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You see a woman sitting on the edge of the bed wearing sweatpants, a lack-lustre t-shirt, messy hair, no makeup, a look of sadness, a faraway stare, and possibly tears trickling down. It is a typical visual of what most people think of women who may be suffering from postpartum depression. This is what television has taught us to believe and envision about depressed women in general. If we don’t see signs of sadness, crying or despair, then it’s not depression.
You may be surprised to know that one woman’s postpartum depression symptoms may be completely different from another’s. As a contradiction to popular belief, extreme sadness is rarely a symptom of postpartum depression. So how can you tell that you have it?
Rage and irritability
Rage and irritability are two of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression. When you feel that everything around you, for example, your new baby, your partner, the older children in the house are triggering emotions like anger and irritability, then you are possibly experiencing signs of postpartum depression. You may even want to yell or throw things. At some conscious level, you understand that your demeanour is becoming rough. Yet you are unable to control the feeling.
You may observe that your brain is just not functioning with proper clarity. You may notice additional signs such as difficulty in recalling things, inability to articulate emotions in words and face problems multi-tasking. Have a one-to-one with a professional as these may indicate postpartum depression.
With postpartum depression, you may feel that you are unable to control the thoughts that enter your mind. The thoughts could be extremely intrusive. It may even be termed as fearful. With these awful thoughts, it feels like you are walking around experiencing mini-nightmares in full consciousness. Whilst you may try to battle these thoughts, it continues to plague your mind, which is very upsetting.
Feeling of emptiness
Strong emotions like sadness, crying, and despair are commonly associated with postpartum depression. On the contrary, many women have reported having a feeling of emptiness inside. Notice if you are going about your daily chores in a mechanical fashion, not feeling anything apart from a stark numbness. If there’s a feeling of disconnect from things that you previously cared about and in the present condition you seem to be hovering over your life, looking down on it, but not really a part of it, then it’s time to seek professional help.
There are also physical symptoms that can manifest in a woman suffering from postpartum depression such as headaches, back pains, stomach upsets, nausea or even a panic attack.
Postpartum depression is common in women, but it is not normal. As a new mum, there are so many new things to experience and postpartum depression shouldn’t be one of them. However, if you are unable to control the way you feel, reach out to your doctor. With effective treatment, you will be on your route to recovery.