When 32-year-old Florence Leung found out that she was expecting a baby boy, she was over the moon with joy. Sadly, shortly after giving birth, she began suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).
According to Postpartum Progress, one in seven new and pregnant moms suffer from postpartum depression, yet it's something that's rarely discussed in mainstream culture. As a result, many women feel that they have to hide the disorder without seeking the help they so desperately need. In some cases, this fear of exposure can be fatal.
Just two months after her son was born, Leung disappeared. A few weeks later, she was found dead near her home in an apparent suicide. Friends and family were devastated. Had they missed warning signs of PPD?
Katherine Stone, CEO and founder of Postpartum Progress, recently sat down with Today to share four signs of PPD that everyone should watch for in new and expecting moms. As someone who has suffered from the disorder firsthand, she knows exactly what she's talking about.
1. Uncontrollable Feelings Of Rage
A little irritability is to be expected when you're uncomfortably pregnant or caring for a fussy baby, but if a new mom is suffering from uncontrollable rage, it could be a warning sign of PPD. Red flags include things like flying off the handle, screaming and cursing, and getting upset for illogical reasons.
If these are especially out of character for your loved one, encourage them to seek professional help immediately. Remember, it's not them that's to blame, but hormones that are coursing through their body.
2. Extreme Anxiety
Every new parent worries about their baby, but extreme anxiety coupled with irrational fear is a symptom of PPD that should not be ignored.
Stone shared that in her case, she was afraid to bathe her newborn son. As unreasonable as it sounds, she was terrified that he would drown. Over time, these types of fears will wear a person down, both mentally and physically.
3. Withdrawing From The World
Although it's perfectly normal for moms to want to spend as much time as possible at home with their newborns, completely withdrawing from the world could be a sign that something more serious is going on. Failing to return phone calls, visit with close friends and family, or communicate with their partner are all signs of PPD.
As Stone said, "If she's not communicating like before and seems sort of closed down -- that's something we can all see in people, if we start paying attention."
4. Changes In Sleeping And/Or Eating Patterns
There are definitely going to be changes in everyone's sleeping and eating patterns with a new baby in the house, but that said, insomnia, eating too much, and/or eating too little can severely affect one's health in just a short amount of time.
Instead of just asking what you can do, make concrete plans to take the baby for a walk or out to run errands while mom gets some shut eye or enjoys a soothing bath. Sometimes moms just need some alone time to get their heads straight, but if the issue persists, don't hesitate to seek professional help.