Having a baby is often one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life. You have waited nine months to see your new baby. You have planned every detail, documented every step of the pregnancy, and have celebrated the impending arrival of the baby with friends and family. You have finally given birth, and the doctor is bringing you the baby you have waited—for what seems like forever—to have. You take your baby in your arms, and something doesn’t feel right. The excitement has now turned into sheer anxiety, a deep depression, or simply apathy toward your baby and parenthood. This was not how you planned it. Where is the excitement? Where is the overwhelming love?
These feelings, or lack of feelings, are nothing new, and millions of new mothers—and even some new fathers—experience them. Commonly referred to as the baby blues, postpartum depression was once a taboo subject for new mothers to discuss, for fear of being shamed and ridiculed. However, by recognizing the signs and seeking help early, you and your therapist can develop a plan that will work for you.
What Are The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
One of the signs that something may not be right with your postpartum mental health is an overwhelming sense of anxiety and/or depression you may feel upon seeing your newborn baby. This type of postpartum depression and anxiety is one of the more severe forms, known as postpartum psychosis, which appears suddenly. However, for most women (and men), the signs of postpartum depression usually appear gradually.
Having a baby is no easy task; it takes time and energy, and so does raising that baby. Sometimes you may find yourself more exhausted than you have ever been before. A baby screaming at all hours—and society’s expectations that you still perform the tasks you were previously doing before you had a baby—can lead anyone to feel fatigued. However, when that fatigue becomes constant and is coupled with irritability, insomnia, irregular mood swings, and the inability to take care of yourself or your child, you may need to seek help from a mental health professional. Never ignore the signs and symptoms, no matter how small, because they can grow and become more difficult to resolve.
Where Can I Find Help?
Recognizing that you may have a form of postpartum depression can be a daunting realization. Many feel as though they have failed at being a parent. You are supposed to be happy, but you aren’t. However, you are not alone; one in nine new mothers in the United States will develop postpartum depression. There is no definitive known cause, and you have done nothing wrong to feel this way. You might be at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression if you have a history of clinical depression, anxiety, or a hormonal imbalance; or if you have a family history of postpartum depression. Realizing that something may be wrong is the first step toward getting help.
Luckily, the stigma surrounding postpartum depression has diminished greatly, and more and more parents are seeking help. You can find help from friends and family, and you can turn to those who have experienced the same feelings after childbirth. There are even support groups for those with postpartum depression. You may also find that talking with a mental health professional can also be beneficial. Talking with a therapist can help you through the emotions and thoughts that you may be having. A trained professional can also suggest a few coping strategies that can help you develop a more positive outlook on parenthood.
Concerns surrounding your mental health after having a baby are common but not to be taken lightly. It is important that you talk to those you trust and never be afraid to seek help. Contact Keri Powell Therapy today to find out how one of our trained mental health professionals can help you to better experience the joy of parenthood.