Most people think that having a baby is all excitement and endless joy, but for so many women a variety of other feelings may also be present. Postpartum depression and anxiety is an issue for approximately 1 in 6 to 1 in 8 women. The symptoms they experience may present during pregnancy or after the baby has arrived.
Symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety can include physical symptoms, thoughts, feelings, or be seen in the woman’s behaviours. Some examples of the most common symptoms are listed below:
- thoughts of feeling like a bad mother or thoughts that she is not good enough
- not having energy to take care of self or baby
- not feeling joy or happiness towards the baby
- feeling guilty about motherhood
- crying for no apparent reason, getting upset easily
- finding it hard to concentrate
- removing self from social supports (ex. not returning phone calls, not attending family gatherings)
- sleeping excessively, not sleeping at all, or having trouble falling asleep
- weight gain or weight loss that is beyond what is expected
- afraid to do things that she normally would have no problem doing (like going for a walk to the park, or driving to grocery store)
- shortness of breath, racing heart, or feeling like there is a weight on the chest and unable to take a deep breath
- excessively cleaning or organizing, unrealistic expectations for self
- worrying about things beyond one’s control (ex. the weather, an earthquake, etc.)
- feeling irritable and “on edge,” or easily startled
- thoughts of harming oneself or harming baby
Symptoms are not limited to those listed above and can present in many forms. Many women may have more than one of these symptoms at the same time. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms what are the next steps?
The best thing for the wellness of you and your baby is to get help. Remind yourself that you are not alone and that many women experience perinatal depression or anxiety. Just like we need help for a broken leg it’s okay to need help for your mental wellbeing. Discuss your symptoms with your Doctor, Midwife or Public Health Nurse.
Research on infant brain development is evolving all the time. Common knowledge today supports the fact that all babies need love and attachment as an important part of healthy development. And you equally need that love and support – so be kind to yourself and ask for help.
The following are links to resources on Perinatal Depression and Anxiety:
- The BC Reproductive Mental Health Program call: 604-875-2025 or 604-806-8589
- Pacific Postpartum Support Society call: 604-255-7999 or toll-free 1-855-255-7999