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What They Tell Us Postpartum Depression Is and What It Can Also Sound Like...

So you go to your 2-week postpartum OB-GYN appointment and you're handed a PHQ-9 questionnaire that asks you questions such as "do you have little or no pleasure in doing things?" and "have you been feeling irritable?". You're instructed to answer as accurately as you can. But really, how many of us are 100% truthful when it comes to these questionnaires?

It's not easy to admit that your postpartum experience is different from your friend's experience. Although there are many wonderful resources out there that teach moms about postpartum depression, social media platforms such as Instagram support the idea of the postpartum period being a "wonderful time in which mother and child form a special bond".

Postpartum depression is a type of mood disorder that can develop shortly after birth up to the first year after childbirth. It is more persistent and severe than "baby blues" which lasts for the first two weeks postpartum. Symptoms include persistent sadness, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, withdrawal from social activities, and irritability to name a few.

However, what's typically left out of these questionnaires is what postpartum depression can also look like. Sometimes postpartum depression can also sound like:

  • I haven't felt like myself lately.

  • I'm failing as a mother.

  • I feel off-balanced.

  • I don't have any energy left to go out/ contact friends.

  • I get mad over every small thing.

  • I can't focus on anything.

  • I don't feel close to my baby.

Therapy can provide a safe space for mothers (and fathers) to work through these thoughts and emotions. Moms can learn coping tools to help manage stress and adjust to the demands of being a new parent. Therapists can also help clients identify self-care strategies to implement during this new phase. Clients learn to identify their support network and work through any interpersonal issues.

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