What is postpartum depression and anxiety?

Author: Kathy Cherven | Date: May 24, 2017

Having a baby is perhaps one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. From the time of the positive pregnancy test to delivery is filled with excitement and anticipation, especially when this is the first baby. Parents prepare the room, discuss names, attend baby showers, and may even have a “reveal” party.

It is really hard to anticipate what labor and delivery are going to be like, even though you’ve attended the Lamaze classes and practiced the breathing techniques. A mom’s vision of labor and delivery are right out of a book with the expectation that no meds will be needed nor any other challenges along the way and everyone will live happily ever after.

Sometimes visions don’t go as planned, whether there’s an unexpected C-section, needed pain meds, or maybe the baby was a preemie and in NICU. Maybe breastfeeding isn’t going well and mom is sleep deprived and not feeling the joy of having a baby.

These and more all are contributing factors in Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. There are so many transitions that can’t possibly be anticipated prior to giving birth and then when the baby comes home parents feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

This is quite normal and most moms and dads will adjust in time. For some though, the emotions are more intense and mom could be experiencing postpartum depression. There is a sense of being a bad mom to admit to PPD or anxiety. After all, none of your friends talk about or mentions PPD or anxiety, so there must be something wrong with you. Stigma, Stigma, Stigma!!!!!

It’s important to shatter the stigma and to reach out if you’re a mom struggling, or if you’re a friend and notice a mom struggling.

Since May is designated Perinatal Mood Disorder month, I want to address the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and to encourage new moms or friends and family of new moms to reach out and ask for help.

It is important to know the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues.

Signs & symptoms of the Baby Blues:

  • Affects 60-80% of new moms
  • Symptoms include crying, feeling overwhelmed, uncertainty, MILD
  • Acute sleep deprivation & fatigue
  • Tearfulness, reactivity
  • Predominant mood: happiness
  • Peaks 3-5 days after delivery
    Lasts no more than 2 days to 2 weeks

If you identify with any of the above, be assured that these reactions are temporary and will resolve on their own.

Signs & Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:

  • Sadness, crying
  • Unexplained physical complaints
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping).
  • Poor concentration/focus
  • Irritability and anger
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Guilt and shame
  • Lack of feelings toward baby
  • Inability to care for self or family
  • Loss of interest, joy, or pleasure
  • Anxiety, isolation, or mood swings.

These symptoms will not go away on their own and your OB/GYN needs to be notified immediately for evaluation and treatment.

Signs & Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety

  • Agitated, high alert, inability to sit still
  • Excessive concern of your or your baby’s health
  • Appetite changes or rapid weight loss
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping)
  • Constant worrying or racing thoughts
  • Shortness of breath or heart palpations.

 Other Perinatal Mood Disorders to be aware of:

  • Postpartum Panic Disorder
  • PTSD Due to Traumatic Labor and Delivery.

You can check out the signs and symptoms of above mentioned on www.postpartum.net.

In closing, I’m posting what you can do to help.

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