How to Recognize Postpartum Depression
Updated: Feb 22
Perhaps you’ve just had a baby, or you’re about to. Or maybe your partner is reading this and wondering if perhaps his (or her) loved one may have some postpartum depression. About 1 in 5 women who are postpartum go on to suffer from any type of postpartum disorder including postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, or postpartum PTSD. That is a staggering statistic, and it is highly likely that you, or someone you know and love, will experience postpartum symptoms to the point of a diagnosis after giving birth.
The Stigma of Having Postpartum Depression
There is a whole other category of women who don’t meet the full criteria for a postpartum diagnosis but who have significant postpartum symptoms that interfere with their life. It is so important that you, and your partner, family or friends, know how to recognize postpartum depression at the least so that you can get the treatment and support you need to get back to yourself and enjoy this time with your little one. You may still harbor some concerns about identifying what is going on with you as a postpartum concern, or feel shame or embarrassment that you are depressed (or anxious). Although postpartum depression is becoming more accepted and known, it is still difficult for you to realize that this is happening to you.
When Does Postpartum Depression Start?
Postpartum depression can come on at any time after having a baby, after any number of babies. Usually postpartum depression isn’t diagnosed until at least 2 weeks postpartum, but the time frame for getting postpartum depression for women can stretch to up to a year after having your baby. It can occur after your 1st child, or your 3rd child, or your 7th child. Postpartum depression can occur in those women who are in happy marriages or partnerships, or those who are single moms. Postpartum depression does not discriminate, it can happen to women who have no history of depression or anxiety and to women who have experienced anxiety, depression or trauma in the past. If you had an easy pregnancy and delivery or if you had a difficult time carrying and birthing, you could get postpartum depression. If you or your loved one are experiencing the symptoms below for longer than a few weeks, you may have postpartum depression.
What Are Common Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
There are many symptoms of postpartum depression and every woman differs from what she experiences. However, some common symptoms include:
Feeling depressed or sad most of the time
Difficulty concentrating or focusing
Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
Lack of interest in sexual activities
Tired, exhausted, and no energy most of the time
No appetite or mostly eating sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods
No joy or laughter in your life
Feeling like your future is hopeless and nothing will get better
Having thoughts of being dead, or wanting to hurt yourself
If you are having most or all of these symptoms of postpartum depression for 2 weeks or longer, and have had a baby in the past year, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Other ways that new moms have expressed how they are feeling is “I don’t feel like myself” or “I thought things would be better” or even “I don’t think I can do this anymore”. Many new moms have concerning or scary thoughts about yourself or your baby, but if these thoughts are persistent no matter what you do to try to change them, definitely tell someone and seek out extra help and support.
What is the Treatment for Postpartum Depression?
The first thing to do if you think that you have postpartum depression is to tell someone how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. That someone can be your partner, a supportive family member or friend, or a professional. After telling someone you trust what is going on, and by the way bravo for doing this first step as this is often the most difficult, you should definitely consult with your doctor. Perhaps you are still seeing your OB/GYN or Midwife regularly, or you have a good relationship with your regular primary care physician or doctor. Make an appointment to see a doctor in person as soon as you can, and hear what their recommendations are for treatment. If you are wary of doctors or know you want to try therapy for your postpartum depression, seek out a therapist who has experience and a specialization in postpartum depression. The longer you wait to get treatment, the longer it will take you to feel better.
Postpartum depression is very treatable. You don’t have to feel like this forever, and you can feel better and find joy again in your everyday moments. Sadly, only a small portion of women who have postpartum depression ever seek treatment. Perhaps they don’t believe that anything is “wrong” with them, or they don’t have the time or support to put into feeling better. The popularization of online counseling is making it even easier for postpartum moms to get the support you need without leaving your home or your baby. Don’t let these obstacles impede your journey of recovery after having a baby!
How We Can Help
If you are suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxing life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, guest blogger, and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.