Having a baby is supposed to be a challenging but magical time. For many new parents, the struggles go far past juggling a new schedule and caring for an infant. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are common but severe conditions that you or your loved one may experience.
Often grouped, there is a difference between postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. Here’s what to know about each condition and coping with them.
Research shows one in seven women live with postpartum depression (PPD). Your body and mind go through a lot during and after birth, and the hormonal changes combined with a massive lifestyle adjustment can be hard on your mental health.
PPD symptoms are scary and it’s easy to feel guilty about experiencing them when trying to enjoy your newborn. Remember that you’re not alone, and living with the symptoms is not your fault. By recognizing PPD, you can better understand your symptoms and seek the proper treatment.
PPD vs Baby Blues
You or your loved ones might mistake postpartum depression for “baby blues,” but they are two different conditions. Baby blues last one to two weeks after birth and your body and mind are adjusting to the recent changes. You might feel sad and alone, but those feelings typically aren’t as intense as those faced with PPD. Baby blues go away within the first few weeks without treatment.
4 Symptoms of PPD
While symptoms of postpartum depression vary, these five are some of the most common you may experience.
- Frequent Sadness: You might feel sad or like crying when you typically wouldn’t or there is no apparent reason.
- Loss of Interest: The things you once enjoyed might no longer interest you. While it’s normal for your priorities to change, PPD can cause you to no longer feel love or passion for what you previously did. It can lead to isolating yourself from family, friends and hobbies.
- Feeling Unattached to Your Baby: You might struggle to bond with your baby or feel resentment towards them even if you don’t want to feel that way.
- Feeling Hopeless: When experiencing PPD, you might feel like things can never improve or that you are failing as a parent. Even if you know it’s false, the feelings often overwhelm you.
One in five women live with postpartum anxiety after giving birth. It leads to various symptoms that cause mental distress and prevents you from enjoying motherhood. Like PPD, hormone and lifestyle changes contribute to the condition and often require professional treatment.
Feeling some worry surrounding your new baby is normal, but persistent fear and intrusive thoughts could mean postpartum anxiety.
4 Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety
Like PPD, symptoms of postpartum anxiety are wide-ranging, but these four are some of the most common.
- Severe, Persistent Worry: You might experience constant intrusive thoughts about things that might happen to you, your baby or other people, pets and essential items.
- Irritability and Feeling Agitated: Easily snapping at others and feeling angry over things wouldn’t normally frustrate you.
- Panic Attacks: Panic attacks sometimes come with postpartum anxiety. They come on suddenly and bring intense fear or panic. Physical symptoms accompany a panic attack, including chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Feeling a Loss of Control: You might feel like you lost control of your life since the intense anxiety prevents you from enjoying your new stage of life.
Experiencing Both Conditions
PPD and postpartum anxiety are not mutually exclusive. They are often comorbidities, making it hard to differentiate what you’re experiencing and when. Several symptoms overlap, including:
- Insomnia or Restless Sleep
- Physical Pain or Discomfort
- Loss of Appetite, Feeling Sick
- Distrusting Others
- Inability to Concentrate
Whether you experience symptoms that relate to one or both conditions, there are ways to improve them.
Coping with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Many treatment options can help you move through and past these conditions. By seeking the proper treatment, you can start feeling like yourself again.
Be Honest With Loved Ones
You shouldn’t feel pressure to portray a wonderful postpartum experience. Be honest with your partner, other children and other loved ones about your struggles and why you might seem different for a while.
Accept help and support to care for you and your new little one. Taking care of yourself will help you best care for your baby now and in the future.
Talk to a Professional
Like other physical and mental conditions, finding the right health care provider can get you on the road to recovery. Speak to your primary care provider about your symptoms and seek help from a reputable psychiatrist. They can recommend therapy and medications to get you feeling better.
Keep in mind that finding the proper mental health care is like shopping. Don’t get discouraged if you have to try different treatments before finding the right one. If you don’t feel like you’re taken seriously by a provider, you can find another one.
Find a Support Group
Many online and in-person mom and parent groups are out there to lift each other up during the hard times and celebrate all milestones. Research what’s available in your area or find a virtual community to get support from people who share your experience.
Living with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression
Postpartum anxiety and PPD are a struggle, but by educating yourself and seeking treatment and support, you will get through this.