More than Just Depression

Though depression is the most commonly talked about postpartum mood disorder, it is not the only one. As survivors of other mood disorders in addition to the well-known depression, we recognize the need for these to be talked about.

Postpartum Anxiety

            As mothers we feel like there are always a million and five things that need to be worried about after bringing a baby into the world. However, if your worries are interfering with your ability to function it is possible you are experiencing anxiety. Some symptoms of this may include:

·         Feeling something bad is going to happen to you or your baby

·         Constant worrying

·         Dizziness, nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations

·         Feeling like you can’t make your brain stop thinking

·         Disturbances in sleeping or eating due to worry

Postpartum OCD

            Some mothers feel like they cannot escape intrusive, irrational, or upsetting thoughts unless they do things repetitively. Postpartum ODC does not require a previous diagnosis of an anxiety or OCD disorder. Symptoms include:

·         Intrusive, persistent thoughts or mental images regarding the baby that are very upsetting

·         Doing things over and over in an attempt to reduce fears or intrusive thoughts. This could include feeling a need to clean obsessively, checking things many times, counting things such as baby’s breaths, or constantly reordering things

·         Fear of being left alone with baby

·         Hypervigilance in protecting baby, including preventing others to hold or touch baby out of fear

Postpartum onset Bipolar

            There are many women that are not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until after pregnancy. Bipolar disorder can present in two different phases, lows (depression) and highs (mania). These lows can lead to some women being diagnosed with depression when it is in fact bipolar. Bipolar 2 is most commonly associated with postpartum and may not present as severely as what comes to mind when someone thinks of being bipolar. Highs and lows may not be apparent to those experiencing them, but they are more so to those around them such as friends and family. Symptoms of this may include:

·         Severe depression or irritability

·         Much better mood than normal

·         Rapid speech

·         Little to no need for sleep

·         Continuous high energy

·         Racing thoughts or trouble concentrating

·         Delusions

·         Impulsiveness or poor judgement

·         Overconfidence


Postpartum Psychosis

            Seeing or hearing things other people are not, feeling as though others are out to get you, or experiencing highly unusual thoughts about yourself or your baby are all aspects of Postpartum psychosis. Psychosis is rather rare, but it can happen, and it should be addressed immediately through immediate medical attention. Acts of harm to either mother or baby are uncommon, given the mind-altering state of mental being, these can happen in those experiencing postpartum psychosis. Symptoms of this may include:

·         Delusions or strange beliefs that feel real to you

·         Hallucinations of either seeing or hearing things that are not truly there

·         Overwhelming confusion

·         Feeling disconnected from reality or your physical body

·         Paranoia or suspiciousness

·         Decreased need for or inability to sleep


If you believe you or your loved one are experiencing any of these mood disorders, we encourage you to reach out for support and assistance.

Information sourced from The Motherhood Center of New York and Postpartum Support International.