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Hi there,

I need some help, please. My baby is seven months old now, and I have gone through periods of wondering whether I could have postpartum depression, but I am not sure. The thing I'm most concerned about is anxiety and being overwhelmed. I keep thinking that something bad will happen to my baby and that I am not a good mother, and getting out of the house is very difficult. I used to be a very outgoing and social person, but now, it just seems easier to stay in. I feel trapped, but can't seem to be able to make a change.

It doesn't quite match up with the ideas I have about what depression might be like. I don't feel suicidal. I don't cry or actively feel depressed, as in sad, down, or anything like that. But some of the postpartum depression signs checklists that I have read do seem to say that it could be me.

Could I have postpartum depression? How do you even know what's normal and what isn't? Please help.

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To start with, hugs. You're obviously going through a very tough time right now. 

Now, next, I wanted to tell you that there is such a thing as postpartum anxiety as well. I had my kids before all this was talked about much, but I know that I was feeling very anxious when they were little, and if I had kids today, I would say - there is no need to feel that way until it all goes away. I tried to self-remedy with exercise and interesting books, but in your case, now that postpartum depression and anxiety are well-known phenomena, I would strongly advise you to just talk to someone. Your family doctor, your OBGYN, even your pediatrician. They are all good bets. Just know that services are out there for you. All you have to do is take the first step. 

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Hey,

I get what you are saying. Having a baby is a huge existential transition, and, not having been a mother ever before, it is easy to convince yourself that the way you are feeling is just the normal state of motherhood for you, rather than postpartum depression.

Nobody can diagnose you through the internet and I am not sure you do have postpartum depression just from reading what you wrote, but it is clear that you are not doing too well right now. Your doctor's door is always open. I think that you should go and talk about how you are feeling. It will help you feel less alone, and if you do need treatment for postpartum depression, resources are available.

Hang in there.

Rosie

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You can get a good idea as to whether you have postpartum depression or not by checking the diagnostic criteria and seeing how many of them match you. A few, like not being able to sleep well, are going to apply to most new moms. Others, like a low mood, loss of interest in things that were important to you before, just feeling miserable all the time and not being able to concentrate, are more telling. 

If you do have quite a few of the signs of postpartum depression, you'll want to go in for formal diagnosis, after which you can get treatment. 

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Well, I knew something was wrong the minute I was in the bath, my children were making noise outside and the baby was crying, and I just kept thinking to myself, if only I could slip deeper into the water and drown in my bathtub. I would never have gone through with suicide, but I was thinking about it, and that is when I knew I needed help. 

My husband later told me he had known I had postpartum depression before I did, but he was scared to bring it up in case it made things worse. Perhaps you could ask yours what he thinks? 

Anyway, you do know, deep down, that something is wrong. You have just said so here. You also know, I assume, that it doesn't just get better, and that antidepressants can literally be a life saver in this situation. You know what you need to do next. 

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Hi again, 

I wanted to thank everyone who replied to my thread. 

Kiki, what you said really made the realities of postpartum depression hit home. I have never felt suicidal or fantasized about dying. I've never had any thoughts about harming or leaving my baby, either, which is another thing people often talk about when they talk about postpartum depression.

When I hear things like that, I think I'm just whining, and I really can't have postpartum depression. But I still feel, well, wrong. Maybe what I need is a change in my life. To go back to work. Not therapy and antidepressants. 

What do you think?

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No, that's not what I meant at all. :( I did have strong suicidal feelings. To be honest, I was afraid that I was neglecting my children as well, in my mental state at the time. There were honestly times where I did want to run out of the house and not look back, but I never followed through, and I did not contemplate actually harming my kids. 

But... you can have postpartum depression without the suicidal feelings. Not being suicidal doesn't mean that you aren't depressed! If you spend most of your days feeling empty, helpless, and hopeless, that is depression right there. Not being suicidal is no reason not to seek help, and I really hope you get the help you need. 

Hugs, mama. 

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Yeah, exactly. Suicidal and infanticidal thoughts are, as I understand it, the more extreme end of the postpartum depression spectrum. Just because you aren't thinking about death doesn't mean you are really living, you know what I am saying? Depression, in any form, whether postpartum or otherwise, robs you and those around you of the quality of life you deserve. The really sad thing is that this is not necessary. With therapy and antidepressant drugs where necessary, it is possible to claw yourself out of this dark cloud.

Can you remember what you used to feel like before you became depressed? You can go back there. But it's going to take help.

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The thing is - if you are asking yourself, and people on the web, whether what you are experiencing is postpartum depression, chances are that it is. I don't think people who don't have postpartum depression wonder whether they have it. 

I'm a mom myself and there were moments that were really tough. THAT is normal. I wished I could sleep more, and I most definitely got bored staying home with my baby and lacking intelligent conversation. It also took me time to adjust to the changed relationship dynamics, and it was hard to realize that my boyfriend had different ideas about parenting than I do, starting with sleep training and cosleeping. But I never once thought I had postpartum depression, because I didn't. 

If you are wondering if you have it, I think you can bet that you do. 

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