Postpartum Mood Disorders
Sometimes though, this emotional state lasts beyond a few weeks. After four weeks, Dr. Olarté explains, some moms begin to feel like they cannot do anything right. They are filled with self-doubt, are agitated and exhausted, but suffer from insomnia. Their thoughts darken and they find themselves in a clinically depressed state. These women may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Michelle's daughter is now almost four months old, but Michelle still battles the effects of her postpartum depression. A successful and respected professional, she admits that she was completely unprepared for life with her infant. By the third week with her new child, Michelle was beside herself. The baby cried incessantly, and nothing would stop it. By week five, unable to eat, Michelle lost every ounce of weight she had gained during her pregnancy. "One night my husband tried to spoon feed me chocolate ice cream. I could barely get four teaspoons down," she recalls. At first, Michelle assumed that she was simply suffering from the baby blues and that all she needed was a good night's sleep. "I thought everyone goes through this and I'm just being a wimp," she said. Further conversations with relatives and friends led her to believe she was experiencing something different. At one point Michelle even contemplated taking her own life. "I lost all my coping skills," she reflects.
Michelle is not alone. Experts believe that at least one in 10 new mothers will experience a postpartum mood disorder. Sonia Murdock, president of Postpartum Support International, explains that postpartum depression is just one condition in this family of disorders. Women also suffer from postpartum panic/anxiety, postpartum obsessive/compulsive syndrome, and in the worst cases, postpartum psychosis. These mood disorders can appear within days of delivery, slowly over a few months, or even after a year. Symptoms of postpartum depression may include mood swings, anxiety, disturbances with sleep, feeling helpless and disconnected from the baby, a fear of losing control, and even suicidal thoughts.