Getting used to a life with a baby isn’t easy, and it’s normal for moms (and dads) to feel tired in the first year of becoming a parent. However, if a new mother begins feeling sad and hopeless, in addition to being tired, this can point to a most serious issue known as postpartum depression.
It is estimated that between 10%-20% of women who give (live) birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression in the year that follows, and with around 4 million births occurring each year in the US, this equates to about 600,000 individual postpartum depression diagnoses.
More often than, women are not aware that they have PPD and can remain undiagnosed for long periods of time, which can lead to serious, life-threatening consequences. That’s why it’s incredibly important to notice the warning signs on time and seek out medical attention as soon as possible.
What follows are things you should watch out for if you believe you or someone you know might be suffering from postpartum depression.
Your “Baby Blues” Are Not Going Away
A change in the mood is normal during the first two weeks of your baby’s life, but if you find yourself feeling sad and hopeless even after this period, then you should consider that it might be more than the blues.
You Are Consumed by Sadness
If you find yourself often having crying spells and generally feeling unhappy about being a mom, then what you may be experiencing are the first signs of postpartum depression.
You No Longer Have an Interest in Things You Love
One of the most obvious early warning signs of PPD is finding yourself losing interest in things that you previously loved doing, either on your own or with your partner. So, if you no longer care about being affectionate with your significant other, don’t care about your favorite foods or hobbies, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor.
You Constantly Question Your Abilities as a Mother
Being worried about being a good mom is normal—after all, this is something that’s entirely new to you and that you have no experience with. However, if your doubts continue well into the first year of having your baby, it could be a warning sign of PPD.
You Can’t Seem to Make Decisions
We’re not talking about whether you can’t decide to eat pizza or lasagna for dinner, but rather situations in which you can’t decide if it’s worth getting out of bed in the morning, taking a shower, changing your baby’s diaper, or taking her for a walk. If this is something you are familiar with, seek out professional help immediately.
Your Either Don’t Sleep or Sleep Too Much
Again, it’s normal for a new mom’s sleep patterns to change once she gives birth to a baby. However, if you can’t get some rest even when your child is asleep, or if you find yourself sleeping more than you should be, then you might want to look into this particular issue.
You Have Thoughts About Harming Yourself
Sadly, suicidal thoughts and any thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby are considered advanced signs of PPD. In rare situations, postpartum depression will be followed by postpartum psychosis, which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Postpartum depression and any other mental health disorder should be treated immediately, so if you know someone suffering from PPD, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Dr. Best and his Neuroscience Center team, and schedule a consultation!