We have a taboo in our culture – mental health – and that means too many mothers give birth and never know the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety.
Your doctor might tell you to let them know if you feel depressed or sad, but considering you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster, you aren’t sure what you’re feeling.
One day, you feel elated to be alive and love your new bundle of joy. Everything feels perfect, but the next day, all you want to do is cry.
Determining what you’re feeling typically takes a few weeks as your hormones even out and start to return to pre-pregnancy levels. Gradually, you realize you don’t feel normal – you feel different.
Then, you start reading the lists of signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, and you aren’t sure if you fit the bill. Some of the terms are confusing, and do you REALLY feel that way or are you imagining it?
I felt all of this until I finally wanted to give in – quite literally – and realized that I needed to get help. We have to stop this taboo around PPD and PPA to help women recognize what they are feeling.
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What to Know about Signs of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
It’s important to talk about postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety; they are separate problems but sometimes overlap. It’s possible to have both or only one, but sometimes, the symptoms seem similar.
That’s why we are going to talk about each separately and how to tell the signs between each one.
One thing I want to point out is that you may not experience all of the symptoms listed below or even half of them. This is never a one size fits all; everyone is different.
In fact, my biggest problem was rage. I felt rage and anger more than ever before, but for many people, they’d never think that was linked with postpartum depression.
But it is.
Also, postpartum depression and anxiety are more than “bad” days. If you only feel this way once or twice a month, you don’t have PPD or PPA.
Women suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression experience symptoms for at least two weeks or longer, and these make it difficult to live the life they want.
10 Signs of Postpartum Depression
Let’s first look at the signs of postpartum depression that come from having a baby within the last 12 months.
1. You Feel Overwhelmed
It makes you feel as if you cannot be a mom, and it’s so hard that you’ll never be able to figure it out. The next thing you know, you wonder if you should’ve ever become a mother in the first place.
2. It Should Be A Lot Easier – Right
Why do you suck so bad at being a mom? Why can’t you pull yourself together?
Guilt sets in, and you start thinking that there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to handle this easier than you are right now. Your baby deserve better, and you’re failing him.
You start thinking your baby would be better off without you.
3. What’s Bonding?
I bet you’ve heard stories about the instant bond a mother feels with her baby and how it gradually gets deeper as the weeks go on.
Sure, you loved your baby at first sight, but that is that bond? You don’t feel that magical mommy bliss everyone talks about, and you sure don’t feel bonded to your baby.
“I couldn’t tell my husband that I loved my child when he asked. I honestly had no idea.”
4. Anger and Irritation at Max Level
This one of the signs of postpartum depression I felt the most.
Everyone made me want to rage; I felt out of control sometimes. Everything around me annoyed me. I felt resentment towards my husband, my baby, my other kids, and everyone.
I had zero patience left inside of me; I was angry all the time, and if you knew me before, you know I’m not an angry person.
This wasn’t me!
“I experienced pure rage, feeling like I needed and wanted help, but I refused to accept it.”
5. Sadness and Emptiness Take Over
You might not feel angry like I did. Instead, you may feel nothing – empty and numb. All you do is go through the daily motions of changing diapers, feeding your baby, and making sure everyone stays alive in the house.
You may feel so sad – sadness like you’ve never felt before. You cry all the time, even though you have no reason to be so sad.
Or, do you?
“I cried every single day, no matter if it was a good day or a bad day.”
“I’m not an emotional person in the slightest, but I cry over everything now.”
6. Food Issues
Women with PPD often experience issues with eating.
You may find that you are never hungry; you only eat because your partner is eating, and if you didn’t, they’d realize.
On the other hand, you may find that eating is the only thing that makes you happy, so you binge. You eat everything in sight, even though you don’t feel hungry.
7. Sleeping is Messed Up
We all know that bringing home a newborn is essentially asking for your sleep to be messed up, but postpartum depression makes that even more wonky.
Some women say that they find it impossible to sleep. Even when you keep waking up in the middle of the night with your baby, you can’t fall back to sleep.
On the other hand, you may find that all you want to do is sleep. You can’t stay away long enough to get things done throughout the day.
8. Focusing is Impossible
Depression often creates a sort-of brain fog that makes concentrating and focusing harder than ever.
You might feel like concentrating on anything is impossible, and you forget what you were supposed to be doing. Making decisions is impossible. It’s like you’re living in a fog land
This often makes you feel disconnected from others, like you’re standing apart from everyone else when you aren’t. It’s part of the depression fog.
9. You Can’t Figure Out Why You Can’t Kick This
Your baby is doing good, and you spend time exercising. Your kids are happy, and everything seems to be going “right.”
So, why can’t you get out of this funk? Why can’t you just snap out of it?
You know something is wrong, but you aren’t sure what’s happening.
Sometimes, women expect postpartum depression to look or feel different than it does, so you aren’t sure if you’re really experiencing PPD. You end up waiting and wondering what is happening instead of seeking help.
10. Everything Would Be Better if I Was Gone
Unfortunately, it’s not a rarity for women with postpartum depression to experience suicidal thoughts. You might start to wonder if your family would be better off without you.
So, you start thinking you should run away or take extra pills. If you feel this way, it’s a sign that you need help right now. Not tomorrow, not next week – right now. Trust me.
Call the Postpartum Support International if you need help!
1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) #1 En Español or #2 English
Text in English: 800-944-4773
Text en Español: 971-203-7773
Sometimes, women don’t feel suicidal thoughts, but they think people would be better off without them, especially their family. You might imagine leaving and never coming back, running away to some island or simply being alone.
“When I started to let my mind wander, I had thoughts about just walking away from it all.”
Other Signs of PPD
This list is not exhaustive of symptoms. You may experience other feelings, but these tend to be the ones that women notice the most
Here are some other signs of postpartum depression.
- You no longer have interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- You’ve withdrawn from loved ones.
- The mood swings you experience are wide, but you typically feel no joy.
- You might have persistent physical issues like headaches or an upset stomach.
6 Signs of Postpartum Anxiety
Postpartum anxiety is less common than postpartum depression, and some women even experience postpartum OCD. However, it’s important to know these signs and how to pinpoint what you’re feeling.
1. Your Thoughts are Wild
Do you feel like your thoughts are racing all over the place and a quiet mind is a distant past?
Postpartum anxiety means you can’t settle down, and it makes relaxing nearly impossible. You stress and overthink about everything.
2. Relaxing? No way!
If you feel like you have to be doing something all the time, you might have PPA. Many women say that it makes them feel like they have to be doing something all day.
Clean the house, wash laundry, wash bottles, play with the baby, feed the dogs, and more.
Relaxing cannot happen when your to-do list is forever long!
3. You Worry All The Time
You start worrying all the time about everything. It might start innocently – wondering if you’re doing a good job as a mom.
Then, you start wondering if your husband is going to crash on his way home from work. Maybe he’s cheating on you. Maybe your best friend really is talking behind your back.
You start to obsess, wondering if your baby is eating enough food and worrying that something may be wrong even though it all seems great.
What if you miss something?
The problem is that, no matter how many people try to reassure you, it doesn’t help you worry less.
4. Everything is Scary
You notice all of the dangers in your home more than ever before. That may lead you to obsess over turning off the oven or stove because you’re afraid of a house fire. You might worry that you or your child will fall down the stairs.
You may worry about everything your baby does. What if something is wrong and your baby is sick?
Your thoughts take over.
“Driving has become incredibly stressful. I have so much anxiety now behind the wheel of my car.”
5. You Feel Sick
Something that people don’t talk about enough is that anxiety can make you feel sick, even if it’s not postpartum anxiety. Anxious people note that they often feel sick or have strange symptoms that all connects back to their anxiety.
This can be quite concerning if you never had anxiety problems before.
Suddenly, you have stomach cramps, endless headaches, nausea, shakiness, panic attacks, and all sorts of other problems. This may lead you to think something is TRULY wrong, and then you start obsessing that something may be wrong with you.
6. Sleeping is Hard
One of the symptoms that also cross with depression is sleeping issues. Women with postpartum anxiety often feel as if they can’t sleep despite being so tired.
You aren’t sure why you can’t sleep, but following asleep is harder than never before.
If you notice that you have any of these signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, speak to your healthcare provider. Medication and therapy are two of the best ways to get yourself feeling normal once again.