While for most families bringing a baby home is a joyous occasion, even for them it is stressful and a difficult period of adjustment. We idealize having a baby as a singularly happy thing to happen to a family but in reality, most couples and families have plenty of adjusting to do when there is a new member to their group. That’s normal. In this blog, we’d like to help you distinguish when the difficulties of adjustment go further and mom (or other caretakers) start to suffer mood problems that go beyond normal and deserve specialized attention and help which we would like to offer you at Counseling Near Me!
Postpartum Depression vs Baby Blues
Roughly, 85% of mothers will experience the baby blues. Baby blues is a passing period of sadness, irritability, and/or anxiety subsiding significantly in about a month. Sometimes mothers are hard on themselves during this period believing that they should feel blessed and happy. But becoming a mother is a process – not complete at the birth of your child.
Psychologically, it is difficult for a family of 2 to become a family of 3. There is a drain on time, energy, and money. Pregnancy and birthing, not to mention nursing, or even just feeding an infant are super demanding. Some new families don’t have the support of their extended families making this season even harder. But if the depressed mood (sadness, irritability) or the anxiety (intrusive thoughts) persist and become increasingly distressing, it may be postpartum depression or anxiety.
Postpartum depression is defined as depressive symptoms lasting for more than two weeks and can start anytime from the birth of the baby to the baby’s first birthday. Depression diagnosed during pregnancy is prenatal depression and any depression diagnosed during pregnancy or up to the baby’s first birthday is considered perinatal depression. Unlike hormonal-related changes during pregnancy or the baby blues perinatal, depression is more serious and lasts longer
If this is happening to you; you are not alone. It is the most common complication for women after childbirth with about 15% of all women experiencing postpartum depression. For about half of all women diagnosed with postpartum depression, it will be their first time experiencing depression. 1 in 7 will have symptoms of postpartum depression. Dreadfully, suicide and overdosing are two of the top contributing causes of maternal mortality. Furthermore, when moms struggle with mental health conditions, it can impair the mother-infant relationship which can lead to behavioral, cognitive, and emotional impacts on the mother, the child, and the family system. The good news is help is possible and most mothers can get through post-partum depression with therapeutic support.
Assessing Postpartum Depression
If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with any of the following please follow up with your healthcare provider or a therapist immediately.
Changes in your feelings
- Feelings of depression most of the day, every day. Depressed feelings can be those of feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless.
- Mood swings; depression or irritability could be followed by times of feeling productive or on top of things.
- Experiencing fear or panic that impact your ability to function.
- Feelings of shame and guilt.
Changes to your everyday life
- Feeling tired most of the time and/or having trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much. This is separate from the new baby tired, it is more like you’ve maybe gotten some sleep but never feel rested. Having trouble sleeping even when exhausted.
- Changes in eating, wanting more or less food. Which could result in gaining or losing weight.
- Struggle to concentrate or make decisions.
- Losing interest in things that you used to engage in or at least have interest in.
Changes in your view of self or your view of baby
- Trouble bonding or connecting with baby; feeling like you can’t get anything right.
- Feeling like your baby or family would be better off without you.
- Wanting to distance yourself from your baby or those around you.
- Wanting to hurt the baby or yourself.* (emergency)
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of the above systems for approximately 2 weeks and/OR they are causing marked distress to the mother, child, or family system please reach out to a healthcare provider. At Counseling Near Me, we work to get postpartum clients in within 24 hours of reaching out! *Wanting to hurt the baby or yourself is an emergency condition; contact your medical provider immediately.
It’s not just mothers that can experience postpartum depression; fathers and non-birthing partners can also experience similar symptoms.
How to Support Someone with Postpartum Depression
- Support them in reaching out to their healthcare provider. For over half of all women with postpartum depression, it will be their first time experiencing depression.
- Think of ways to support your family and take responsibility off them. Depression can often cause someone to feel overwhelmed by childcare responsibilities.
- Listen to how they are feeling without judgment. Mothers who struggle with mental health during the perinatal period often feel shame and guilt about their feelings. They did not do anything wrong and most of all want to be able to be loving, nurturing, and attentive parents.
- Take action immediately. If mom makes comments about self-harm or is fantasizing out loud about hurting the baby; she needs immediate help. Call your physician.
Counseling for Postpartum Depression in Raleigh, North Carolina
The first step in addressing postpartum depression is reaching out for help. Give us a call or schedule an appointment and begin your healing journey today.