What Postpartum Depression Actually Looks Like...

Sep 05, 2023

If you’re reading this you’ve probably at some point entered the phrase “what does postpartum depression look like” or “what are the symptoms of postpartum depression” into Google and you would have quickly been provided with a variety of websites with lists of symptoms that may feel either really general or not specific or clear enough. Leaving still the question, what does postpartum depression or PPD actually look like?

For me, and so many of the new mamas I work with, postpartum depression looked like smiles, showing up at family events, and seeming well… "okay." But behind closed doors, there were days filled with feelings of emptiness, no energy or care to do anything unless I had to in order to keep up the façade that I was okay, and just not feeling like myself. Instead, I had been replaced with someone who didn’t want to do anything (unless I was making myself), I was easily irritated, and then in complete shame for all of it because this was not who I was. Every day I felt like I was failing my daughter and becoming more distant from my husband and myself. And still, I never once thought I was depressed. Looking back, it’s crazy to me, but this is not uncommon. I meet so many new moms who believe exactly what I did…. I believed I was the problem, not that I was experiencing a problem.

So how can you tell if you might have postpartum depression (PPD) outside of the list of sterile symptoms online? Here are a few common things you might be experiencing…

  • You may feel like you are faking being okay whether it’s with makeup, how you dress, forcing yourself to smile, pushing through things when internally you are dragging yourself through every moment, or maybe it looks like actually telling people okay or even “great!” when you know deep down you’re anything but okay
  • You may feel disconnected emotionally from yourself and/or others
  • You may feel like you don’t care about things, events, or people that you know you actually do really care about
  • Everything may feel like it takes a ton of effort or feels much harder than it seems like it should
  • Everything may sound exhausting or overwhelming
  • You may feel irritable, easily annoyed, or experience rage
  • You may want to lay in bed or just do nothing most days
  • You may feel sad, cry, feel or hopeless often
  • You may find yourself overeating or undereating to cope with stress or the feelings you are having
  • You may feel overwhelming guilt and shame for not being able to show up the way you want to as a mom, partner, friend, or individual
  • You may feel hollow
  • You may feel like it’s never going to get better or you’re just a “bad mom”

If you, or another mom you know, are experiencing these symptoms you may feel a little scared or maybe relieved there’s a name for it, or you might find yourself feeling a mix of things. All of these feelings are okay. So often we meet new moms who think so many of these things are normal parts of motherhood, but they are not. These are all symptoms. Oftentimes times we meet new mamas as the months have passed when they expected to start feeling better but didn't. They may have thought, once my baby is "X months old" or "sleeping X hours straight" or "Maybe I just need to keep trying harder" or something else, and when they reached the moment where they were expecting things to get better and they didn't they started to wonder if it might be something else. If you can relate to any of this, you're not alone. We've been there too and this stuff truly can get better. And when you’re ready, we'd love to be part of your supportive community to help you start feeling like yourself and truly enjoying motherhood and life again. We offer therapy, supportive coaching, and two online courses to support you in your postpartum journey. You don't have to do this alone. You got this mama.


Sending Love,

Sasha McPherson, LMFT and mom of two

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