After delivery, many new moms experience significant mood changes ranging from the normal mood swings to the serious ones that require a mom to seek treatment from a healthcare provider these can be a postpartum depression signs, psychosis signs or just baby blues.
As a new mom, experiencing baby blues after delivery is quite normal. These baby blues are characterised by mood swings; happy at one moment and extremely sad at other moments, a mom may occasionally cry, feel restless, lonely, very irritable, and anxious when there is no cause for it. This should not worry you so much as it is short lived; it only lasts a few hours or at most one to two weeks after birth.
Baby blues do not even require you to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider. Joining a new moms’ support group; where you get to share your experiences, and learn from other moms is the best support system you can use to overcome this phase of your life.
To adequately deal with the longer cases of baby blues, try and take it easy by asking for help with the baby from your spouse or family. Take this time to relax, such as cuddling up to your super comfortable pregnancy pillow or practising some yoga poses and going for walks.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
One out of 10 new moms experiencing baby blues develops a more serious problem. In such a case, the baby blues progress into postpartum depression which is characterised by the same mood swings as those experienced by women experiencing baby blues. However, these feelings of sadness, loneliness, irritability or anxiety become more intense than those of baby blues. These can include:
Depressed mood or severe mood swings
Difficulty bonding with your baby.
Withdrawing from family and friends.
Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual.
Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much.
Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
Postpartum depression can come about days, weeks or even months after delivery. This form of depression is not only experienced by first time moms but can also be experienced by women in subsequent births. A woman experiencing postpartum depression has extreme mood changes that go as far as affecting her ability to function normally. If postpartum depression gets to this point where following a daily routine becomes difficult, then that’s the only cue a mom needs to know that they need to seek medical attention from their doctor. In these cases the doctor will carry out some tests to determine if a mom has depression symptoms; the doctor will then develop a treatment plan that involves use of medicine and counselling.
This is a chronic mental illness which mostly affects new moms and comes about over a very short period; mostly two to three months after giving birth. This mental condition is characterised by serious auditory hallucinations; a woman hears things that are not real such as hearing voices calling out her name, and delusions; where a woman can be certain that things are completely irrational. Visual hallucinations (Seeing things that are not there in reality) also come about but they are not so common.
Other symptoms of postpartum psychosis include restlessness, insomnia (inability to get some sleep), Irritability and anger, and showing strange behaviours. Moms suffering from postpartum psychosis need to see medical attention as soon as possible. In most cases, a mom suffering from this mental illness may need to be institutionalised because their own safety and that of the people around them is compromised; a mom could easily hurt herself, the baby or even other people.
Delusions – thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true
Manic mood – talking and thinking too much or too quickly, feeling “high” or “on top of the world”
Low mood – showing signs of depression, being withdrawn or tearful, lacking energy, having a loss of appetite, anxiety or trouble sleeping
Loss of inhibitions
Feeling suspicious or fearful
Feeling very confused
Behaving in a way that’s out of character
With all mental illness cases, each individual is different and the only way to get an accurate diagnosis is by visiting a mental health professional. If you or anyone you know is going through this, do not hesitate to seek help.
How to cope with postpartum depression.
Most moms diagnosed with postpartum depression spend their time blaming themselves for their situation and feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, focus on what you can do to recover; remember there is hope at the end of the tunnel. The following are some of the ways you can use to cope with postpartum depression.
Seek professional help
This is the first step; visit a practitioner and let them screen you for postpartum depression. This helps your doctor to come up with a proper treatment plan for you.
Be easy on yourself
If your doctor diagnoses you with postpartum depression, this is not your cue to start crucifying yourself for any mistakes that you may have committed. This kind of mental illness does not rule you out to be a terrible mom; stop harbouring feelings of guilt over things you could not control. Instead, eat well, get some beauty sleep, follow your practitioner’s advice to the letter and take your medication if any. Take one step at a time; it’s just a matter of time before you get back to your normal self.
Ask for help
Asking for help does not mean you are weak. Knowing when to seek for help is part of being a strong woman and a great mom. You could ask your spouse, family and friends to help you around the house, or go with you to your doctor’s appointments or even help you take care of your little one.
Talk to someone
A problem shared is a problem half-solved. You do not have to deal with postpartum depression alone. Ensure that all the lines of communication between you and your spouse, family or friends stay open. You might be surprised at how much support and encouragement you will get. Alternatively, join a postpartum depression support group; other women going through the same experience as you will hold your hand through the whole journey.
Join our parenting group
FREE parenting and babywearing support