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Postpartum Depression

Feeling Guilty
By Karen Kleiman, MSW
Karen KleimanQ. My baby is four months old. I was very sensitive after she was born. I went back to work a month ago. A couple of weeks before I started, I began losing my hair, I was very tired at night and felt so much pressure to be a good mother and a good wife. When I come home from work, I want to stay with my baby, but I also want to make a good dinner for my husband, even when he doesn't make a problem about that and offers me all his help. My mother lives close to me, and she is a big help; she babysits my little one and gives me a lot of support, but I can't stop feeling guilty for not doing everything as good as I want. I haven't talked to my doctor because I hadn't paid any attention to my symptoms, until I read a post on the bulletin board.

A. Although it's always hard to know for certain what is going on, there are a couple of things to consider when a new mom tells me she just doesn't feel like herself. First of all, I take this very seriously, because I strongly believe that a woman is the best judge of how she is feeling and how she thinks she "should" be feeling, so it's rarely reassuring to hear friends or family or health professionals say things like, "Oh, you'll be fine, you just had a baby, just relax and you'll be back to your old self." Well, sometimes this may prove true, but generally, it doesn't.

It sounds like you have some very high expectations of yourself and I suspect this held true before your baby was born, too. Tendencies toward perfectionism combined with a deep desire to do the best you can do, can lead women down a difficult path when they are constantly disappointed.

Some women who may be feeling pretty good most of time and functioning well, don't realize that persistent feelings of guilt, disappointment, loss, and worry, for example, can also be indications of a mild depression. It's important that you do talk with your doctor and address this so you can start to get some relief. It's also important for all postpartum women to have a physical, with particular attention to blood sugar and thyroid functioning, both which can potentially create symptoms that mimic depression/anxiety if there is dysfunction in those areas.

So take care of this and try not to be so hard on yourself. You are entitled to feel good so do what you have to do to get the help you need.

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