- Sadness – Having baby blues after delivery is normal, but a constant state of sadness and uncontrollable crying is one of the most recognizable signs of postpartum depression. I would often cry in the middle of the night or early in the morning when I felt the effects of fatigue and being sleep deprived those first few weeks. I knew it was a serious problem for me when I could not control the crying spells or pinpoint the root cause of it.
- Loss of Appetite or Poor Eating – This was one of my first symptoms of postpartum depression. I struggled to maintain a regular balanced diet because I was so fixated on meeting my son’s nutritional needs. There were times I would eat only one meal a day, or sometimes nothing at all. My drastic weight loss after delivery didn’t help my situation at all. I was grateful for loved ones who prepared freezer meals for me, as they helped me regain control of my nutritional health. Protein snack boxes and energy bars also became my regular meals. It may not be perfect, but eating something is better than nothing. Frozen pizza has never tasted better after attempting to breastfeed a newborn. Make your life as simple as you can when you are struggling to eat. Reach out to your loved ones for help – you would be surprised at how many people will show up at your home with food and love.
- Obsessive Worrying or Intrusive Thoughts – This symptom (if left untreated) can develop into postpartum psychosis and /or anxiety. For example, when I first brought my son home I was terrified that he would fall down the stairs. I would sit downstairs with his diaper bag because I could not rationalize the constant fear and identify that this was not okay. While it is normal to have anxiety as a new parent, seek immediate help if you have obsessive thoughts of harming yourself, or baby.
- Difficulty Concentrating – This symptom speaks for itself. There were days in my initial phase of postpartum that I could not sit through a 30 minute series, let alone finish a book. If difficulty concentrating is affecting your day-to-day routine and normal habits, you could be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety.
- Isolation – More often than not, new moms may isolate as a way to mask their postpartum depression. This could be no longer engaging in exercise, withdrawing from social groups, ignoring calls and messages from loved ones, and so forth. Postpartum depression can make you feel alone, but you should not be so withdrawn that it becomes unhealthy. Having a supportive network during postpartum recovery is highly encouraged to prevent isolation.
Many new moms who are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety are not aware of the symptoms. I learned this from my own personal experience and because I was so caught up in going through the motions of being a new parent, I did not realize how self-damaging this pattern had become. While I am not a doctor or medical professional, the items listed below are some of the common signs of postpartum depression. If you suspect that you are experiencing postpartum depression, please contact your doctor for additional support and resources.
Postpartum depression can truly make you feel alone and helpless. In the midst of the battle it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but know that each journey is unique. You are not alone and being courageous enough to recognize that you need help is praiseworthy.
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