10 Early Signs of Prenatal and Postpartum Depression to Look Out For

One in ten women suffer from prenatal and postpartum depression

By: Amanda Mushro
Stressed mother and her baby.

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Stressed mother and her baby.

Photo by: SolStock

SolStock

Finding out you’re going to be a parent is supposed to be the most wonderful time in your life. It’s supposed to be filled with nine glowing months of growing your baby and being excited as you and your little one start your new life together. However, pregnancy is hard — emotionally and physically, and the newborn stage – it’s exhausting. For many women, pregnancy and the months after giving birth can feel overwhelming, full of anxiety, and not at all what they expected.

As many as one in ten women have symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression. While women are more openly talking about their experiences so other moms don’t have to suffer, these parts of motherhood can feel very isolating.

There are many early signs of prenatal and postpartum depression that you and your support system (your partner, family, friends, and doctors) can be on the lookout for and check in with you if any of these symptoms appear. While these aren’t the only symptoms, they are common early signs.

While you are pregnant:

  1. Excessive Anxiety: Every mom-to-be is nervous about having a new baby, but if your thoughts are often racing, anxious feelings are keeping you up at night, and this is making it hard to function during the day, or these feelings are more intense than previous pregnancies or other stressful situations in your life, let your partner, friends, and doctors know how you are feeling.
  2. Trouble Sleeping and Concentrating: While pregnancy can cause insomnia at night or "pregnancy brain" when you’re trying to focus during the day, if it starts to feel like sleeping and concentrating is getting harder and it is affecting you and your day-to-day life, make sure your doctor knows.
  3. Struggling with Your Body Changing: During pregnancy, our bodies change in ways we could never imagine. From our head to our toes, our bodies quickly feel like they’ve become someone else’s. If you’re finding this hard to manage, it’s important to talk to someone.
  4. Anger and Rage: If the most minor inconveniences are setting you off and it's happening more often, it could be more than just one bad day. Anger and rage are two sneaky early signs of prenatal depression.
  5. Feeling Guilty: Mom guilt can be overwhelming – even when you’re pregnant. If the guilt is making your days and nights harder, don’t wait. Talk to someone about your feelings.

After having your baby:

  1. When the "Baby Blues" Don’t Go Away: Many new moms can expect to feel sad, overwhelmed, and cry a lot in the first month after having a baby. This period is often referred to as the "baby blues" and it is attributed to hormones and exhaustion. However, if you begin to feel hopeless and those feelings don’t go away or get worse, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
  2. Too Much or Not Enough Sleep: Those first few months of having a newborn can mean very little sleep for you. However, early warning signs you should watch for are if you’re sleeping all day long. Also, the reverse – if you can’t sleep even when you’re exhausted and the baby is sleeping.
  3. Drastic Mood Swings: If you find yourself going from calm to angry to crying and feeling hopeless easily and quickly, talk about these mood swings with those around you who are helping and supporting you.
  4. Physical Pains: Headaches, muscle aches and pains, stomach pains, and changes in appetite can all be physical signs of postpartum depression.
  5. Withdrawing: If you find yourself withdrawing from your baby, your other kids, your family and friends, reach out to your doctor.

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