Post-Partum Depression (PPD) refers to depression that occurs after pregnancy, a common condition and one that happens more often than many people would realize. According to Postpartum Support International, about 15% of women will experience profound depression after birth. So, what are the symptoms associated with PPD?
The symptoms of PPD will usually differ from one mom to another, but there are basic red flags to look out for. Moms suffering from PPD/ people around them may notice the following:
- Intense anger (sometimes directed at the baby) and persistent irritability. You tend to feel angry, rage, at anything, everything, anyone, everyone, and that precious baby is no exception. It is feeling an uncontrollable resentment, especially at the people that matter.
- Crying, often accompanied by overwhelming sadness. The period after delivery, for most moms, will be characterized by lots of tears, usually tears of joy. For a good number however, PPD shows up with tears of anguish, tears of trouble and sadness that sinks to the pits of your soul.
- Emptiness, Numbness. There is nothing to look forward to, not your life’s, not your baby’s. You feel like a leaf, drifting in the afternoon breeze to the land of nothingness. Simply going through the motions, dreading the thought of another dark day.
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, hopeless and helpless. Guilty because moms are not supposed to feel this way, they are meant to bond with their babies. Those toothless smiles of you and baby on Instagram? Those snuggly cute feet you posted on Facebook? Forget about that, Just a mask to hide the longing persistent pain of PPD. Ashamed because, I don’t know if this happens to other moms, plus, doesn’t my baby deserve better? Hopeless, what is there to hope for in this endless rabbit hole? Helpless, no one seems to understand what I am going through. No one seems to understand why I can’t bond with my baby. No one seems to understand why, and neither do I, I hate my baby so much.
- A lack of interest in the baby’s welfare. You’d care less about baby, or his/her future…
- You feel overwhelmed: ‘I can’t do this, I never get it right, I am poor at motherhood, I shouldn’t have chosen the ‘family way’… And you are petrified. Scared at the thought of been unable to pull it together and be a good mom. And confused about this thing that just hangs over your head… for days on end, this thing that you can’t comprehend.
- Thoughts of self-injury and/or injuring the baby. You feel like self-injury will justify the pain, the pangs of a condition best described as a dark phase. It is not uncommon to feel suicidal, thinking it is a solution. The better if you can eliminate both you and baby. Or take a random drive, baby strapped in his seat, over the cliff and into the azure ocean waters. Or perhaps that’s too harsh, how about running away and leaving no forwarding address? Leaving everything that has been associated with ‘normal’ behind… and go to the unknown…
- You know, deep down, that this is not normal, that something is amiss, that something doesn’t feel right. Afraid that this is the new harsh reality before you, that this is the new normal, and worst of all, the old, boisterous person you were is gone forever.
- You are scared that if you ask for help, you will be met by a judgmental lot, because good moms don’t live like that, good moms don’t feel that way, good moms don’t hate their babies… the list is endless.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help, immediately. Take note, however, that experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms for a day or two should not cause alarm. We all have those blue days. PPD is not just ‘having a bad day’; it is a persistent thing, a dark stage, one that makes it almost impossible to carry on with daily life. This is why it is very important to get help. Feel free to share this information with friends and loved ones. It helps to be on the lookout too for that new mom who is still finding their footing with the extra little person they have to take care of. Always go beyond the casual ‘Hi’, Be patient to really ask ‘How are you doing?’ and to wait for the truth, that things are not always fine. Sometimes all a mommy with PPD needs is a listening ear. There is hope.
PS: PPDIsland is not managed by medical professionals, and therefore does not avail medical diagnosis or recommend any treatment regimen. This blog was birthed out of the need to create awareness about Post-Partum Depression, and especially in Kenya, as well as to give insight into what precedes this condition, from the eyes of a PPD Survivor. The blog is run out of the desire to help other moms know that they are not alone in this journey. For moms to know that there is hope even when, many times, PPD has you frazzled, and you are fraught with incessant fear, worry and doubt.
Any pertinent information found on this blogpost must be used in consultation with a professional medical practitioner. In the same breath, highlighting any specific medical website is not an endorsement or assurance of the quality of the said website. It is important to ascertain the authenticity of such information on the web.
Featured Image: photo credits Tintseh Photography