baby or feel like you made a mistake? This is the reality for 10-20 percent of women who develop a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) after the birth of a child. We talked to Caitlyn Wallace, LCSW – Renown Behavioral Health about how best to navigate this challenging time.
PMADs are a serious condition that can increase distress, crying, intrusive thoughts, and can make you feel like you are an unfit mom. PMAD is different than the “Baby Blues.” Almost 80 percent of new moms experience some mood swings and increased crying in the first two weeks after their baby’s birth. Much of this is related to a shift in hormones. The Baby Blues tend to resolve on their own within two weeks, with support from family and friends.
If the crying continues past the first two weeks, or increases over time, this could indicate a PMAD. You should speak to your doctor as soon as possible, and don’t leave until you feel heard. PMAD can be diagnosed anytime in the first year after a baby is born. This means many new moms may experience increased anxiety and depression but won’t associate their feelings with postpartum depression because their baby is older. Most obstetricians are able to screen for postpartum depression within the first year, and make a referral for appropriate care.
The most severe form of postpartum depression is known as postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is rare, with approximately .2 percent of women experiencing hallucinations, extreme mood swings and intense anger after birth. Postpartum psychosis is an emergency, and can put both the mother and baby at risk. It should be treated immediately.