Giving birth is a powerful experience, bringing with it a rollercoaster of emotions that range from intense excitement to fear, joy to anxiety. Some new mothers, however, may experience some other, more unexpected emotions—depression and sadness.  While the “baby blues” are not uncommon, and include feelings of sadness, mood swings, and crying spells, when these symptoms are intense or last more than two weeks, they may be signs of postpartum depression or anxiety. If you think you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are things that you can do to help get your life back to “normal.”

What Are the Signs of PPD?

With the fluctuation of hormones that comes with giving birth to your new baby, it’s common to experience mood changes or have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms, which may only last a day or two, are referred to as the “baby blues,” and balance out not long after giving birth. For some women, though, those symptoms intensify and last longer, eventually interfering with their ability to take care of their baby or get through everyday activities. It can be difficult to distinguish what might be simple hormone changes versus what could be part of a larger issue, but if you know the symptoms of postpartum depression, you’ve already taken the first step.

Knowing what signs to look for can help you determine when to seek treatment for postpartum depression. Combined with feelings of sadness, postpartum depression can be characterized by symptoms including:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Overwhelming tiredness and fatigue
  • Intense irritability or anger
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

These symptoms should be taken seriously—if you are feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. Many women experience postpartum depression and can benefit from treatment so as to truly enjoy the joys of being new mothers.

Therapy for Postpartum Depression and When to Seek Treatment

If you are having trouble with getting through your normal day-to-day life after giving birth, you may be reluctant, scared, or embarrassed to talk to someone about it.  Many women may think asking for help or admitting they are struggling is a sign of weakness, or that they are not cut out for motherhood, neither of which is true. Postpartum depression is common, and your doctor will know what to do to help you, including possibly referring you to a mental health care provider.

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, don’t let shame or anxiety hold you back from seeking help and support. Left untreated, postpartum depression can take a toll on your ability to bond with your baby, and can last for months or longer, so it’s important to know when to ask for help.

There are a range of different postpartum depression treatments, including counseling and therapy sessions, that can help you feel like you again, and your doctors will help determine the best course of action.