In the spirit of May being National Maternal Depression Awareness month I figured I would talk a little bit about some of the symptoms that you probably know about and some that you might not. Before you say to yourself ” what the heck Laura! you haven’t written in a month and now this is what you spring on us” stay with me! This is important stuff people! Important for everyone, not just moms or moms-to-be. It’s important for all the people around a mom to be aware of the symptoms. So what is postpartum depression and how is it different from “the baby blues”.
What we all commonly refer to as “baby blues” is a result from hormonal changes and can last up to 2 weeks. There may be some periods of tearfulness but it passes. There may be some mood fluctuations and irritability but they are manageable. With baby blues you are typically looking at a return to “baseline” within two weeks. Not that mom is 100% but that these symptoms are decreasing or improving.
Postpartum depression can actually start DURING pregnancy as well as anytime in the first year of baby’s life. I know. Fun. The symptoms may include:
- crying and sadness
- insomnia or hypersomnia ( sleeping too much)
- feelings of shame, guilt, hopelessness
- changes in appetite
- lack of interest in baby
- thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- irritability and anger
- loss of interest
Any of these surprise you? For me, anger and irritability are big. With both of my girls I had it. I remember with my first, she was about one year old, thinking to myself “God, I am just SO angry” at nothing in particular but just at the world. Same thing with number too – although my anger was much more pronounced. And sadness was only there because I felt bad about the anger!
Ok here comes the kicker – fathers and partners can get postpartum depression too. Symptoms can look similar to mom’s. A lot of the complaints I hear in couple’s sessions regarding the non child-bearing partner are “he’s not even interested in the baby” and “he’s just so angry all the time”. For me, those are big red flags that dad or partner may be suffering from postpartum depression.
And a lot of time fathers are not getting help! The stats for dads is like 1 in 10 will have postpartum depression! That’s a lot of fathers not getting help. Fathers are especially at risk if the mother is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder.
If you think that you or your partner may be suffering from a postpartum mood disorder seek help! Postpartum support international can direct you to therapists and support groups. If you are in Connecticut, there is a CT Chapter of PSI which will provide you with specific locations for groups. If it is not an emergency, please feel free to contact me! I am happy to chat with you and let you know if I think you would benefit from therapy.
Depression Symptoms courtesy of Postpartum Support International