What is postpartum depression?
I remember my grandmother telling me stories about my aunt who went through postpartum depression. Luckily, grandma was there to help her out and make sure her grandson was well taken care of. With her assistance, my aunt was able to recover quickly and raise my cousin, but some women don’t always recover so quickly, and still, other women experience a completely different set of emotions. Not only that, but I found out that women can also experience postpartum anxiety instead of postpartum depression.
Most people know more about postpartum depression because it seemed to be talked about more often. It is when women become depressed within twelve months of giving birth and they start experiencing overwhelming or debilitating feelings of anger, hopelessness, and sadness all associated with being a mom or with having a child. It can be crippling and without the proper help, it can last for years.
What is postpartum anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety is not as easy to diagnose because some people often associate it with natural motherly instincts or with just being a first-time mom. It is characterized by feelings of intense worry or unease that something is going to happen. Your thoughts are constantly racing and they don’t slow down. You can become obsessed with things around your house that could cause harm to your baby and you start to avoid them. You have to constantly check on your infant to make sure they’re breathing, and you can’t stop thinking of terrible scenarios and “what if” questions.
Some mothers think they’re going crazy and that they will always feel like this now that they have a child. However, this isn’t a normal level of anxiety. My sister’s anxiety stayed for a few weeks, but once she learned that my niece wasn’t going to break or stop breathing in her sleep she relaxed and slipped naturally into being a mother. Postpartum anxiety, like depression, can be treated and if you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away. Don’t let depression or fear ruin the best years of your life.
- Paul, I. M., Downs, D. S., Schaefer, E. W., Beiler, J. S., & Weisman, C. S. (2013). Postpartum anxiety and maternal-infant health outcomes. Pediatrics, 131(4), 1218 -1224.
- Stone, K. (n.d.). The symptoms of postpartum depression & anxiety. Postpartum Progress.