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April 25, 2024

April 25, 2024

How to Know When It’s Time to Seek a Postpartum Depression Therapist

How to Know When It’s Time to Seek a Postpartum Depression Therapist

It can be hard to know when you’re experiencing postpartum depression or when to seek help. Discover how you can determine if you could benefit from working with a postpartum depression therapist. 

Becoming a mom is a major adjustment–a time in your life when you become a new person overnight. Between new worries and responsibilities, uncertainty on how to navigate challenges, sleep deprivation, and hormonal shifts, it’s normal and common to experience some struggle. 

So, how do you know what’s typical or what could be a sign of postpartum depression? And how do you know when you need to find a postpartum depression therapist? 

Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues

Most moms experience some amount of “baby blues,” including mild mood swings, unprompted weepiness, or an anxious feeling. 

But it’s important to understand the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression (and to not write off our symptoms as baby blues). Baby blues typically only occur during the first two weeks postpartum. As your hormones start to stabilize, the symptoms go away. 

This is different than postpartum depression (PPD), a clinical, often long-term form of depression that occurs during the perinatal period. 

Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Depressed mood, sadness, or crying
  • Mood swings, ranging from mild to severe
  • Irritability or anger
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal or avoidance
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue or lack or energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide*

*If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s important to seek emergency help right away. 

(It’s also important to note that postpartum depression is markedly different than postpartum psychosis–a much more severe postpartum mood disorder that requires immediate treatment. If you or someone you know is experiencing breaks from reality, hallucinations, or paranoid thoughts, seek emergency care immediately). 

PPD typically onsets within the first three months after a baby is born, but can begin any time within the first year postpartum. If your symptoms are persisting beyond two weeks, you can likely rule out baby blues. 

Why and When to Contact a Postpartum Depression Therapist

It’s common for moms to put off seeking help from a postpartum depression therapist for many reasons. 

They might worry about the stigma of mental health concerns or fear that asking for help means they are failing. Or they might not know if their symptoms are severe enough to need treatment. Many of them might falsely believe that they can just “wait it out” until the postpartum period is over. 

But the truth is that seeking help early is often the best thing you can do for yourself, your baby, and your entire family. It isn’t a sign of a failure or a weakness–it takes strength to recognize and advocate for your needs. 

Research shows that up to 25% of moms with moderate to severe PPD still have symptoms three years later. 

“Waiting it out” can leave you needlessly suffering, likely for longer than you might think. Research shows that up to 25% of moms with moderate to severe PPD still have symptoms three years later. 

That’s why it’s important to know when to seek support–and to reach out to a postpartum depression therapist if any of these situations feel familiar to you:

You’re Experiencing Uncharacteristic Anger

Postpartum rage is one of the most overlooked symptoms of postpartum depression. If you are experiencing sudden or extreme irritability or anger, it might be your body’s way of crying out for help. 

Maternal anger is not always a sign of PPD. It can also be triggered by sleep deprivation, pressure, overstimulation, or overwhelm. A postpartum depression therapist can help you identify where your anger is coming from and develop coping strategies for any of these forms of rage. 

You’re Not Enjoying Motherhood

We often enter motherhood with expectations of love, nurturing, bonding and joy. But it’s actually typical to experience some challenging days. Despite a society that tells you to “love every minute of it,” most moms have plenty of moments they don’t love. 

Moms with postpartum depression, however, often express a feeling of just muddling through or going through the motions, feeling numb, or a depressed or low mood that lasts throughout the entire day. 

You deserve to enjoy motherhood, and to be well. 

If you are experiencing a persistent lack of enjoyment, PPD could be the cause. You deserve to enjoy motherhood, and to be well. 

You’re Feeling Overwhelmed–All the Time

New parents are no strangers to overwhelm. After all, the transition into parenthood is all-encompassing and stressful. It can feel jarring to be needed 24/7, and to not feel like you have time to take care of yourself. 

But if your feelings of overwhelm are persistent or debilitating, and you’re wondering how you can keep coping, it could be time to reach out to a postpartum depression therapist. 

You’re Doubting Your Worth as a Mom

We all feel uncertain at times in new motherhood. But if you're plagued by feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy as a mother, it could be time to seek professional help. 

A postpartum depression therapist can help you manage your symptoms so you can start to build confidence and assuredness in motherhood. 

You’re Withdrawing or Avoiding Your Baby or Other Family Members

A lack of initial bonding with a baby can be frightening to new parents–but that lack of bond right away isn’t a cause for concern by itself. 

However, if that feeling continues, and you notice yourself withdrawing from your baby or family, experiencing a desire to isolate, or feeling a lack of interest in social interactions, it could be a sign of PPD. 

You’re Experiencing Physical Symptoms

PPD can also manifest physically. If you notice changes in your appetite, sleep disturbances even when you are able to carve out rest for yourself, or unexplained aches and pains, it might be time to contact a postpartum depression therapist. 

You’re Just Not Feeling Like Yourself

Symptoms of postpartum depression can often feel very subtle or get lost in the shuffle of new motherhood. Sometimes the primary sign is that you just feel disconnected or not like yourself, even if you can’t pinpoint why. 

Sometimes the primary sign is that you just feel disconnected or not like yourself. 

If you feel a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy, find yourself behaving in ways that feel unusual to you, or simply just don’t feel like yourself, it’s a strong indicator that you might be struggling with PPD. 

How Can a Postpartum Depression Therapist Help?

The great news about PPD is that it is highly treatable. While there isn’t a go-to “cure” for depression, most moms who seek treatment make a full recovery. 

A postpartum depression therapist can offer a range of treatments, including a safe space to express feelings and work through emotional distress, and tools for lifestyle changes to manage and reduce symptoms. They can also help you create a postpartum support plan to call in help from friends and family or prioritize your sleep, which can play a large role in your recovery. 

Sometimes, postpartum depression therapists may also suggest medication or refer you to a psychiatrist for medication management. 

Therapy sessions can be tailored to your specific needs, focusing on cognitive-behavioral techniques to adjust negative thought patterns and strategies to cope with stress and anxiety.

Why It’s Important to Find a Therapist Who Specializes in Postpartum Depression

Finding a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression is crucial because they understand the unique challenges and emotional dynamics of new mothers. They also have additional training to understand the way hormones impact mental health. 

Maternal mental health therapists can provide a safe, judgment-free space for you to be vulnerable, open, and honest about your experience. 

These therapists are equipped with the specific knowledge and tools to provide the most effective support and treatment for women facing PPD.

That’s why all of our Momwell therapists are required to train and certify through Postpartum Support International, so they can provide the valuable support new moms need during this vulnerable time. 

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for a Crisis to Seek a Postpartum Depression Therapist

We’ve worked with countless struggling new moms, and one of the most common things we hear is, “I wish I would have sought help sooner.”

You don’t have to be experiencing debilitating depression to seek help. In fact, getting support and treatment earlier can help you get back to feeling like you even sooner. 

It’s never too early to reach out for help. And remember, when a mom is well, a baby is well–seeking help from a postpartum depression therapist could be the best choice you ever make for you and your baby! 

Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult with one of our qualified maternal mental health specialists today!


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