Postpartum Rage and How to Manage It

    Postpartum Rage and How to Manage It

    One of the topics in the world of motherhood at the moment is postpartum rage. While many of us have heard and/or experienced postpartum depression or the “baby blues,” postpartum rage or anger is different. Previously, anger and irritation were considered part of depression and anxiety, but now some experts are screening and learning how to manage postpartum rage.

    About postpartum mood disorders

    Postpartum refers to the period immediately after giving birth. There are three phases in the postpartum period, starting with the first few hours up to half a year in many cases.

    Not all women will experience postpartum mood disorders after each pregnancy; however, the vast majority of women do. Some statistics show that mood disorders can affect up to 85 percent of postpartum mothers.

    What is postpartum rage?

    As mentioned before, the most common postpartum mood disorder is depression. Recently, healthcare practitioners have begun to screen for more than depression. Anger is a normal human emotion and should not be considered taboo. However, rage is a sustained and often more violent form of anger which is considered unhealthy.

    For new mothers, the expectations of raising a child may not match how their life is currently panning out. This conflict can cause some mothers to feel angry with themselves and with other people around them. These emotions can negatively affect relationships, especially with other household members.

    Can You Experience Depression and Anxiety Together?

    Who does it affect?

    Because the concept of postpartum rage as a separate mood disorder has not officially been established, there is no solid data available at this time. Postpartum mood disorders can affect any mother. This is true even if she did not experience it after previous births.

    Aside from mothers, postpartum rage can indirectly affect household members. Without understanding the emotional struggles of a mother, a partner may react negatively and stop being supportive. In turn, young children who are exposed to parents with mood disorders may pick up emotional problems as they get older.

    You can experience both depression and rage together. In fact, it has been shown that anger management issues on top of depression can worsen and prolong depression. Depression is more than just a mental disorder because it can also make you more prone to illness and reduces your quality of life.

    In short, postpartum rage can affect everyone, either directly or indirectly.

    What causes postpartum rage?

    Unfortunately, there is no single cause for rage. Much like depression and other disorders, several factors come into play. Age, hormonal status, pre-existing conditions, family history, and even the weather can play a role in developing mood disorders.

    Fluctuations in hormones during and after childbirth can wreak havoc on a woman’s body and mind. This, coupled with physical changes, such as weight gain and stretch marks, can cause feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety. For some mothers, these feelings may come out as postpartum rage or depression.

    How can I manage postpartum rage?

    Anger management involves first acknowledging the emotion and possible triggers. For postpartum women, depression can manifest as or alongside irritability and anger. A mental health professional would be the best person to consult regarding mood disorders and mental health.

    Aside from these, a strong support unit at home is essential. Meditation and relaxation techniques are useful to calm down. Counseling may be an option if it is difficult to cope with household members during this time. Other ways to manage feelings of anger and rage include:

    • Challenging or changing automatic thoughts
    • Taking naps or getting more sleep at night
    • Communicate your feelings more effectively, such as through drawings and movement if not words
    • Mindfulness, specifically befriending anger, or self-compassion meditation
    • Make yourself laugh by watching comedies
    • Give yourself a break
    • Exercise
    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
    • Find your happy place
    • Do spiritually enriching activities

    Unless the condition causes you to become violent, it is unlikely that you will need medications such as tranquilizers or mood stabilizers to manage postpartum rage.

    Key takeaways

    Mental health is just as important as physical health. This is especially true for expecting and new mothers. Anger is a normal emotion, but rage can lead to negative effects on you and your family. Consult a health professional if you or a loved one recently gave birth and has symptoms of a mood disorder.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Postpartum depression https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 Accessed November 16, 2020

    Perinatal depression https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/perinatal-depression/index.shtml Accessed November 16, 2020

    Understanding the Facts: Depression https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression Accessed November 16, 2020

    Postpartum Mood Disorders: What New Moms Need to Know https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/postpartum-mood-disorders-what-new-moms-need-to-know Accessed November 16, 2020

    Anger overlooked as feature of postnatal mood disorders https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180626113415.htm Accessed November 16, 2020

    Postpartum period: three distinct but continuous phases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279173/ Accessed November 16, 2020

    APA: Controlling anger before it controls you https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control Accessed November 16, 2020

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    Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated May 26, 2021