Approximately one out of eight women will suffer from postpartum depression. Research has found that effective screening for associated symptoms is often complicated by limited access to struggling women, mothers’ presentations as “put together”, and difficulties disclosing symptoms as a result of feelings of embarrassment, guilt, resentment and worries that their concerns will be dismissed. Moreover, the symptoms of postpartum difficulties are often ambiguous as a result of the overlapping symptoms within the realm of normal postpartum adjustment.
Mothers struggling with postpartum depression may experience:
- Feeling low, sad, irritable, restless, numb or empty
- A loss of interest and enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities
- Changes in desire for and enjoyment of food
- Difficulties sleeping or getting rest when the baby is sleeping or attended to
- Psychomotor changes often noticeable to others, such as moving slowly or being restless or on edge
- Excessive low sense of worth or guilt
- Concentration difficulties, including slowed thinking or having trouble making simple decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of dying and no longer being able to go on.
Mothers with postpartum depression may first present to their health care professional or loved ones with scary thoughts or worries focused on the baby, which are experienced as intrusive and unwanted. These can include:
- Ideas: What if I don’t feed my baby enough?
- Images: I keep picturing the baby drowning in the bathtub.
- Impulses: Every time the baby cries, I feel like I’m going to do something to the baby.
Or can be about:
- Yourself: I’m certain my baby would be better off without me.
- Others: My partner thinks I am a bad mother.
- The future: What if my baby grows up to be a bad person.
If you are concerned about how you, a partner, a friend, or a client is feeling during the postpartum period, please seek guidance, advice or reassurance. If left untreated, postpartum depression may increase in severity or lead to chronic episodes of depression.
At The Therapy Centre, our clinicians can assess the symptoms of postpartum depression, provide a differential diagnosis and offer effective treatment options to help women recover and mothers enjoy their time with their child.