What does it feel like to have postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety? What are the signs or symptoms? How do you know when you have it? And if you do have it, what should you do?
Below we will explain the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, but in what we call “plain mama English.” We won’t use words like hypomania or dysthymia—the kind of confusing terms you might see elsewhere. We will use the words thousands of other moms have used who have already been through this. Words that make sense. After that, we’ll give you some links to some really helpful resources and information. You are not alone. Here at Postpartum Progress we understand and we’re happy to help.
When you read the two different symptoms lists below, one for postpartum depression and the one after itfor postpartum anxiety and OCD, please remember a few very important things:
- You may not be experiencing all of the symptoms listed below or even most of them. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not “one-size-fits-all” illnesses. Your experience may include just a few of the symptoms and you may not have others at all.
- Many people have a feeling like the ones listed below every now and then, for a day or two. We all have bad days. Postpartum depression and anxiety are not just bad days. Women with PPD or anxiety have symptoms like these most of the time, for a period of at least 2 weeks or longer, and these symptoms make it feel very hard to live your life each day.
- Postpartum depression and anxiety are sometimes “comorbid.” This means you can have a bit of both, or all of both. If you have symptoms on both lists, that’s not unusual.
Okay. Here we go. You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:
- You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
- You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
- You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
- You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
- You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
- You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
- You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
- You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
- You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
- You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
- You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.
- You feel disconnected….
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