By Allie Molina
Mamma, Dadda, new parents, 8th-time parents – Do you know how to know if you are doing okay? So much of your concern has been on your Little, that how you’re doing has not even crossed your mind at this point. The postpartum season is difficult for both moms and dads, and the year of 2020 has only amplified what is already undoubtedly strenuous.
This season is overwhelming, so even if the question of, “am I actually OK?” has surfaced in your thoughts, the effort to research and the energy to ask questions may still be far from you. I’m hoping to help you hone in on that here with facts and signs to help you decide for yourself what your next steps may need to be.
Let’s start off with this: You are not alone in this experience.
1 in 7 pregnant and postpartum women experience a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). Half of these women do not receive the proper treatment they need. We can do our best to make sure you are not one of them. To further add, a new dad can also experience depressive symptoms just like dad can experience those symptoms with mom while she’s pregnant.
Of course there’s an adjustment period, you just added a brand new life to your growing family. Baby Blues may look like:
- Mood changes (irritability, tearfulness, etc.)
- Feelings of worry and/or unhappiness
When these symptoms last longer than two weeks, or become more severe, this could be an indicator that you need to reach out for more help from a counselor.
No matter how many of these symptoms listed below are experienced, one alone is enough to indicate a need to ask for help.
- Persistent anxious mood
- Feelings of anger
- Excessive guilt and persistent doubts about your ability to care for the new baby
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness
- Crying more often than usual
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with your baby; feeling “numb” or empty toward your baby
Perinatal depression is not brought on by anything the mother did or did not do – it’s not your fault, Mamma, that you feel this way! There are factors that increase your chances of experiencing depression and/or anxiety with pregnancy. These could be if you struggled with anxiety or depression prior to becoming pregnant, regardless of your experience with postpartum depression with previous pregnancies.
- Extreme and persistent worries and fears, often over the health and safety of your baby
- Panic attacks: shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, numbness and/or tingling
- Repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts (an obsession)
- An unrelenting need to act out a behavior (compulsion) in attempt to reduce the anxiety
- These thoughts are often scary to the mother
PMADs affect both mom and baby, so it is highly encouraged and necessary that help is sought when needed. Untreated depression can increase risk of suicide. Take care of yourself so you can best care for your Little One!
If you are in crisis or emergency, call 911.
If thoughts of suicide are persistent: 1-800-273-8255
The deaf and hard of hearing can contact: 1-800-799-4889
Crisis Text Line: text ‘HELLO’ to 741741
If you would like to speak with a counselor about depression or anxiety, check out the counselors on The Core website and see who may be right for you. No matter where you seek help, the important thing is that you seek it.
Allie Molina, PLMHP