It’s a scary thing, feeling depressed with a newborn baby.
You had expected this to be the happiest time in your life – you were finally going to be a mother and everything was going to be perfect.
Unfortunately, for some mothers, feeling depressed after giving birth is a reality. And it can be really, really hard.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two kinds of depression after childbirth – the baby blues and postpartum depression.
The baby blues are characterized by:
- Lack of concentration
- Poor eating and poor sleeping
- Baby blues generally pass in a few weeks.
- Postpartum depression is a different thing completely. It is characterized by:
- Extreme sadness
- Extreme mood swings
- Difficulty bonding
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
- Inability to focus
- Thoughts of self-harm
So, how do you know which you are struggling with?
If any of of the things ring true then you might be struggling with postpartum depression.
- The symptoms don’t fade
- The symptoms are getting worse
- You are struggling to take care of your baby
- You are struggling with everyday tasks
So, ask yourself where you are with your depression? Do you have a baby who is a few days old and you have been feeling sad or are you a few months in and having a hard time functioning? Somewhere in between?
If you have any questions AT ALL, you should talk to your doctor. Seeking help if you are struggling with feeling depressed with a newborn baby, is very important for many reasons. Here are a few…
1. Things are hard enough.
Having a newborn is really, really hard.
When we leave the hospital, no one hands us a manual about being a parent. Sure, we have been told about the sleepless nights, the bleeding nipples, the messy diapers but until we actually experience those things we have no idea.
When we are struggling with depression on top of all of the challenges of having a newborn things can become unmanageable quickly.
The best thing that you can do to survive parenting a newborn is managing your moods. If you are depressed, get help immediately so that you can keep yourself healthy and strong in the short and long term.
2. Things can get worse.
I know it’s hard to believe, with how bad you are feeling right now, that things can get worse but, believe me, they can.
Depression, when left untreated, can only get worse. And, as you sink further into despair and are less able to function, you will have a harder and harder time taking care of your baby and managing household tasks.
And when that happens, your depression will just keep getting worse.
So, if you have been feeling depressed for more than a few days, reach out to your doctor so that you can stop that depression in its tracks. Postpartum depression left untreated, can turn into chronic depression which is, let me tell you, not fun.
3. There is an end in sight.
If you are feeling depressed with a newborn baby and you get help, there is an end in sight for you.
Fortunately, postpartum depression is very treatable and the sooner that it is treated the better.
Depression, if left untreated, can take on a life of its own and become worse with time. If you talk to your doctor now and start managing your depression, chances are significantly increased that you will get through it and, perhaps, have no further depressive episodes in the future.
4. Your family needs you.
Now that you are a mom, everything has changed. You no longer have only yourself to take into consideration. The health of your family is, in many way, paramount and your happiness makes a big difference. “When mommy is happy, the family is happy’ is a familiar saying that I am guessing you might already know.
Untreated postpartum depression in a mother can have a ripple effect throughout the family. Her partner may be more likely to get depressed or angry or have mood swings.
Furthermore, children of mothers with untreated depression can have issues with emotional development, eating, and sleeping disorders and a tendency towards excessive crying. And when your child is struggling, your depression will only get worse.
So, if not for yourself, do it for your family. They need you now, more than ever.
5. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
I know, I know. You have probably told yourself that you can tough this out. That you have always been strong and that you can get through this sadness without support.
Or perhaps you are telling yourself that you are weak, that a better woman, a better mother, wouldn’t be feeling this way, wouldn’t be angry at her baby and her husband. Perhaps you are feeling ashamed and worthless
But let me tell you, your depression is NOT your fault and it’s NOT something that you can manage by yourself.
Postpartum depression happens because of acute hormone and lifestyle changes. One minute you are happy and pregnant. 24 hours later, after suffering through the most excruciating pain you have EVER experienced, you are home with a newborn and have no idea what to do next. Your hormones are swinging back and forth as your body starts to produce milk and you have no idea whether you will ever sleep again.
There is nothing wrong, nothing shameful, about reaching out for help during this difficult time. As a matter of fact, you will demonstrate your strength as a mother if you do step up and advocate for your mental health. You will be taking care of yourself which will mean, in turn, that you are taking care of your family.
Struggling with feeling depressed with a newborn baby is not an unusual occurrence.
New mothers are given the double whammy of a huge lifestyle change and fluctuating hormones. Even the strongest mother would struggle to manage this (and there isn’t a man alive who could!).
So, for the sake of your family, for the health of your child, to stop things from getting worse and for making your life easier, reach out to your doctor today for help managing your depression.
You have a new baby – life can be grand. And it’s yours for the taking!