More Than the Baby Blues?

   Written by on October 26, 2015 at 7:55 am

Just had a healthy baby?  Are you telling yourself you should be happier?  You have the baby you have always wanted.  But … you can’t sleep, can’t eat, are worried to the point of panic attacks, cry at the drop of hat, can’t concentrate, feel like you can’t love your baby, want to sleep all day, nothing interests you, feel helpless and hopeless most of the time, are irritable and seem to always be angry at the baby, your partner or other people.  You may be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD); it can happen to anyone.  Even a celebrity who has “it all” can suffer from PPD.  Hayden Panettiere, of “Nashville” fame, recently talked about her struggles with PPD.

logo-gowin-cheryl-dennisPostpartum depression is more common than you may think.  More that one out of four new moms report significant PPD symptoms.  Postpartum depression is a serious condition and all too often, regrettably, shame keeps new moms from seeking the help they need.

You have a new baby.  You feel worried, exhausted, unhappy, and are working on very little sleep.  This may be the Baby Blues.  The Baby Blues affect up to 80 % of new moms.  Symptoms may include trouble sleeping, mood swings, anxiety, irritability or tearfulness along with periods of feeling fine.  The key is that these feelings are mild; they don’t affect your ability to function, and last no longer than two weeks after you have had the baby.

While these symptoms are quite unpleasant, they are normal and typically subside within one to two weeks.  The Baby Blues are different from PPD because you are able to care for yourself and your baby.  Eating healthy, getting as much rest as possible, and having a good support system can help reduce these symptoms.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar the Baby Blues but with greater intensity.  Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are present.  A new mom may experience intense exhaustion and sluggishness, confusion, poor concentration, over concern for the baby or a lack of interest, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, irritability, uncontrollable anger, and fear of harming the baby or self.  These symptoms may appear immediately or may not show up until several months after delivery.  The symptoms can last for up to a year.  New moms who experience postpartum depression will have alternating good days and bad days

A family history of depression, history of severe PMS, complicated pregnancy and/or labor, thyroid imbalance, and unrealistic expectations are all risk factors for PPD.  Other stress events such as a job change, a move, death in the family, lack of support, or a high-needs infant also increase the risk of PPD.

Your first step if you have having these symptoms is to remind yourself having PPD doesn’t make you a bad mom.  Getting the help you need makes you a great mom.  Being a mom means doing hard things, which for you may mean asking for the help you need.  The sooner you feel like yourself, the sooner you can truly enjoy all the wonders of motherhood.

The next step is to seek professional help.  Talk with your obstetrician and have a thorough physical examination.  Your doctor can determine whether there is a hormonal imbalance from a medical condition such as a thyroid problem.  In addition, the help of a professionally trained Christian counselor can significantly help in recovering from depression.  A clinically trained counselor can support you in your recovery.

Don’t compound depression with self-condemnation.  It is already agonizing enough to be going through the myriad emotions and thoughts you are having.  You won’t help the situation by beating yourself up emotionally.  Shaming yourself by telling yourself you are a bad mom is ineffective.  Be a good mom by dealing with the situation and seeking a solution.  With treatment, most moms begin to feel better.  Take the initiative to care of yourself and get well, remembering what the Bible says … “your worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

I sought the LORD and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.  Psalm 34: 4

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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