Signs and Symptoms
You should consider seeking professional help if you have had one of more of the following feelings for two weeks or more and they are impacting negatively on the way you usually function:
- Inability to enjoy activities you previously enjoyed
- Unable to concentrate, make decisions or get things done
- High arousal level and irritability
- Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, constant headaches, sweaty hands, loss of appetite
- Feeling numb, hopeless and remote from family and friends
- Feeling out of control, or ‘crazy’, even hyperactive
- Unable to rest even when baby is sleeping; tired on awakening
- Nightmares and/or flashbacks of difficult birth events
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the birth
- Thoughts of harm befalling yourself, baby or partner
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or repetitive thoughts
- Feeling trapped or in a dark hole or tunnel with no escape
- Feelings of grief, loss, anger, tearfulness
- Feeling lethargic or hyperactive
Other conditions which may present with similar symptoms to a lesser or greater extent include:
It is normal to feel a range of emotions while navigating through this period of transition. Roles are often redefined as parents learn to manage the emotional and physical stresses and the ups and downs of life with a new baby. Parents who are experiencing adjustment disorders may benefit from speaking with an understanding professional who can help by listening, putting these feelings in context and providing some practical ideas.
Anxiety may present as generalised anxiety or ‘worry’, phobias (fears) or panic attacks.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
repetitive and intrusive thoughts which may be related to aspects of the birth experience. Women may also have flashbacks to past trauma or mental health issues and may try to avoid or block out situations, thoughts and feelings that trigger these flashbacks. Professional counselling can help to alleviate these thoughts.
occurs in a very small percentage of women affecting 1 in 1000 women but requires acute professional support as the mother develops an altered sense of reality.
Postpartum Tracking Chart
Created by Dr. Julie Bindeman, this Postpartum Chart is a guide to track if you are impacted by emotional concerns postpartum. If you are concerned, please consult your GP.