Many women go through some ups and downs when they have a baby. Pregnancy and childbirth create a lot of change. New mothers may find themselves feeling overwhelmed, tired, tearful, and emotional. This can all be normal and expected, especially during the first few days and up to two weeks after birth. How, then, does a mother or her family know when the symptoms are more than early “baby blues” and indicate postpartum depression and the need for treatment from a professional?
timing of postpartum depression symptoms
One of the most important differences between “baby blues” and postpartum depression is the timing of the symptoms. If symptoms last longer then two weeks after the birth, postpartum depression should be considered. Learning about the timing of symptoms can mean the difference between someone getting help or not.
Sometimes women know they aren’t feeling like themselves but are told by friends, family, and even medical professionals that what they are experiencing is “normal,” even when the symptoms are present well after that two-week cut-off point. Unfortunately, this can cause things to get worse and can be dangerous in some situations. It’s also unfair to the mother to have to advocate for herself when she is in a tough place.
We also look at the severity of the symptoms and whether or not they are having a negative impact on the person’s life. A mother experiencing the blues might feel tired and overwhelmed but still feels like herself and can recognize that her feelings are temporary and that she will feel better with some rest and some time. Someone struggling with depression, however, might feel hopeless and like things will never be okay, or might have negative thoughts about themselves and their abilities as a mother.
Anger, irritability, and rage are other symptoms of postpartum depression. Seek professional help right away anytime a person has thoughts of harming themselves or someone else. Many people don’t realize that thoughts about not wanting to “be here” or “do this” anymore fall under self-harm and need attention. A lot of worry and scary, anxious thoughts are also common signs to watch out for, especially when the fears get in the way of a parent enjoying life and their baby.
If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of postpartum depression, anxiety, or other struggles, help is available. It’s important for parents to know that they aren’t alone and didn’t do anything to cause these symptoms. Working with a medical provider and a trained therapist who specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is always recommended, as is frequent screening by professionals. There is treatment, and there is hope.
For more information about resources in Arizona, visit https://psiarizona.org.