7 Postpartum Depression Signs Every New Mother Should Know
Many of us think that every new mother is elated by the arrival of her…
Many of us think that every new mother is elated by the arrival of her baby, and all the physical and emotional changes she is going through seem negligible compared to her joy. This notion is partly true as well as false.
While it may be so for many mothers, it may not be the same for everyone. A child’s birth involves many changes in a mother’s body, mind, financial condition, social situation, etc. All these factors can affect a new mother who may suffer from postpartum depression. Sometimes there is no reason at all, and some mothers don’t even understand that they have a mental condition. Some fathers also have postpartum depression.10-15% of New moms and about 10% of new dads have postpartum depression.
If you are a new parent and can relate to such sadness and loneliness, understand that you are not alone. Your problem is also not beyond help. In this article, we explain the seven significant signs of postpartum depression. If you notice one or more of these signs, get professional help immediately.
Sign 1: Overwhelming Sadness and Crying Spells
Have you heard of “baby blues”? Many new parents face anxiety, frustration, nervousness, sleeplessness, etc. This could result from changes in hormones, sleep patterns, lifestyle, etc. It is normal to have these baby blues. They usually pass in 2-3 weeks or latest in a month. But if the feelings persist and are accompanied by sadness, loneliness, and frequent crying spells, you may suffer postpartum depression.
The birth of a baby is a heart-warming and joyful event for a mother. Mothers are expected to have an all-consuming love for the little one as soon as she is born. Some of you might be surprised that this may not happen instantly with every mother. It often takes time for the mother and baby to bond. If you suffer from postpartum depression, you may feel a more extended period of detachment from your baby.
Sign 2: Extreme Fatigue and Lack of Energy
Feeling tired and lazy is natural after childbirth. But postpartum depression is accompanied by extreme fatigue and lack of energy. The things that may have interested you before would not feel exciting to you anymore. You may not feel like getting up from bed and getting on with the day.
This could also lead to detachment from your baby because the baby needs you to be up and about constantly. You will need to care for the baby while facing fatigue constantly. Such a situation could be frustrating for a new mother. These conditions could be because you are affected by postpartum depression and can be tackled with nutritious food and professional help.
Sign 3: Changes in Appetite and Weight
Have you slipped from heavy food cravings in the second and third trimesters to loss of appetite post-labor? Don’t worry- it is normal to have a shift in appetite. This is often attributed to the sudden drop in hormone levels. However, if you cannot have sufficient nutritious food and are losing weight even after a couple of months of delivery, you might be having a problem. This is also a sign of postpartum depression.
If you notice an unhealthy craving for food or drastic weight gain or weight loss, it could mean you have postpartum depression.
Sign 4: Difficulty Sleeping or Excessive Sleep
Sleep deprivation is an extension of pregnancy and the worst of all postpartum signs. Whether you are depressed or not, most new parents find it difficult to sleep at night because their sleep patterns are disrupted by the baby’s routine. But they also mostly quickly fall asleep whenever they get an opportunity because they are tired and sleepy. However, if you cannot sleep at all after several weeks, even when you have the time to, you may have postpartum depression.
Some depressed parents have the opposite effect. They sleep excessively and are not able to stay awake for long. Such disturbances in the sleep pattern could have a profound impact on the mother’s mental health. It becomes challenging to concentrate on anything. We also know that insomnia can affect anybody’s mood and temperament.
Sign 5: Feelings of Guilt, Worthlessness, or Inadequacy
The difficulty in bonding with your baby comes with a sense of guilt, worthlessness, or inadequacy. Rather than understanding that you may be depressed, you think the lack of attachment is your fault. If your baby is having a tough time sleeping or feeding, many mothers think that it is because they are doing something wrong. Very often when a new mom doesn’t have enough milk, she starts blaming herself and loses her self-esteem.
This becomes more like a loop where you think you are inadequate and, in turn, cannot bond with your precious little one. Such feelings also occur for no reason at all. A child’s birth changes the life of the parents a lot. When they find it hard to cope up with the sudden drastic change, they may feel worthless. But this is usually just a matter of time and will improve after a few weeks. Those who are depressed take longer to understand this feeling is not abnormal.
Sign 6: Loss of Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities
A general numb feeling and loss of interest in doing anything could point to postpartum depression. Mistaking one’s feelings to be baby blues, some new parents try to indulge in hobbies and activities that were previously enjoyable. If you are one of them and are not feeling any interest in the activities you are doing, you may be showing signs of postpartum depression. While in depression, parents find it hard to concentrate and often become indifferent to anything going around. Many new parents forget to care for themselves when they are new to parenthood. But even after being asked to care for yourself, if you cannot do so, you need help.
Sign 7: Thoughts of Self-harm or Suicide
In extreme cases of postpartum depression, new parents may have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Some moms think that they are incapable of taking care of their children and hence think of self-harm, probably to punish themselves.
There are also some cases when the parents think of hurting their child. Although they never do, this thought could take a severe hit on one’s mental health and put them into a vicious cycle of feeling of guilt and self-harm. If you are thinking of harming yourself or your baby at any instance, seek immediate professional help. You will never hurt your baby, but the feeling will push you into further depression. So, the best thing is to get expert assistance as soon as possible.
How to Help Yourself?
Postpartum depression is not beyond treatment. Most new parents start showing signs of depression from 1 to 3 weeks of childbirth. The sooner you take action to get it resolved, the better it is for you and your baby.
- A new parent must have a partner, a nanny, friends, or a family support system to give them the space to breathe and sort their thoughts. The caretakers also should be aware of these signs and communicate with the parent immediately.
- Psychotherapy is very effective in treating postpartum depression. Very often, all the new parent needs is someone to talk to. Find a professional who can listen to you and help you with counseling and therapy.
- Some doctors may prescribe antidepressants in case your condition demands medication. Please take such medicines only according to the instruction from your doctor.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can often help with your insomnia. Getting back your normal sleep is a relief in itself.
- Communicate with other new parents or parents who have been previously affected by postpartum depression. This could help you understand that your condition is treatable.
As we mentioned in this article, anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness, feeling of guilt, and self-harm after your child’s birth could be pointing toward postpartum depression. 10-15% of new mothers are said to show signs of postpartum depression. There is no reason to worry. However, if the signs are ignored, and the parent remains in a state of depression for much longer, it could lead to more severe issues. You need to have no shame for having postpartum depression or lacking attachment with your baby. All you need is some professional help as early as possible. Take care!