There are so many misconceptions when it comes to postpartum depression. And one of the things that is rarely talked about is that anger is a symptom of postpartum depression.
Many women describe it as intense anger or rage. This can be anger like you’ve never experienced before. Oftentimes, mothers feel scared by it because it feels so out of character for them.
For others, it may be milder and show up more as irritability. You may feel like everyone and everything is irritating you. No matter how mild or intense your anger may be, it still is a symptom of postpartum depression.
So what does postpartum anger/rage look like? If you’ve experienced it, there’s no mistaking it. You feel it in your body and are reacting before you can even think about what’s going on.
Common things that can set it off are lack of sleep, older kids not listening, or having difficulty being able to do something because of the baby/kids (especially basic things like eating, being able to use the bathroom). Husbands or partners are another common trigger for anger, as many women feel resentful that their spouse is able to go about their day, with the baby having little affect on their normal routine.
If you are experiencing anger, please be gentle with yourself. So many mothers feel guilty and ashamed of feeling this way. Anger is just another feeling. It’s a symptom of postpartum depression.
It is not a reflection of who you are as a mother or a new person you have become.
It is a symptom and needs to be treated as such. In the same way that you might treat a fever or pulled muscle with medication or rest, so should you treat your symptom of anger.
Consider what is setting it off. This will help you to think about what needs to be addressed in your life. If lack of sleep is triggering it, can you get some time to sleep during the day or someone to relieve you at night? If your older child's behavior is frustrating you, can a family member or friend take him/her out and give you a break for a while?
If you feel like you can’t make any sense of it or don't even know where to start, reach out for help. Contact me today to discuss your concerns.
Not local? There are a lot of trained professionals specializing in postpartum depression that can help you sort this out. You can find directories here:
Postpartum Support Intnernational
Laura Winters, LCSW is a therapist specializing in infertility and prenatal/postpartum stress. Laura's practice is located in Chatham and Mountain Lakes, NJ.