Postpartum Mood Disorder: 3 ways to recognize that it might be you.
Up until the last few years mental/emotional issues you were having during the 1st year postpartum were considered postpartum depression or not related to the postpartum time at all. If you were to struggle with symptoms different from depression like anxiety, ocd tendencies, PTSD and/or angry outbursts, they would likely have been considered a whole seperate issue. Now after years of women coming forward and speaking openly about their postpartum struggles we know that any of these can be symptoms of what is now being refered to as Postpartum Mood Disorders. It is normal to have what has been called "Baby Blues" in the first couple weeks after delivery. This is a time when your horomones are making big drops and shifts from pregnancy and the feeling of random sadness and crying over the latest diaper commercial is commonplace. While that is considered normal, 15-20% of women will expereince sypmtoms worse than this and will need help to get through it. So what do you or your partner need to be looking out for and when does it cross over into something more serious?
1. Look out for a deepening saddness, anxiety about things that normally wouldnt bother you, insomnia or nightmares, even just general fatigue. Having a baby is exhausting but there should be moments of relief and enjoyment.
2. If you begin to have panic attacks or a constant feeling that something bad is going to happen, so much so that you begin to alter your life around them. Cleaning obsessively or repeating behaviors to insure you feel safe or clean. If you feel like you are struggling to bond with your baby, these can all point to something more going on.
3.Any of the symptoms of these conditions getting worse rather than better. If baby blues or the new mom jitters arent getting better you should begin a conversation with your partner and your health care provider. Sometimes just speaking outloud about what you are feeling can give you some peace and clarity as to the next steps.
All of these symptoms could point to any number of issues that can seriously affect the direction your postpartum time goes. Add a dose of guilt for not understanding why you feel this way and it can really take its toll. Finding help quickly can help you form a plan and get a better understanding of what you are going through. Getting help can get you on the road to some relief much faster than trying to go at it all alone.
Postpartum Support International is an amazing resource for understanding symptoms, online and telephone resources, facebook groups and finding a support locally. They have resources for whole families and can be a great encouragment to partners who are feeling lost and unable to help mom in the way that they want to. We are always a phone call or email away for you or anyone you know who feels lost or may be experiencing any of these symptoms.
Look out for next weeks blog on steps you can take to help and
survive the postpartum period.