Depression or anxiety after pregnancy and in the first year postpartum is very common. Changes to your body, less sleep, and worries about caring for your newborn can make you feel a mix of emotions which is normal. One in five women will experience symptoms after pregnancy, and it can happen to anyone.
Six things everyone should know about perinatal depression
It is, in fact, the number one complication of pregnancy. In the US, 15% to 20% of new moms, or about one million women each year experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and some studies suggest that number may be even higher. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Perinatal depression can affect any woman regardless of age, income, culture or education.
- Feelings of sadness
- Mood swings: highs and lows, feeling overwhelmed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Panic attacks, nervousness, and anxiety
- Excessive worry about your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Fearing that you can't take care of your baby
- Feelings of guilt and inadequacy
- Difficulty accepting motherhood
- Irrational thinking; seeing or hearing things that are not there
Some of the ways women describe their feelings include:
- I want to cry all the time.
- I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster.
- I will never feel like myself again.
- I don’t think my baby likes me.
- Everything feels like an effort.
Baby blues, a normal adjustment period after birth, usually lasts from 2 to 3 weeks. If you have any of the listed symptoms, they have stayed the same or gotten worse, and you’re 5 to 6 weeks postpartum, then you are no longer experiencing baby blues, and may have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.
You are not a weak or bad person. You have a common, treatable illness. Research shows there are a variety of risk factors that may impact how you are feeling, including your medical history, how your body processes certain hormones, the level of stress you are experiencing, and how much help you have with your baby. What we do know is, this is not your fault.
Recent studies show that your baby’s well-being and development are directly tied to your physical and emotional health. You deserve to be healthy, and your baby needs a healthy mom in order to thrive. Don’t wait to reach out for HELP. It is available.
There comes a time in every woman’s life when she needs help. NOW is the time to reach out to a caring professional, who is knowledgeable about perinatal depression, and who can help you through this time of crisis. He or she can understand the pain you are experiencing and guide you on the road to recovery.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY PERINATAL MENTAL HEALTH TASK FORCE
Adapted from Speak Up When You’re Down