1 in every 7 women experience postpartum depression.
Take a moment to think of 7 moms in your life who you love and know well. Consider that at least 1 of them may have (or had) postpartum depression.
To illustrate the stat further, I recently presented at a mom support group of at least 50 women. I remember pausing to imagine that at least 7 women in that room were experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.
It always stops me in my tracks when I pause long enough to think about how many women are affected.
What’s even more distressing is that postpartum depression often goes undiagnosed and is consequently left untreated. More than half of women with postpartum depression do not get treatment.
Consider the 7 women with postpartum depression in the support group I mentioned above. At least 4 of them aren’t getting help.
That’s 4 women who are struggling in silence, while desperately trying to manage their lives, without getting the help they need.
What Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Looks Like
There’s a lot of confusion about postpartum depression. The media often misrepresents postpartum depression (Andrea Yates, for example), which makes most want to distance themselves from the illness.
A stigma exists, and there’s also a sizable lack of information contributing to the confusion.
By exposing more to the face of postpartum depression and its symptoms, women can find their voice to speak up, reach out, and stop living in silence.
And when you’re informed, you’re more empowered to get help.
When you know better you do better. — Maya Angelou
So, here are 8 common postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms. I’m intentionally including both depression and anxiety as they often occur together. And while one, a few, or all, of these may describe how you’re feeling, keep in mind that this isn’t the end-all list for postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms.
1. Are you constantly second guessing or worrying over your actions?
This may look like endless worry over every single action of yours. You’re questioning whether you burped your baby correctly. You can’t stop worrying about whether you’re feeding your baby enough. You find yourself questioning whether you’re doing anything right.
2. Do you wish you could just return to the “old” you?
Maybe you’re not feeling like yourself. Or maybe you see the new mom you’ve become is less happier than the old person you once were.
3. Do you have feelings of emptiness inside? Or feel hopeless?
Many mention feeling empty, lost, or hopeless. They also talk about feeling hopeless that they will ever feel like themselves again.
4. Are you struggling with insomnia (either having trouble falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night and unable to fall back to sleep)?
You may feel exhausted but you’re struggling to sleep. Or all you can and want to do is sleep. This is one of those symptoms that varies greatly from one woman to the next.
5. Are you suffering with feelings of guilt or shame because you feel like you’re a “bad mom” or not “good enough?”
You may find yourself grappling with guilt over not being able to “snap out of it.” Or you’re dealing with guilt about your depression keeping you from being present and engaged with your baby and family.
6. Do you have racing thoughts or are you unable to “relax your mind?”
Your mind jumps from one thing to the next and you can barely keep up with your thoughts. You also may have trouble quieting your mind to sleep – hence the insomnia (see number 4 above)
7. Are you annoyed and irritable most of the time? Perhaps throwing or kicking things?
Sometimes postpartum depression is expressed through anger (vs. the sadness and tearfulness many associate with being depressed). Anger can be reflected through irritability, which can look like losing your temper with your spouse/kids by yelling or snapping at them.
8. Are you having trouble concentrating long enough to complete a task?
Postpartum depression can impact your memory and ability to focus. So, you attempt to start a task and suddenly can’t remember what it is you’re supposed to be doing. Or you start the dishes and before you know it you’re pulled to start mopping the floor while also feeling the urge to sort through the mail.
If any of these sound like you, there’s a possibility that you have postpartum depression or anxiety. I strongly encourage you to reach out and seek professional help from your OBGYN or a therapist.
If you believe you’re experiencing postpartum depression, know that you don’t have to suffer in silence! Contact me for a private consultation.