Postpartum Depression: What It Feels Like & How to Treat It
Postpartum depression (PPD) impacts anywhere from 6-20% of women after giving birth. Most people have at least heard of the condition. You might even have a basic understanding of what it looks like or some of the common symptoms.
Unfortunately, not everyone is quick to recognize the difference(s) between PPD and the “baby blues.”
It’s perfectly normal for a woman to experience some sadness and fatigue after having a baby. But the baby blues aren’t as extreme as PPD. Understanding what postpartum depression actually feels like can make it easier for you to take action quickly and get the help you deserve.
So, what does PPD feel like? If you think you have it, how can it be treated?
Common Warning Signs
Postpartum depression doesn’t necessarily happen immediately after you have a baby. It could take days or even weeks for you to start to experience symptoms. However, there are some common warning signs you should pay attention to.
The biggest “red flag” is if your baby blues don’t seem to be getting better. After about two weeks, that dip in your mood should start to change. If it isn’t, you could be dealing with something a bit more serious.
Other early warning signs of PPD include unwanted thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and a loss of interest in things you typically enjoy. You might have difficulty making decisions or deal with constant worry that you won’t be a good mother.
These warning signs shouldn’t be ignored. They typically happen early on in the PPD process, and it’s important not to brush them off or just assume it’s normal.
What Are the Symptoms?
Keep in mind that PPD can feel different for every new mother. The symptoms—even the common ones—don’t impact everyone the same way. However, you’re likely to experience at least one or more of the following:
Loss of appetite
You might also be tempted to isolate yourself. Or, you might withdraw from things you typically enjoy. Unfortunately, that can make things worse. The more isolated you are, the easier it is for your anxious or unwanted thoughts to run rampant.
The guilt and shame associated with PPD often come from thoughts of being a bad parent. You might think that you’re not “cut out” to be a mother or that there’s something wrong with you because you don’t feel as attached to your baby as you want to.
Challenging those negative thoughts is important, and you don’t have to do it alone.
What Can You Do?
Far too many women don’t get the treatment they need for postpartum depression. They either try to “ignore it,” assume it’s the baby blues, or they don’t realize that treatment is available.
The good news? PPD does often go away on its own over time. But it can last for weeks, months, or even a year. You don’t want to have to live with those symptoms that long. You and your little one deserve better.
Treatment can be different for everyone. It typically includes therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
If you’re struggling with the effects of PPD and you’re tired of feeling this way, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment. Together, we’ll work on modifying your negative thoughts and replacing them with healthier ones. We can also make it easier for you to manage your emotions so they don’t feel so overwhelming. You can take control sooner than you might think and find enjoyment in being a new mother.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.