Could you be suffering from peripartum depression?
Having a baby is touted as the pinnacle of womanhood and the “happiest” time of every mother’s life, but the reality is that the pregnancy and postpartum period (collectively referred to as the peripartum period) can be far from exceptional. For some women, having a baby brings mental and emotional exhaustion that is hard to navigate. It’s certainly not what we’re led to expect!
Peripartum depression is common. As many as one in seven women experience it. Symptoms can arise during pregnancy or up through your baby’s first year of life.
If you’re feeling unusually down, anxious, or unlike yourself while pregnant or after the arrival of your baby, it’s possible that you could be suffering from peripartum depression. If this sounds like you, help is available. Peripartum depression is a very treatable condition, and you are not alone. Here are six signs that you may be suffering from peripartum depression.
You’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
Life is full of moments that can make you feel like you’re swimming upstream. No matter what you do, you can’t catch up with the current. The key is to recognize when those feelings creep in. Pause and allow yourself to take a break. Instead of putting pressure on yourself or comparing your journey with the journeys (and oftentimes, perceived journeys!) of those around you, take a few moments each day to rest, reflect, and allow yourself grace. If you find yourself comparing your new life and your new role as a mother to people on social media, remember that social media is a highlight reel and people rarely post when they’re struggling.
Remember that life isn’t meant to be lived alone; reach out for help when needed. Leaning on loved ones during difficult times can ease the sting of feeling overwhelmed and often lead to hope-filled solutions.
You have difficulty bonding with your baby.
If you’re finding it difficult to connect or bond with your baby, know that this is completely normal and can happen for many reasons. It might be helpful to take a step back and consider important things such as how tired or overwhelmed you may be, how much you were able to rest during pregnancy, and your relationship with your parents growing up, amongst many other factors. By understanding any underlying issues, you open yourself up to work through them with actionable steps like getting outside more often or enlisting extra support from family. There are solutions to bonding issues; it may take patience and self-reflection to find them. It can take time to get to know the little person who has taken up residence in your home and in your life, and that’s okay. You’ll get there!
You’re not enjoying anything anymore.
Losing the ability to enjoy things can be a difficult battle to fight, and it can be a troubling sign that bigger issues may be brewing beneath the surface. Perinatal depression can steal your ability to feel satisfaction and to relish in life’s little pleasures. Often, it can seem like feelings of discontent have come from nowhere. It’s easy to judge yourself for feeling down or disconnected when you have a new baby. Babies are supposed to bring joy, right?
With a bit of self-reflection and exploration, you can start discovering ways to get back on track and reignite your enjoyment of life. You deserve to be happy, to enjoy your baby, and to feel at peace.
You’re sleeping too much or can’t sleep at all.
Sleeping too much or too little is a telltale sign of perinatal depression. Not getting enough quality sleep can make it difficult to focus during the day, put you in a bad mood, and negatively impact your relationships with coworkers, friends, and family. On the other hand, getting too much rest for extended periods could lead to decreased motivation and a decrease in overall wellbeing.
If you’re struggling to get enough rest or find yourself tired, creating a routine that allows for consistent sleeping and waking times is a good idea. This can help regulate your circadian rhythm and allow your body to adjust to a more natural cycle. Additionally, implementing healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine late in the day, minimizing blue light exposure in the evenings, and practicing mindfulness when winding down before bed can still help improve sleep significantly.
You’re either overeating or have no appetite.
If you feel like you are either overeating or have no appetite, you are not alone, and changes in appetite during the perinatal period can be a good indicator of perinatal depression. Many of us think that we can control our appetite with our minds – that if we just focus on it, we can make it go away or make ourselves feel hungry. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Appetite is complex and strongly influenced by internal and external cues, including our physical state, mood, environmental factors such as food availability, and even the time of day. It’s important to pay close attention to your body’s natural signals when it comes to eating rather than feel ashamed about “losing control” because of either excessive hunger or an inability to feel hungry.
You’re withdrawing from friends and family.
When you’re experiencing perinatal depression, socializing with others can be difficult and exhausting. You may feel like you have nothing to talk about and no energy to even have a conversation. From a clinical standpoint, spending quality time with those closest to you can help boost your mood, reduce stress, and remind you that you are not alone. If talking feels like too much, even sitting in silence with someone you love can be helpful.
If you’re struggling with any of the above symptoms, please seek professional help. Don’t suffer in silence– there is hope and help available. Therapy can be life changing. Our team at Intentional Healing Counseling & Coaching (located in Edina, Minnesota) can provide you with the resources and support you need to get through this difficult time. Reach out to us today for a free consultation, and please know that things can get better.