For many women, the weeks and months after childbirth are a time of immense joy. This is when you finally get to spend time with the young one you have dreamt of and taken care of for months. But for some, this period is marked by a feeling of profound sadness and despair that just won’t go away. This condition is known as post-partum depression, and it’s much more common than most people realize. Here’s what you need to know about this complex condition.
What is Post-Partum Depression?
Post-partum depression is a form of clinical depression that mothers experience for weeks or months after they give birth. It is caused by massive changes in a mother’s hormone chemistry, social environment, and psychological outlook brought about by childbirth. While some degree of “the baby blues” is perfectly normal, post-partum depression goes beyond that, impacting a woman’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis. To differentiate, the baby blues is characterized by mood swings, and it usually lasts from 2 days to 2 weeks; this is around the time when your hormones that dipped during pregnancy and birth normalize. You sometimes feel happy, but often anxious and irritated. On the other hand, post-partum depression lasts longer, and it brings a constant feeling of despair and worthlessness. Many sufferers have thoughts that they’re not good enough to be a mother and that they’re not bonding with their child. Other symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, and thoughts of harming oneself or one’s child.
Grief, Joy, and Guilt
For many women who suffer from post-partum depression, the emotions they’re feeling are incredibly complex. On the one hand, they may be experiencing the intense joy that comes with becoming a mother. After all, many women dream of being a mother, and finally having a child is the culmination of that. But on the other hand, they may also be grappling with grief over the loss of their former life and identity. When someone becomes a mother, they shed a lot of their freedom and control over their life, being forced to center their orbit around their baby. With that grief, there is also guilt—guilt over not being able to enjoy this special time like they’re supposed to; guilt for blaming a helpless, innocent child that they chose to bring into the world. Then, they feel like they can’t bond with their baby or like they’re failing as a mother.
Dealing with Your Complex Emotions
If you’re struggling with post-partum depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. This condition is more common than most people realize, and there are treatments and resources available to help you get through it.
Some women may find relief through therapy or medication, while others may find complementary treatments such as acupuncture helpful. Even going to a spa is good; every bit helps when you’re going through a mental health crisis. It’s important to explore all of your options and find what works best for you. Additionally, it’s crucial that you reach out to others for support. Friends and family can be great resources, and there are also many support groups available specifically for mothers who are struggling with post-partum depression. By talking to others and getting help, you can begin to manage the symptoms of post-partum depression and start to feel better. You can even go on a wellness retreat for women. While it is important for an infant to have physical contact with their mother, one or two nights away may help you center yourself. If you plan on going on a retreat away from your child, you may need to prepare for it, like preparing milk and having your partner or family members take care of the child. There are also postnatal retreats that let you take your child to the retreat, where other people will take care of your child while you are there.
Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about what you’re going through, and reach out to friends and family for support. You’ll get through this—and come out stronger for it.
Post-partum depression is a complex condition that can leave new mothers feeling sad, anxious, guilty, and hopeless. If you’re struggling with post-partum depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone—and there are resources available to help you get through this tough time. Talk to your doctor about what you’re going through, and reach out to loved ones for support. With help, you’ll be able to get through this and come out stronger on the other side.