Bringing your newborn home comes with a guaranteed emotional roller coaster — from the initial lack of sleep to the excitement of having a new family member. You’re probably feeling more emotions at once than you’ve ever felt before. But what happens when your excitement and joy start to fade, and the stress, anxiety, worry, and sadness start to linger? You may not always feel ecstatic for the first few days or weeks following the birth of your child. For some, this temporary sadness can actually turn into postpartum depression. If you have lasting feelings of depression within the first year of giving birth to your child, then the threat may be very real for you — but you’re not alone, and your doctor can help. If you think you may have postpartum depression, look out for these signs.
1. Feelings of hopelessness, anger, or sadness
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you first bring a child into this world. But postpartum depression goes beyond feeling naturally overwhelmed — Postpartum Progress states this disorder will make you feel as if you’re not well-equipped to be a mother, and that perhaps you should never have had the baby to begin with.
This overwhelming feeling is often followed by guilt, as you may believe other mothers can handle their emotions better than you. You may feel disconnected from your child and feel as if your baby doesn’t really need you in the long run, which can also lead to anger and sadness.
2. Loss of appetite and fatigue
Your mind may not be the only part of your body that suffers when you have postpartum depression. Your body will also be feeling the effects of the stress, often leading to appetite issues or upset stomach. On the flip side, some women overeat. WebMD explains weight fluctuations may happen every day from eating differently than you normally would. You may also feel as if you have very little energy, and certainly not enough energy to care for a child. In some cases, women will feel drained as soon as they wake up in the morning.
3. Headaches, backaches, and joint pain
Many experts believe depression can make you feel pain differently than you otherwise would, and postpartum depression is no different. Even if you’re exercising or doing yoga, these aches and pains are not associated with typical muscle soreness. According to Postpartum Progress, many new moms experience constant headaches, backaches, stomach troubles, and joint pain. The condition can also lead to panic attacks, which may lead to chest pain.
If your only symptoms of postpartum depression are random aches and pains, then try paying attention to your mental state. Are you feeling foggy, drained, and anxious in addition to these pains? Then these could very well be caused by depression.
4. Crying and feelings of irritability
The American Pregnancy Association says between 70% and 80% of new mothers experience some sadness and anxiety associated with recently giving birth. But if you find yourself always tearful several weeks down the road, then this could be a sign of postpartum depression. Your tears may not just be pure sadness, either. As we mentioned before, anger is also common. This anger may be all you can focus on, which can lead to trouble concentrating on anything else during your day.
5. Negative thoughts about harming the baby
Your negative feelings may turn into more severe thoughts that go way beyond sadness as well. While you may know you’d never actually cause any harm to another human, much less your newborn child, the Office on Women’s Health says you may have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. In less severe cases, you may feel indifferent toward your child. These thoughts, as personal as they are, should be brought to a doctor’s attention. A doctor can give you council and support through this difficult time, and can help you decide on a course of treatment.