Don’t Downplay Your Symptoms – Get Help for Your Mental Health

May 4 is World Maternal Mental Health Day. It’s estimated that 7 out of 10 women or people with a uterus hide or downplay their symptoms of mental illness, despite the fact that support and treatment is not only available, but critical to their health. As many as 1 in 5 people experience some kind of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD). Left untreated, mental health disorders can lead to physical pain, chronic illness, homelessness, job instability, incarceration, and death. To get help, you must first be able to recognize the symptoms. 

Signs of Maternal Mental Health Disorders

Emotional symptoms — feeling:

  • Irritable or angry
  • Guilty, ashamed
  • Depressed
  • Anxious or worried and nothing calms you down
  • Hopeless
  • Restless
  • Like everything is an effort
  • Sad and nothing cheers you up
  • Worthless
  • Like things you used to enjoy are no longer interesting
  • Unable to look forward to anything
  • Like blaming yourself when things go wrong 
  • Scared or panicky for unidentifiable or unreasonable reasons
  • Difficulty bonding with baby

Physical symptoms:

  • Tired for no reason
  • Eating significantly more or less than usual
  • Unable to stop crying
  • Difficulty or unable to sleep

Mental symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Thoughts or worries of harming yourself or your baby
  • Upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind
  • Feeling out of control or “crazy”

Saying/thinking things like:

  • I worry all the time.
  • I’m a failure.
  • Having a baby was a mistake.
  • I never should have become a mother/parent.
  • I’m not bonding with my baby.
  • I don’t feel like bonding with my baby.
  • I know I should feel something, but I don’t. 
  • I’m afraid to be alone with my baby.
  • I feel like the worst mother/parent in the world.
  • I’m having thoughts that are scaring me.
  • I’m exhausted but can’t sleep, even when my baby sleeps.
  • Everything would be better if I just got a good night’s sleep.
  • I’m supposed to be happy… why do I feel sad/overwhelmed/anxious/numb?
  • My baby/family would be better off without me.

(Sources: Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, Maternal Mental Health Now)

How to Get the Support You Need for Mental Health Conditions

If you’re experiencing an emergency mental health crisis, which includes thoughts of suicide and harm to yourself or your baby, call 911, text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the U.S., and/or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you are not in immediate danger, but need treatment:

  1. Talk to your spouse/partner or a close family member or friend if it’s safe to do so. Let them know what you’re experiencing and that you need support.
  2. Contact your doctor or health care provider, tell them what you’re experiencing, and request an appointment. 
  3. If you have a therapist, make an appointment and let them know what’s going on. 
  4. Find additional support and resources at postpartum.net, the Postpartum Support International (PSI) website. The PSI helpline can be reached at 1-800-944-4773 (not for emergency use – call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for a crisis). 

 

 

FOR SUPPORT AND RESOURCES:

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is the world’s leading organization in providing hope and help to mothers, fathers, and families affected by maternal mental health challenges.

PSI staff and trained volunteers respond to calls, emails, and text messages, providing connections to local resources.

PSI provides FREE online support groups and a listing of mental health providers who specialize in treating maternal mental health conditions.

PSI has volunteers who specialize in supporting

dads and partners

queer parents

adoptive parents and birth mothers

incarcerated women

military families

families with a baby in the NICU

families who suffer grief and loss surrounding pregnancy

PSI Contact information

Call 800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453

Visit www.postpartum.net

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