4. What was the worst symptom of postpartum depression for you?
The rage and anger were the worst. I just couldn’t handle basic emotions, so if anything got me even a little bit upset, I lost control. And then it would spiral and I would start to cry hysterically. I hated feeling so out of control. It was bad for me and it was bad for my kids because I probably scared them with all my yelling. – Vanessa
Anger and rage… extreme rage. Hating absolutely everything and having no connection, no love towards my children. – Anonymous
Intrusive thoughts have been, by far, the worst. I am a lot better but I still really struggle, even now. I have constant thoughts that my child will die, that I will kill them, that I will die and they’ll be alone, that they will be abused, etc. I recognize them now for what they are, but it’s still distressing. – Alexandra
Hallucinating and anger I would be so angry I would break things, scream or physically attack people in my mind. I felt the need to be in constant defense mode. – Amber
Feeling like I’m not a good mother and my son would be better off without me . – Anonymous
Feeling ashamed or like a failure. – Nicole
Intrusive thoughts. – Anonymous
Not feeling human, rolling constant panic attack that never stopped, waking up and immediately feeling a rush of doom, despair and chemical terror. – Brittany
The intrusive thoughts I had about my baby and I couldn’t do anything about them. – Jodi
Rage and despair. – Anonymous
The sadness. I can remember clearly the sadness which robbed me of my memories of my newborn. – Ashley G.
Not sleeping. – Anonymous
Intrusive thoughts – constantly imagining something bad happening to my kids is exhausting and so distressing. – Amanda
The crushing hopelessness that turned to rage because I couldn’t fix it. – Anonymous
Suicidal thoughts and the extreme anxiety – Katy
The anxiety and guilt. The worry and regret. I also had postpartum OCD. So the intrusive thoughts were pretty intense. – Samantha
That feeling of failure as a mother and wife.– Anonymous
Not having feelings or emotions. – Melissa
Anxiety and intrusive thoughts – Marcella
The rage and that I missed out on so much early bonding with my daughter. – Anonymous
Feelings of helplessness like I was trapped and couldn’t escape. – Emily
Imaging dark things, life driving my car into a tree. Also, having all of the time in the world to witness all my childless friends enjoy their summers through social media while I was stuck to a couch doing a miserable job at breastfeeding. – Lorena from Motherhood Unfiltered
The hopelessness. – Chelsea
It’s a symptom I still fight: the battle everyday to get up and do something. I usually lose the battle more days than not, but I am getting better. – Kathryn
Anger, withdrawal from everyone and everything – Anonymous
Currently, mood swings and feelings of failure or not being good enough for my kids and husband. – Krista
I actually had anxiety. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to get hit by a car so I could be hurt and rest. – Karen from Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health of Lancaster County
The irrational anger. When my PPD is at its worst, I get angry at the least little thing, and even though I know what is making me mad is ridiculous, I can’t let it go. The other biggie would be the mornings when I wake up mid panic attack. My husband has to bring my daughter to work with him on those days because it will be hours before I am able to mother effectively. – Leah Elizabeth from Lottie & Me
The reality that I had depression and I couldn’t do much about it. – Jessica
Anger. – Theresa
The worst symptom was my loss of connection with my son, who was 21 months old. I felt like I didn’t know him anymore and he elevated my rage and depression frequently—being with him was exhausting because I was doing everything in my power to stay in control . This is the worst part for me because I still carry so much guilt for pulling my little boy through the fire with me (figuratively). – Amanda from Mom Like Me
Loneliness- feeling like no one cared or helped when I needed it. No one even noticed because you just put on a happy face to try and cover up how you’re feeling inside! – Anonymous
Fleeting rage, not sleeping nor eating. Thinking my family was better off if I wasn’t here anymore. – Jacqueline from Planning in the Deep
Feeling disconnected and feeling like a failure – Haylie
Being SO irritable/angry all the time. – Crystal from Heart and Home Doula
Intrusive thoughts, wanting to harm myself. – Anonymous
Rage. – Anonymous
Getting annoyed and angry at my kids easily. – Anonymous
Disinterest in my baby. – Anonymous
Feeling like I couldn’t trust myself. – Eda
What does postpartum depression really look like?
It’s often portrayed as a sad mother who doesn’t want to hold her baby. In reality, the symptoms of postpartum depression are much more than that. Many mothers bond find with their babies so strongly that they struggle to connect with the rest of the outside world. Sometimes postpartum depression results in extreme emotions such as sorrow, rage and fear. Other times is deprives a person of expressing any emotions whatsoever.
What can we do to change this?
Don’t classify postpartum depression or any other perinatal mood and anxiety disorder into one defined set of symptoms. Mental illness is hard to diagnose because of the various ways it exhibits itself. If you feel unlike yourself, get checked out and be open and specific about what you’re experiencing. Keep a journal of your symptoms to help piece things together. And don’t compare your postpartum depression to anyone else’s – each person’s struggle is different but equally as tough.