Laughter & Tears: The Emotional Rollercoaster After Baby Comes

Written by: Christy Weber

The day has finally come. Your little bundle of joy arrives! Several days later you bring your perfect angel home. Instead of experiencing the constant state of bliss you imagined you start to feel anxious, tired and a little weepy. So how do you know if what you’re feeling is the “baby blues” or something more?

Baby Blues or Something More?
 
According to Postpartum Support International, it is estimated that 10-15% of new mothers and up to 10% of new fathers experience postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD during the first year after having a baby. Postpartum mood disorders are more severe than the baby blues. The baby blues start within a few days of giving birth and will go away untreated within two weeks. You may feel weepy, sad, tired or anxious. However, things seem “manageable” and you begin to feel like your “old self” within a week or two. Postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD usually don’t go away on their own. They may start within a few days after giving birth and last years if left untreated.
 
Signs and Symptoms of a Postpartum Mood Disorder
 
You may be feeling...
 
• Overwhelmed
• Guilty
• Sad or depressed
• Irritated or angry
• Empty or numb
• Hopeless
• Worried or anxious
• Like you are “going crazy”
 
Other common signs include feeling like you aren’t bonding with your baby, having problems eating or sleeping and having intrusive, disturbing thoughts, usually about harm coming to the baby. Some people have thoughts of running away, taking too many pills or finding some other way out. It’s important to distinguish between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Individuals suffering from a postpartum mood disorder feel distressed, frightened or guilty about their disturbing thoughts. They recognize the thoughts are unhealthy. Postpartum psychosis is extremely rare. These women experience aggressive thoughts without guilt or distress, hear voices or see things others don’t see and/or display bizarre or violent behavior. If you or your partner are experiencing any of these symptoms you must contact a medical professional immediately.
 
How to Get Help
 
Postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD can leaving you feel guilty, ungrateful or like a “bad parent.” The good news is postpartum mood disorders are treatable! Many women and men find relief by participating in counseling, support groups, medication or a combination of the three.
 
If you feel like you need some extra support there is nothing to be ashamed of and I would encourage you to seek help. I am a licensed certified professional counselor in private practice in Chicago. One of my specialties helping clients struggling with mood disorders during pregnancy or postpartum. I can be reached at cwebercounseling@gmail.com or visit my website at www.christywebertherapy.com.
Posted on May 07, 2013 at 3:56 PM