Post-Partum Depression: When to see a counselor?
These questions come up a lot when people learn that I specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, "How do you know it's depression and not the baby blues"? Won't this go away on it's own? Can't I handle this on my own? Why do I need to talk to a professional? Or even "What's wrong with me, I don't like being a mom"?
And sometimes from therapy seekers themselves, who've googled the symptoms and taken a test, only to cry and retake it three more times, just to be sure.
In case you haven't done it, here's a pretty general list from the American Psychiatric Association.
Depression, perinatal or otherwise, typically means you're more than sad. You've changed how you function as a whole.
You feel tired constantly, but can't sleep. Or you sleep way too much. You don't enjoy anything anymore, how could you when you feel like a failure at everything? Maybe you're not sad, maybe you're angry.
I can recall crying for what felt like hours, and having no energy for anything. Then I'd feel horribly guilty and ashamed - I'm supposed to love being a mom. I'm supposed to be cherishing every moment. Instead I just wanted to sleep and not wake up. And that was when I could think, when my brain wasn't foggy. Which felt like most of the day.
The typical "Baby Blues" lasts for about 2 weeks after delivery. Most moms, something like 80%, get tired from adjusting to life with a newborn, naturally. They feel tired, but happy overall.
Depression after delivery, or Post Partum, usually lasts longer. It can go on for years if left untreated. It might impact your ability to bond with your baby, access the support you need, or add stress to your relationship. It impacts about 1 in 5 of moms.
And Dads aren't immune either! Dads with depressed partners are 50% more likely to become depressed themselves!
Yeah, Yeah, but when should I seek help?
If you've experienced these symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, it's time for help.
If you don't feel like yourself, it's time for help.
If you've thought about hurting yourself or the baby, it's time for help.
If you've been unable to care for yourself or baby, it's time for help.
Motherhood isn't a competition, and you have nothing to prove to anyone.
"You are not alone, You are not to blame. Help is available. You will get better."
The best resource to find help and support for Postpartum depression is Postpartum Support International, who's message is "You are not alone. You are not to blame. Help is available. You will get better." Learn more at: https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/depression/