Postpartum Depression in High Performers: How To Recognize the Signs and Get Help

Pregnancy is a process. And not a simple one.

Over the course of nine months, your pregnant body is shifting in countless ways to nurture and then prepare to birth a growing child.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Many parts of the process—many of these shifts—are obvious. We can clearly see or feel changes to our body. But there are so many more changes that aren’t obvious at all.

And, in fact, with our focus so heavily on the ones we can see, as well as on preparing for a new family member and keeping up with our everyday life, we can easily forget there’s so much more happening under the surface.

In reality, there’s even more happening than we fully understand. Postpartum depression tends to be under-researched and, still, under-diagnosed.

What we do know is that pregnancy involves incredibly complex hormonal and neurobiological changes, changes to thyroid function, and more. Genetics and epigenetics also play a role—so the specific things that happen in any single person’s body during pregnancy are truly as unique as their DNA.1

The takeaway here is this: experiencing prolonged anxiety or depression after pregnancy, otherwise known as postpartum depression, can be due to any number of biological factors, totally out of our control.

Postpartum depression is never your fault.

And there is absolutely help.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Bringing a new baby home is a huge transition—whether it’s your first child or not. Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or a little sad isn’t unusual.

But intense symptoms and/or ones that last for more than two weeks could be a sign of postpartum depression. If you are experiencing any of the following, give your doctor, nurse, or midwife a call:

  • Feelings of sadness, guilt, restlessness, or hopelessness
  • Significant mood swings
  • Thoughts of harm toward yourself, your child, or your family
  • Trouble connecting with your new baby or feelings of disinterest toward your baby
  • Little to no energy or motivation for or interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Significant changes to your sleep or eating patterns
  • Brain fog, or difficulty concentrating, focusing, or making decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Significantly heightened feelings of anxiety or fixation on the safety of your baby or family
  • Physical symptoms like persistent headaches, stomach issues, or body aches

If you experience any of the following, you might be struggling with something called postpartum psychosis. In this case, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there
  • Paranoia or extreme confusion
  • Intense and rapid mood swings
  • Reckless behavior or attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Feeling the “baby blues” is normal—but anything that lasts longer than a few days might need the care of a medical professional.

Postpartum Depression in High Performing People

High-performing people aren’t immune to experiencing postpartum depression. In fact, their predisposition toward burnout might even make them more susceptible to it.

When it comes to postpartum depression, the most important step you can take is to ask for help. This isn’t always easy for high-performing people—we’re so used to just getting it done that we often don’t have the best perception of what’s normal and what isn’t.

High performing people tend to try and “power through”—but that won’t work in the face of the neuroscience behind postpartum depression.

And postpartum depression is a serious mental health disorder. If left untreated, it can lead to decreased functioning in the long-term—even for your child. Untreated postpartum depression can lead to delays in language development, learning disorders, behavioral issues, and more in children.2

If you think you or a loved one might be struggling with postpartum depression, there are things you can do.


Consult a Healthcare Professional

Reaching out to a healthcare provider like your doctor, nurse, or midwife is the first step toward overcoming postpartum depression. They can help you to assess the severity of your condition and determine the best treatment option.

Some medications have been approved for use with postpartum depression. Antidepressants, for example, can be a highly effective option for helping you find some balance while your body adjusts to the postpartum period.

Medications aren’t all created equal, however, and some aren’t safe for use while you’re breastfeeding. Your doctor can help figure out the best fit for you.

Work With a Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist or other mental health professional can help you identify strategies to manage this transitional period. And a clinical psychologist who specializes in high performing people is a great choice for those looking to balance multiple obligations and responsibilities and continue setting and working toward high-level goals.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Self-care is quite the buzzword these days, but we don’t often talk about the nitty-gritty of what it actually means—the small, daily tasks and routines that keep us happy, healthy, and thriving.

True self-care means prioritizing quality sleep, eating foods that fuel our bodies, and getting the movement we need throughout the day. It also means listening to our bodies when they need rest or the attention of a medical professional…

And this is the antithesis of “powering through” our days!

Managing Postpartum Depression at Work

Postpartum depression is often thought of as something that happens right after the birth of a child. The truth is, it can begin as much as a year later—even if you’re back at work and were previously feeling just fine.3

In combination with medical and therapeutic care, as well as those critical self-care routines, there are strategies that can help you manage postpartum depression at work, too.

A clinical psychologist who specializes in high performers can help you figure out the right approach to your unique situation—but in general, it’s important to acknowledge the season you’re in and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Lean on your professional support systems to delegate tasks when you need to, and don’t be afraid to set firm boundaries around your own capacity.

Don’t Try To Go It Alone!

High-performing people are used to being leaders, comfortable in high-visibility roles that come with a lot of responsibility. This can make it difficult to have true peers who understand and relate to what you do every day.

But postpartum depression isn’t the same as a difficult board meeting, challenging client, or high-stakes competition; it’s a complex mental health experience that requires professional care.

Trying to go it alone might just add more stress and isolation to the challenging emotions you’re already experiencing. Experienced clinicians like those at Amplify Wellness + Performance who specialize in mental health for high performers can help you find balance and success during the most vulnerable and overwhelming transition periods.




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