Bringing a new person into the world is exhausting, emotional, and, at times, overwhelming – it’s hard, but it’s not supposed to be a torment. If you feel like you’re losing your mind, though, or you feel miserable, resentful, and worried more often than not, you’re most likely suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), and deserve, and likely need some help.
Postpartum depression can range from mild to severe with symptoms including anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, and crying spells, as well as problems with sleep and appetite. When symptoms last 24 to 72 hours, they can be checked off as short-term “baby blues.” More than two weeks, though, may indicate serious PPD.
Severe PPD can interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with or care for her baby. A small fraction of new mothers, sadly, suffer from postpartum psychosis, a scary and disorienting state that can bring on obsessive thoughts and hallucinations as well as paranoia and delusions.
Common Symptoms of PPD
1. Feeling guilty: You feel like you should be doing better at handling parenting, your emotions and feelings, and should be behaving differently.
2. Lack of reassurance: You feel overwhelmed, sad, or anxious more often than not. Instead of comforting you, reassurance feels like you’re being lied to.
3. Escape fantasies: This goes beyond joking about getting away from it all for a bit in Jamaica. Instead, you fantasize about driving away and never returning because you feel that your family would be better off without you.
4. Feeling overwhelmed: With postpartum depression, you don’t just feel overwhelmed at particularly difficult moments, but most or even all of the time. You feel as if you’re not cut out to be a mom and that having a baby was a terrible mistake.
5. Questioning your love for your baby: This extends beyond taking a long time to bond, which is normal. Instead, you don’t feel affection for your baby, you don’t want to look at or take care of her or him.
6. Feeling inadequate: You worry you aren’t a good enough parent. You are incapable, your baby will be harmed or stunted forever, and it will be your fault.
7. Anger and irritability: You snap at the baby, at your partner, or anyone who comes near you. You may resent your baby for putting you through this experience or taking away your free time and fun.
8. Feelings of being a fraud: You feel you’re not fit to be a mother and your baby knows it. He or she doesn’t like you, doesn’t love you, and even resents you for being “crazy” and crying all the time.
9. Feelings of wanting to commit harm: In extreme cases: you might feel like you “can’t take it anymore” and that it would be best if you end your life or that of your baby.
Postpartum depression is more than just the “baby blues”. It can develop before giving birth or even well after. It’s okay if you’re experiencing any of these PPD symptoms. What’s important is that you’re aware of it, you know there are plenty of resources available to you, and most importantly, that you ask for help in overcoming it.
You and your newly created loved one can and will get through this, with the right help.