Most new parents are aware of the major red flags of postpartum depression, or PPD: sadness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, anger toward or feeling disconnected to the baby. But not all PPD signs are so obvious. There are several subtle things you didn't realize are signs of postpartum depression.
It can be hard for a mom to recognize that she may be suffering from PPD. After all, how can you expect to go through all of the changes a baby brings to your home, lifestyle, and sleep schedule without feeling a range of emotions? Also, how do you know it's not just the baby blues? According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the baby blues is a mild, brief bout of depression that at least 50 percent of new moms will go through, while around 10 to 20 percent of women will experience postpartum depression.
It may be difficult to tell the difference in the early stages. Because of this, all new moms whose doctors do not currently screen for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders should speak to a healthcare professional if they are exhibiting any signs associated with depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Here are a few things you may be experiencing that you didn't realize are signs of PPD.
It's nearly impossible to find a new mother who isn't fatigued, however Postpartum Progress noted that there's a difference between the normal fatigue that comes from lots of late night feedings and interrupted sleep and the kind of deep fatigue associated with PPD that is not alleviated with rest. If you finally start getting six or more hours of sleep and you still feel extremely worn down, call your doctor.
Insomnia is a dangerous symptom of PPD. Postpartum Progress noted a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, which found that depression symptoms worsen in PPD patients when their quality of sleep declines. Moms who suffer with insomnia can have difficulty caring for their infants as their concentration and good judgement declines.
Psycholigst Diana Lynn Barnes wrote in Midwifery Today that she experienced excessive weight loss after giving birth to her daughter which was later attributed to PPD. For some moms, losing interest in eating may sound like a "good problem" to have, but the reality is that your body needs to be adequately nourished in order to handle all of the rigors that come with breastfeeding and taking care of a newborn. Your body should naturally signal the need for those additional calories, but if you aren't getting those hunger signals, it could be a sign of PPD.
A mom who isn't experiencing PPD will take her difficulties and mistakes in stride and realize that she's doing the best that she can. Moms with PPD will have an overwhelming amount of guilt and feel that their babies deserve better mothers, according to Postpartum Progress. A mom struggling with PPD will often believe that if she isn't the perfect mom, then she is the worst mom.
It's normal to lose interest in some activities after having a baby. Salsa dancing with your girlfriends is less appealing when you know you have to get up for a 3 a.m. feeding. But the American Pregnancy Association warned that if you start to lose interest in simple activities that you've always enjoyed, like marathon viewing your favorite TV show or having coffee and conversation with your best friend, it may be a sign of PPD.
Samantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D., director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the University of North Carolina Center for Women's Mood Disorders told Shape that sadness can manifest in different ways. For some people, it comes out as irritability. Some moms with PPD may not cry, but instead will have a short fuse. Everything will get on their nerves and they feel at the brink of snapping at any moment.
You might dismiss brain fog as "mommy brain" but Postpartum Progress warns that when you're dealing with depression you can have a hard time remembering things, thinking of the right words, and multitasking. Your head is cloudy and it can put you and your baby at risk while driving, cooking, or even going out for a walk.