One of the best pieces of advice that my husband and I received when we were pregnant with our first child was that it would be his responsibility to watch for signs of postpartum depression (PPD) once our baby arrived.
He took that responsibility seriously and we had many honest discussions after the birth of each of our children.
Postpartum depression and other mental illnesses tied to childbirth, including postpartum anxiety, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum psychosis, are relatively common in new mothers; 1 in 8 women struggle with PPD.
Though there are a wide variety of PPD symptoms and each woman’s struggle is unique, here are the most common signs of PPD (taken from Postpartum Progress):
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritation or anger (with yourself and/or those around you)
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Sleep and appetite changes
- Panic attacks
- Excessive worry about your baby
- Disturbing thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
- Racing thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Headaches and stomach problems
- Feeling like you should never have become a mother or that you won’t be able to do it
- Delusions or hallucinations
If you experience any of these symptoms and they keep you from functioning on a daily basis, it is truly important that you seek help.
Be careful not to dismiss these symptoms as normal “baby blues,” which typically go away after an adjustment period of two or three weeks.
I encourage you to share this list with your spouse or another close friend or family member who can work as your partner to spot potential warning signs.
It’s also important to know that although perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can be debilitating, they are temporary and can be treated and eventually overcome with professional help.
To educate yourself further about PPD, please visit Postpartum Progress, where you will find a wealth of information.
For more information on finding help for PPD, please visit Postpartum Support International.