Pregnancy and having a baby can be a happy and wonderful time in a woman’s life. However, while exciting, the prenatal and postpartum time can be difficult, painful and stressful for women and their partners. Issues with fertility, pregnancy loss and the postpartum period can leave a woman feeling very alone and hopeless.
Many times, a woman experiences conflicting emotions. She feels joyous, while also feeling anxious and overwhelmed. She is happy about the birth of her child, yet may miss the freedom she used to have.
Just this week, People Magazine reported that Hayden Panettiere entered treatment for postpartum depression.
In addition, women can experience scary thoughts. This symptom is very common but also is one of the most difficult symptoms to talk about. These thoughts can range from a fear of allowing anyone to hold the baby to wanting to inflict harm. Most times, these thoughts are a symptom of extreme anxiety and women and their babies remain safe. However, these thoughts can be very unsettling, so a woman should be assessed by a mental health professional, preferably by one that specializes in prenatal and postpartum difficulties.
Things to ask yourself if you feel you may have Postpartum Mood Disorder:
- Have trouble sleeping?
- Find you’re exhausted most of the time?
- Notice a decrease in your appetite?
- Worry about little things that never used to bother you?
- Wonder if you’ll ever have time to yourself again?
- Think your children would be better off without you?
- Worry that your husband will get tired of you feeling this way?
- Snap at your husband and children over everything?
- Think everyone else is a better mother than you are?
- Cry over the slightest thing?
- No longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy?
- Isolate yourself from your friends and neighbors?
- Fear leaving the house or being alone?
- Have anxiety attacks?
- Have unexplained anger?
- Have difficulty concentrating?
- Think something else is wrong with you or your marriage?
- Feel like you will always feel this way and never get better?
If you have answered “Yes” to at least three of these statements you may have a postpartum mood disorder (Postpartum Stress Center). Please reach out. Tell someone.
According to the Postpartum Stress Center, 20% of women experience a prenatal and postpartum mood disorder. This disorder is very treatable. Therapy and sometimes, medication can be a great support for women during these times. Here are several websites to seek support from other women and to find local resources.
Women do recover. Couples do find a new normalcy and women are able to enjoy their babies. Please know you are not alone.
Author: Jessica Flint, LCSW, is a Pennington-based New Jersey State Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works with adults and adolescents and specializes in prenatal and postpartum mood disorders in women. www.jflint.com