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Before we dive into what postpartum depression feels like, and what you can do about it, let’s take a look at some statistics.

One recent study found that out of the 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States almost 600,000 mothers will be diagnosed with postpartum depression. In addition, when including women who had a stillbirth or miscarried, the number of diagnosed mothers reaches 900,000.

However, if you add the women who never report their symptoms, or the women who don’t know what postpartum depression feels like, the numbers could be much higher than this. 

Did you know that you can begin to experience postpartum depression symptoms during pregnancy? It is believed that up to 50% of women who develop postpartum depression after giving birth experience some symptoms during pregnancy. Therefore, early symptom recognition is imperative for prompt treatment. If left untreated, postpartum depression can wreak havoc on your motherhood experience, and it can even affect the development of your child.

Postpartum depression feels like being left alone to survive on a deserted island with no tools. And on this island most days are rainy and gray.  

When you suffer from postpartum depression, you are filled with self-doubt and self-judgement. You scrutinize your motherhood abilities, and focus on your failures. Your mind is flooded with negative thoughts that make it very difficult to enjoy being a new mom. As a result, you feel guilty for your lack of happiness with being a mother, and for your perceived shortcomings.

As a first time mom, I suffered from postpartum depression and I never got help for it. I didn’t know I had it until my second child was born. That’s when I was able to see myself as the good, caring mother I was. The birth of my second child made me realize what healthy motherhood was like.

Now that I look back on my first pregnancy, the signs of postpartum depression were there early on. They showed up mid-pregnancy, and further developed after giving birth. Had I been aware of what I was feeling, I could have avoided a lot of suffering. And I could have been a better mother for my daughter.

Here are the signs of postpartum depression I missed during pregnancy and after birth…

During pregnancy:

  • Lack of excitement
  • Feeling low
  • Lack of motivation to prepare for baby’s arrival
  • Moody and needy
  • Lack of connection with the fetus

After birth:

  • Inability to bond with child
  • Wishing I never became a mother
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Oversensitivity to well meaning advice
  • Inability to cope with motherhood
  • Guilt

And 10 things I learned about postpartum depression after having three kids…

  1. It is more common than I thought.
  2. It distorts the reality of motherhood.
  3. You can mistake it for “baby blues” (“baby blues” should not last longer than 14 days after birth).
  4. You are not a bad mother for having postpartum depression.
  5. Don’t rely on your care provider to spot your postpartum depression symptoms.
  6. Antidepressants are not always necessary for treating postpartum depression.
  7. Postpartum depression can resolve itself over time, but I would not recommend waiting it out.
  8. You will have a hard time bonding with your child as long as you leave it unaddressed.
  9. When you suffer from postpartum depression you tend to socially isolate yourself.
  10. Once you get a grip on your postpartum depression you will feel liberated. 

Plus, 5 Tips: 

-Be ever observant of your feelings, thoughts and emotions during pregnancy and postpartum.

-Be aware of biological, social and lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of developing postpartum depression. 

-Learn the difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression.

-Don’t be ashamed to talk about how you’re feeling as a new mom. 

-Ask for help, and accept when others offer to help you during pregnancy or after birth.

Finally, my advice for mothers who suspect they may be experiencing postpartum depression symptoms is to talk about it. Begin by confessing your thoughts and feelings to the people you feel most comfortable with. Do it sooner rather than later. It is never too early to get the conversation about postpartum depression going. Surround yourself with supportive people, and avoid social isolation. Please remember, there is a way out of postpartum depression if you are aware of it. 

This article was originally published at Inspo Place.