How Do I know I Have It?
Common signs of Postpartum Depression
- Difficulty sleeping
- Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
- Lack of self care (such as not eating or emotional over-eating)
- Uncontrollable crying
- Feeling upset or angry over things that usually wouldn't bother you
- Depressed feelings or extreme mood swings
- Unable to enjoy your baby
- Feeling unfit or unable to care for your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Strong feelings of guilt, failure, worthlessness
- Panic attacks where you feel your heart is racing, you are out of breath or shaking and sweating
- Lack of interest in things that you usually enjoy
Women can develop anxiety disorder during or after pregnancy. Sometimes anxiety and depression are experienced together, but not always. It can be challenging figuring out what feelings are related to mood changes after the birth of the baby or if they are related to an anxiety disorder. These changes can be caused by a quick drop of your hormone levels after birth, pain and tiredness from your labour and birth, and not getting enough sleep looking after your baby for 24 hours a day. If you are having any of the following signs, which often indicate anxiety, speak to your health care provider:
- Depressed mood or extreme sadness
- Unrealistic or excessive worry
- Trembling, twitching or feeling shaky
- Easily tired
- Shortness of breath or smothering sensations
- Racing heart
- Sweating or cold, clammy hands
- Dizziness or light‑headedness
- Feeling keyed up or on edge
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Gas, constipation or diarrhea
- Easily startled
If you are thinking of hurting yourself, your baby, or others, contact HealthLink BC at 8‑1‑1 or your health care provider right away. Do not try to deal with depression by yourself. There are people who help women in this situation. Remember – this is common and can be treated.
Postpartum Depression ‑ Myths and Facts
You can 'snap' out of your depression
Depression will not affect your mothering skills or your baby
You won't recover from postpartum depression
Only "weak', 'lazy', or 'bad' mothers get depressed
Source: Adapted from the Self-Care Program for Women with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety from the BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre.
Why is it important for me to seek help?
Postpartum depression and anxiety can impact you physically and affect your emotions, thinking, and behaviours. It is important to get help. Without treatment, postpartum depression affects both you and your baby. A mother who is depressed for a long time can have difficulty bonding and caring for her baby. A mother’s depression can have effects on her baby’s sense of safety, security and love.
Treating depression early will lessen possible long term effects on both mother and baby. If you think you, your partner or family member may be experiencing postpartum depression, ask your health care provider or public health nurse for help. There are many effective supports and treatments that can help you. The best help usually comes from a mix of support from health care providers, family, friends, self‑help, and community connections.
For information on management, treatment and supports, click here.