Postpartum mental health
The continuum of perinatal mood disorders during pregnancy and after delivery ranges from "baby blues" to postpartum mood disorders and postpartum anxiety. The symptoms of both baby blues and postpartum depression include irritability, anxiety, crying, sadness and mood swings; although "baby blues" is more prevalent, the symptoms occur within the first few weeks after delivery, are less severe and most often do not require treatment other than self-care. PMAD’s can occur up to a year after delivery and the duration and intensity of the symptoms are more severe. PMAD’s most often requires treatment by a licensed professional or physician and getting proper treatment is essential for you and your babies’ well-being.
Please don’t feel shameful for sharing your experience and know that as many as 80% of new moms experience a change in their mental health after giving birth; myself included. Know that with help you will feel better.
It might be PMAD if you have one or more of these symptoms:
- Feel weepy and a sense of being overwhelmed for longer than 3 weeks after delivery
- Feel your symptoms are unbearable
- Are unable to sleep even though you are exhausted
- Want to sleep all the time or are sleeping more than usual
- Cry continuously
- Can’t enjoy your baby and don’t want to spend time with him or her
- Dramatic changes in appetite
- Have anxious or intrusive thoughts about baby being harmed
- Feel rage
- Withdraw from activities you normally enjoy
- Think about harming yourself or your baby
- Belief that your family would be better off without you or that you should not have become a mother
Below is a test you can take to assess whether you might be experiencing postpartum depression. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above please reach out for help ASAP.
Postpartum Support International has a FREE warm line that will also help in making appropriate referrals but is not for crisis situations.
1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) www.postpartum.net
Seleni Institute for Women's Mental Health www.seleni.org
In crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline FREE 24/7: