One of the things that we cannot prepare ourselves for when we become a mother is dealing with postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. We tend to deny that there’s something more to what we’re feeling because as mothers, we expect so much from ourselves and we think that maybe we can deal with it later on because right now, our priority is our baby.
First, it’s important to acknowledge that you are not alone in this and that so many moms go through the same thing -- that this is not just a “mind over matter” thing that we can simply brush off.
While postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety can go hand in hand, not everyone experiences both at the same time. Here are some telltale signs that may give us a clue on what we’re going through and how we can get help.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects moms after childbirth. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness, or being overwhelmed or worried about our babies are normal, but once it gets too much to the point that it hinders us from functioning or we experience sudden bouts of these negative feelings or cry too often for no apparent reason, it might be because we’re experiencing postpartum depression. Some of the usual symptoms are:
- Moody, irritable, or restless. It’s difficult to focus on a task or topic.
- Oversleeping or unable to sleep
- Eating too much or not having the appetite at all
- Difficulty in making decisions or remembering details
- Completely losing interest in things we usually enjoy doing
- Withdrawing from our partners, our family, and our friends
Postpartum anxiety, while usually related to postpartum depression, can be diagnosed separately from it. Not everyone who goes through postpartum depression develops postpartum anxiety and vice versa, and distinguishing between the two is important to determine the kind of treatment or help that we need.
Worrying about our kids or if we are doing enough as moms is normal. It becomes alarming when these thoughts become constant throughout the day that it deters us from doing or thinking of anything else. Sometimes we already recognize that we’re having these irrational fears but out of shame, we tend to keep it within ourselves. Other symptoms of postpartum anxiety are:
- Difficulty in sleeping or eating because we’re constantly worried about something
- The constant feeling that something bad will happen
- Racing, intrusive thoughts
- Physical manifestations could be dizziness or nausea
- It can also lead to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) where we take repetitive actions, thinking that it will reduce our fears
- Distress or irritability
- Fear of being alone with our baby or strong, sudden impulse to protect them
It is not easy to go through either postpartum depression or anxiety and it’s one of the many challenges that we go through as moms. However, we have to remember that in order to do our role well, we also have to take a step back, reassess ourselves, acknowledge when something isn’t going right. Support from our partners, families, and friends are important, but so is seeking professional help. This way, they can help you define what you’re going through and recommend treatment: either counseling or medication, and also help educate the people around you so you will have a strong support system when you need it most.
Mommas, there is no shame in seeking help. Always remember that you are not alone in this.