Postpartum Depression: This Isn't About My Baby

I recently had a mother say to me, "I have always felt close to my baby, but I don't feel like myself. I am on edge all the time."

I recently had a mother say to me, “I have always felt close to my baby, but I don’t feel like myself. I am on edge all the time.”

Another woman told us, “The doctor kept asking me, ‘Do you have thoughts about hurting your baby or yourself?’ and I kept telling him that I am not like that!” This mom was offended that thoughts about harming her baby or herself seemed to be the only question she was being asked. “It made me feel like my problems weren’t real because I wasn’t going to kill myself. But I couldn’t sleep, and I felt on edge all the time.”

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These concerns are not unique to these individuals. The women we speak to at the Pine Rest Mother Baby Program often talk about it. Frequently these women know they need help and that their symptoms and life situation can’t continue like it is. While not feeling bonded with your baby is a common symptom of postpartum depression, this is not the case for all women. Some say their symptoms have nothing to do with their pregnancy or their baby, and so they ask, “Is this the right program for me?”

The two common factors for women being treated at the Mother and Baby Program are that they are experiencing distress and they have a baby, toddler or are pregnant. If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety and you have a baby or are pregnant, our belief at Pine Rest is that you should and can get specialized help during this time.

Everyone is unique, and, as a result, each person experiences symptoms that are unique. Depression and anxiety can appear differently in each person. Don’t delay getting help because your symptoms aren’t “classic” or similar to what other people have reported.

Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Difficulty completing day to day tasks
  • High anxiety (this includes irritability, edginess, constant thoughts)
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest in usual hobbies and activities
  • Fearfulness
  • Insomnia (can’t sleep or wind down)
  • Increased sleep (don’t want to get out of bed)
  • Don’t want to leave the children with other people and/or excessive fears that harm will come their way
  • Loss of interest in taking care of baby or excessive interest and unwillingness to let others help or do things with the baby

Stress plays a big factor in a person’s emotions and feelings and can intensify symptoms.

In fact, some woman will say, a particular life event or situation is the main reason for their stress. Here are some examples of these stressors:

  • Major life change (like a new job or moving)
  • Relationship stress
  • Marriage/partner stress
  • Miscarriage(s)
  • Difficult pregnancy
  • Health problems in a loved one
  • Death in family

The bottom line is that you need help when extreme mood changes occur during or after pregnancy that last more than three weeks and/or affects your ability to function.

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Help is available, and there are many research-based therapies and treatments that can give women relief from their symptoms. If you are wondering what kind of help might be best for you or a loved one, call our Mom HopeLine (844.MOM-HOPE or 844.666.4673) and talk to one of our experts.

Kerrie Van Weelden, LMSW is a social worker and case manager in the Pine Rest Mother and Baby Program and in the Contact Center.

This article reprinted with the permission of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.