After giving birth, you’re confused because why do you feel so down? Your erratic mood leaves you perplexed because you know you should be thankful for your baby. But why does it feel this way?

Before you continue feeling guilty of your emotions, let’s start with the first truth: it’s not your fault and you are not alone.

Mood swings are so common after birth. Around 80% of new mothers feel some degree of negative feelings toward themselves, their baby, or their overall situation. More often than not, mothers feel ashamed of thinking or feeling this way that they avoid talking about it.

And if you’re feeling this way, I recommend you to do so because you might just be suffering from postnatal depression.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression, as what the term suggests, is the type of depression that develops shortly after childbirth. Contrary to popular belief, this mood disorder can affect both sexes. That’s right, dads can develop it too.

Because it is mostly believed that only mothers can have postnatal disorder, postnatal depression in men is often undiagnosed. In fact, Around 10% of dads suffer from it and those who are first time fathers are more vulnerable. Males who have partners suffering from postnatal depression also have a higher chance of developing the disorder.

Postnatal or postpartum disorder is one of the identified postpartum mood disorders. The others are postpartum anxiety disorder, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, baby blues, and postpartum psychosis.

One of the keys toward resolving what you’re going through is understanding that mood disorders can take different forms. It’s not just depression. We find it very convenient to identify it as depression when in fact it could be another mood disorder.

Put in mind that the first step in solving the problem is identifying the problem for what it is. So now we are going to focus on the latter two mood disorders we mentioned because they are very closely associated with postpartum depression.

Because they show similar symptoms, a lot of people mistake these conditions with one another. Some people experiencing depression may think it’s just baby blues, or some people suffering from postpartum psychosis may think it’s just depression.

What are these and how can you differentiate them one another?

Baby Blues Postpartum Depression Postpartum Psychosis
Mood swings Severe mood swings Rapid mood swings
Crying Excessive crying
Sadness Hopelessness
Irritability Intense irritability and anger
Appetite problems Eating too much or too little
Trouble sleeping Not being able to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much Sleep disturbances
Reduced concentration Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions Confusion and disorientation
Feeling overwhelmed Reduced interest and pleasure in activities previously enjoyed
Anxiety Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Fear of not being a good mother
Difficulty bonding with baby Obsessive thoughts about your baby
Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy Excessive energy and agitation
Restlessness Hyperactivity
Withdrawing from people Paranoia / Suspiciousness
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby Attempts to harm yourself or your baby
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide Hallucinations and delusions

The baby blue syndrome is the postpartum mood disorder that women should expect after giving birth. We mentioned a particular number earlier and we referred to it as the percentage of women who experience negative emotions after childbirth. This is it. Around 80% of women have baby blues. You will feel weepy all the time. You may have trouble sleeping. Or you can be irritable.

How is this related to postpartum depression?

Unfortunately, around 15% of these women develop depression later on. Normally, baby blues last for around 2 weeks. If you’re still feeling those negative emotions after two weeks and it feels like they’re getting worse, it’s most likely that your condition is progressing toward depression.

Postpartum Psychosis, on the other hand, is characterized by symptoms more severe than depression and is distinct because there normally are delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia involved.

What causes postnatal depression?

Hormones

You know all about the surge of hormones you experience during pregnancy. After childbirth, they drop at a rapid rate that could throw you off-balance. Notice how irritable you usually are before you get your period? Think of that and maybe take it up a few notches.

Stress and other problems

Those suffering from problems and issues could develop the condition after giving birth. Reasons such as financial troubles, substance-related concerns, problems with family, etc. are possible causes.

History of mood disorders

Studies suggest that a history of mood disorders can increase a woman’s chance of developing postpartum depression. So if you’ve suffered from depression before pregnancy, you’re high risk of having the disorder after birth.

When and why do you need professional help?

Because there’s still stigma against mental disorders, people are afraid to come forward to talk about and tackle their issues. It’s no different with mothers who suffer from postpartum depression. They feel ashamed of their thoughts and emotions or they think they don’t need professionals because it will just go away. But for the most part, they’re afraid to be judged because of their thoughts.

If you think you are suffering from postnatal depression, my advice is you seek help. If it’s way more than two weeks that you’ve been feeling awful about yourself, your baby, etc., you definitely have to talk to someone.

The danger in depression is can get worse and you may reach that point where you start to harm yourself or your baby.

This is not only to help you but it’s also a small step towards improved mental health awareness. By stepping forward, you are encouraging others to do same, albeit in your own little ways.

 

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