• The Scariest Symptom of Postpartum Depression Is Rage. Here's What You Need to Know

    Step one: acknowledge that it is real. If it’s scaring you, seek help.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • The Scariest Symptom of Postpartum Depression Is Rage. Here's What You Need to Know
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  • The period after giving birth is a trying time for any mother. The pressure to breastfeed and take care of the baby, the lack of sleep, and the lack of time to focus on yourself can be overwhelming. So overwhelming that it can generate a boatload of emotions — anxiety, guilt, and anger. Waves of pulsing, uncontrollable, and explosive anger.

    Often, the anger can’t be explained. Even the smallest things, like your husband’s loud chewing (that you used to find to be such a sweet quirk) can trigger it. Carolyn Wagner, an American therapist specializing in maternal mental health, describes it in Mother.ly as “anger so intense it shouldn’t even be called just ‘anger.’ The kind that sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are exploding,”

    It has a name — postpartum rage. It’s a scary symptom of postpartum depression (PPD) that many chalks up to a woman’s raging hormones, but any mom who has experienced it will know that it’s very worrying. In fact, it’s downright scary.

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    “Anger is one of the most troubling symptoms of PPD because it’s usually quite uncharacteristic for the woman experiencing it,” says Karen Kleiman, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center in the United States, to Baby Center. “It can make you feel as though you’re slipping out of control: Even moms who say they would never hurt their baby or themselves may fear that something dreadful will result from their anger.”

    So what can we do about it? Wagner says that the first step is to not just treat it as a feeling that will go away on its own — you must assess where it’s coming. “In the case of postpartum rage, I often find that the anger is alerting us to feelings of being overwhelmed, resentment at not being appreciated or acknowledged by those close to us, isolation from our usual social supports, uncertainty about acclimating to our new life as a mom, and guilt related to our perceived failures in mothering,” she writes.

    Once you’ve come to terms with the feeling, the next step is to know that you are not alone. Postpartum rage is a common symptom of postpartum depression and anxiety. But Wagner says very few women talk about it because “it seems safer to talk about the feelings of sadness than acts of anger.” After all, who would understand why you would get angry about anything and everything?

    To address your emotions, consider tracking your “episodes,” advises Wagner. What was happening when you felt the feeling of rage? Where were you and who were you with? How tired were you? How did you feel before the anger crept in?

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    “If you can begin to notice a pattern, or situations that tend to bring out the rage, it can help to clue you in on the underlying issues that are being expressed in your anger,” says Wagner.

    What about when you’re experiencing it right here, right now? The easiest thing to do is to get yourself out of the situation that’s making you furious, says Kleiman. “Go to another room and take deep, slow breaths or splash cold water on your face,” she adds.

    But if you feel like your emotions are getting out of hand, consider seeking professional help. Don’t suffer alone. “Your OB, midwife, primary care physician, or therapist would all be great places to start exploring options,” Wagner says. Or if you’re still not ready for that big step, try and reach out to someone you trust, someone you know will talk to you without judgment.

    The different emotions that you undergo post-baby can be terrifying, but it doesn’t make you a bad mother. You don’t have to struggle on your own. Reach out and take control of the situation. The only way to get through it is acknowledging that what you’re feeling is real and know that with help from the right people, you’re going to be okay.

    [h/t: Mother.ly]

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