The months after you welcome your new bundle of joy into the world should be a time filled with joy, smiles, and mother-baby bonding. In reality, however, whether you are a new parent or welcoming a second, third, or tenth baby into your family, the months after a new baby arrives can be full of uncertainty, new challenges, and new stresses. It is common for mothers to face moments of stress, frustration, and even cry a time or two while balancing their new responsibilities and ensuring their new baby is healthy and happy. However, if you find that you feel irrationally frustrated, angry, or resentful of your baby and are struggling to bond with them, it may be time to talk to your doctor about the possibility that you are suffering from postpartum depression.
What is Post-Partum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that women experience after they give birth. Unlike a bad day or week, postpartum depression can last for months or longer and become so severe that it becomes debilitating, making it difficult for you to care for your baby or yourself properly.
If you have recently given birth and are experiencing most of the following 17 common symptoms of postpartum depression, talk to your doctor or OBGYN.
What are the Signs of Post-Partum Depression?
Women who experience postpartum depression often describe the following symptoms:
- Depression or hopelessness
- Severe mood swings
- Periods of extreme, inexplicable anger or frustration
- Excessive crying
- Extreme fatigue
- Insomnia, or excessive sleep
- Severe anxiety or panic attacks
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family, friends, and responsibilities
- Difficulty with decision-making or focus
- Lost interest in hobbies and activities
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Extreme fear of not being a good mother that may cause avoidance of motherly duties or interactions with your baby
- Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, or worthlessness
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
When to Talk to Your Doctor
If you fear you may not be a perfect mother and find yourself tearful or frustrated at times as you learn to fulfill the needs of your new baby, you should know that “baby blues,” a period of frustration and anxiety in the immediate few days or weeks after your baby is born, are very common—particularly for first-time moms. Seek the support and guidance of your partner and family and friends, especially those who are parents and can empathize with your concerns.
If your depression persists or interferes with your ability to care for or bond with your baby, make an appointment to talk to your doctor. If you are having thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or have thought of harming your baby, please seek immediate support from a medical professional. You can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at any time of the day or night at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).