No one expects to get sick. You don’t pencil it in to your busy schedule; you don’t plan for it. It just happens. And that’s what postnatal depression is.
It’s an illness, like a cold, except more dangerous. Postnatal mood swings are merely a side effect of the disease.
That’s what happened to me. I got sick, very sick, and it happened when I needed to be healthy the most.
Postnatal Mood Swings Made Everything Harder
I was 19 years old and had just had my very first child. A little girl. At first, it was terrific. Holding her tiny hands, watching her head as she breastfed.
I can still smell her soft baby hair if I close my eyes. I was so utterly happy. Until I wasn’t.
Until I was angry when every middle-of-the-night cry drove me crazy. When her screams on even the shortest car rides were nearly unbearable.
When I couldn’t even take a shower because she would scream until I picked her up. It made me furious. Until I wasn’t.
Until I was inconceivably sad – when all I could think about were all the ways I could screw up. When I had nightmares about not being a good mom;
About her hating me when she grew up. It was on these nights that I woke up crying inconsolably.
It was a tornado of emotions — happy, sad, angry, repeat. Over and over again. I could barely handle the postnatal mood swings.
I stopped eating, started sleeping all day with my new baby. I would go days without showering.
I would shout at my daughter’s father for getting home only a few minutes late. I would cry if I dropped something, and then immediately be filled with rage that seemed to come from nowhere.
It was like I could feel all of my emotions all the time. They were all trying to get out all at once, and it was making me crazy.
But it was one day in particular that made me realize that I needed help. I was driving across town to do God-knows-what, the baby had started crying the second we’d pulled out of our driveway.
About halfway to our destination (15 minutes of crying later) I realized I could drive both of us into the lake.
It wasn’t an angry thought, nor a sad one. It was just a clear thought in my head.
Then I realized what I was thinking. I snapped out of it. I drove the last 10 minutes of our trip sobbing. This wasn’t normal.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to feel to have a new baby. Something wasn’t right. I called my doctor, was in her office later that week.
They gave me some light medication, told me I had postnatal depression, those crazy tornado-feelings I was having were postnatal mood swings.
Postnatal mood swings? What? I was 19, otherwise healthy, with a happy, healthy, lively little girl. How could I have postnatal depression?
But this is what i didn’t know about Postnatal Depressive Symptoms (PDS)
“In 2012, the overall prevalence of PDS was 11.5%, representing 184,828 women with PDS in the 27 reporting states,” according to the CDC
I never knew these numbers. I didn’t know what it was to be high-risk, truthfully, I really didn’t know that much about postnatal depression as a whole.
But I got help, I saw my doctor, told them how I was feeling. They put me on a very low dose of a medication, recommended therapy and relaxation.
Within two weeks, even with all the stress that comes with a new baby, I was back to my normal self.
I allowed my friends and family to help me, I’ll never be more thankful for the help I got. Both from my doctor, from my friends and family.
Once my doctor explained postnatal depression, explained why I was having the postnatal mood swings.
I knew how to practice self-care. Do you understand postnatal depression?
What is Postnatal Depression?
The National Institute of Mental Health says, “Postnatal depression is a mood disorder that can affects women after childbirth.
Mothers with postnatal depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion; may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.”
What causes Postnatal Depression?
“Postnatal depression does not have a single cause, but likely results from a combination of physical and emotional factors.
Postnatal depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do.
After childbirth, the levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop.
This leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings.
In addition, many mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth.
Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postnatal depression,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
- Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
- Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, making decisions
- Experiencing anger or rage
- Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
When to Ask for Help
If you’re feeling any of the symptoms of postnatal depression, or you’re having postnatal mood swings, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
You can also reach out to friends and family and let them know that you and your little one need help.
Too often, women suffering from postpartum depression don’t seek help because they feel alone, or it makes them less of a mother when neither of those things could be further from the truth.
Postnatal depression affects between 10-15% of all mothers and is a highly treatable disease.
If you or your loved one is in crisis, there is 24 hour support here TTY: 1-800-799-4889. 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential crisis counseling.
You will find international support here.
I had it, and I know how it feels when it’s left unchecked, so if you feel like you’re a victim of postnatal depression – seek help. It’ll make you and your little one happier, healthier people.
Let us know about how you or your loved one dealt with postnatal depression below in the comments section.
About the author:
Brylee Alexander is a freelance copywriter and blogger specializing in the healthcare industry, and owner of manywordsonevoice.com.
She leverages her education in medicine and her passion for holistic health to create readable, search engine friendly content.
She’s able to condense complicated health information into easily digestible articles for consumers, entrepreneurs, and providers. Brylee is passionately dedicated to helping people live happier, healthier lives.
Link to writer’s website – bryleealexander.com
Link to writer’s blog – manywordsonevoice.com