The Rage of Postpartum Depression

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postpartum depressionLast night I was itching for a fight. My husband wasn’t doing a SINGLE thing the way I wanted him to. In fact, I felt he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do on purpose. So I got mad. Scary mad. I felt like he never did anything I wanted him to do, and didn’t care.This, despite the fact that he had gone on a father/son outing with our boy (and my dad) during the day to a Braves game, then went to the grocery store and then cooked dinner, which was waiting for me when I got home with our daughter.

So what. He was still a jerk, I thought. And we had one hell of a fight.

This morning I had to make that call. You know the one.

I’m sorry. It was my fault. I was crazy.

And I was. Temporarily. Most of the time I’m pretty even-tempered. I’m a nice person. I know my husband is a good guy even though he annoys me some times, just like I’m sure I annoy him. I’m not a rage-aholic by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t like yelling. At anyone.

It so happens, though,that I have my … guess what?… period. Usually, for about 2 days in the whole period process I get a short-temper. I feel more controlling. Sometimes I lose it, like last night. (Could this have been a predictive sign that I was going to get a postpartum mood disorder? I think so!)

My behavior last nightreminds me of the symptoms of anger and irritability that many moms with postpartum depression and antenatal depression get. Many of you say you have been surprised by the rage you feel with PPD. I have to admit I really wanted to punch my husband right in the face. That’s pretty surprising.

I’m glad I don’t feel like that much anymore, except on the very rare occasion, like last night. It’s scary. I don’t like it one bit. How about you?


Photo: Fotolia – © Jason Stitt

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  1. Girrrrrl, I could have written this to the letter (well, except I have all girls) … but yeah. It is scary and I hate it and I do struggle with these feelings of anger & irritability on a monthly basis (some months worse than others) which is why I'm on a low-dose of antidepressants. I wholly believe this is residual from postpartum depression or maybe it's the other way around as you say. In any case, mood disorders: the gift that keeps on giving!
    Thank you for posting this.

  2. One time in the middle of the night while frantically trying to get our son back to sleep and for some reason (?) having a fight about it, I threw a bunch of pillows at him and told him I hated him.
    I should have seen having hateful thoughts about this man, that I adore and would never dream of hurting physically or emotionally, much sooner than I did.

  3. That was one of my biggest symptoms aside from crippling anxiety. At Easter (Good Friday) I put my foot through a wicker chair because my husband wasn't home in time for the fish fry at a local legion. Like my foot went through it. I punched a hole in our pantry. I kicked my bathroom wall. And when the anger was so intense, I resorted to cutting my arms to release the pain. It's awful and I was very frightened that o wouldn't control it. But I guess that's how PPD makes you feel…out of control.

  4. Ohhhh I just love that description of feeling like your hubby never does things the way you want him to – even though he just has! It is soooo how I feel premenstrually.
    I know I've had pms days(prior to ppmd)where I could imagine nuking a small nation if I had a button to activate nuclear arms. It's tough. Hope you are feeling more mellow today.
    My hubby says it feels like crap to be on the receiving end of pms, but hey, it's no fun being on our side either.
    Virtual Big Hug to you (it always makes me feel better:)

  5. Oh my gosh, the anger…I think that might have been one of the worst parts of PPD for me. It was insane, all-consuming, white-hot anger that was so frightening to behold. I've thrown a cell phone through a wall. Like, completely through it. I've gotten violent with my husband, which I'm so ashamed to say. When I was pregnant with my first son, my mood swings were so bad that I told my husband that I felt like there was a different person in my body. I literally could not control the words coming out of my mouth, no matter how hard I tried. It was so, so awful.

  6. Katherine-
    It's interesting that you bring this up! When I have my period (or am just about to get it), I feel like my Zolft is not anywhere near me!! It's as if I have never been on a medication at all. Scary!! I wonder if there have been any research studies on this?

  7. This is a great blog, interesting posts. I guess I felt the need to suggest what most people are told, but maybe in everyday life, don't fully put into practice, that medication helps, but does not fully manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. There are many modalities of talk therapy and types of self-help that feed into the the mix to treat symptom management. Two modalities that come to mind are DBT, which is a structured, research-based, skill-based way to manage emotions and also Gottman Couples Therapy, which is a structured, research-based, skill-based method which helps people manage emotions surrounding relationships. Sometimes these skills are useful in managing symptoms in addition to medication.
    Hi @Elizabeth There is a book called Women's Moods, which describes the fluctuations of medication present in a woman's bloodstream and how this is affected by hormonal changes (ie monthly menses). A great read.
    take care, Kathy

  8. I am so relieved to hear others describe their rages. It truly feels like I CANNOT control what comes out of my mouth on these occasions. Glad others understand — it helps me feel a little bit more normal

  9. I think that was my first clue that something was really going on with me. I have an 18 yr history of depression, but I have NEVER had the rage Ive felt with PPD. I get that feeling of fire in my chest and I thing Im literally going to explode.
    Glad to know Im not the only one out there experiencing it!

  10. I can totally relate, not to you but to your husband. It's just like last week when my wife was so irritable at me. I didn't even do anything. Or maybe, that's why. 'Cause everytime she gets irritated when she has her menstrual period, I just keep quiet. I don't want to add up on the "reasons" of her irritability. She's been taking some natural remedy for anxiety for years now since she gave birth to our first child. The doctor said her depressions are due to loss of libido. I'm glad to find out that I'm not the only one with a wife suffering from PPD. I'm telling you on behalf of your husband, it's driving us nuts too. Have a nice day!

  11. I'm grateful to have found this- I had my baby girl 14 weeks ago, and for about the past 5 weeks the anger and anxiety has been through the roof. I actually TEACH conflict resolution (anger management) and an usually pretty even tempered, but for the past few weeks my anger can come so suddenly and so intensely I shake and rage (through things, scream at the top of my lungs, kick things) until I am physically exhausted. and over silly things- the cats fighting, there being a single dish in the sink, the tv remote batteries dying, you name it. I always keep a tidy house, but that has gotten nuts too- if one thing is out of place my anxiety kicks in and I have to clean everything in sight or it seems like I will lose my mind. I called my NP today and made an appt for next week. I havent cried so much in my life- hopefully its over soon.

  12. Anger is sometimes the only thing that kept me going. I got some good advice from someone: anger is just an emotion, what you do with it is what matters. If you have a wonderful husband and a schedule that allows please look into a (albeit weird and diametrically opposed ) balance of yoga and KICKBOXING. There is nothing better than taking out all that pent up aggression/frustration/anxiety/sadness/overwhelming-ness/new mommy freak out whatever on a well worn boxing bag. Plus, that's the bag's job-to let you pound away (and i used to yell at it too)! Not your husband's job, not your kid's and frankly not even your therapist or your best friend– just you and the bag! And there's the added bonus of feeling kinda like a bad ass when you put on your gloves ;-) THe yoga can help with the anxiety and that achy gross feeling you get when you're bummed and gives you a moment to reflect on how awesome you and the people in your life are. I WISH i had found this blog when i was in the throes of PPD–but that is another story. :-) .

  13. I know its been awhile and i'm sure your are good – but i thought i would send you some good vibes and say it does pass.

  14. I feel the exact same way. I’ve thrown dishes, lamps, knocked pictures off the wall, etc. Busted my husbands lip open bc I think he’s hiding photos from me on his phone. Then the ‘real’ me snaps back into reality…& I apologize profusely for what I’ve done, & the damage that has occurred. All of this directed to my spouse, not baby I might add. Every thing he does pisses me off. I go to the doctor Tuesday for the 3rd time to try to get on the right combo of meds for ppd. My behavior was never like this before. I pray they can help, bc I feel like I’m in my own personal hell of that I can’t escape.

  15. Today I threw and broke the vacuum cleaner and rice cooker. My 3 year old was throwing a fit. I talked myself through trying to handle him in a calm good mommy way then I snapped, smacked his butt and sent to his room. I feel horrible. I also feel extreme rage driving. Like I’m looking for a fight. So not me! I am 2 weeks pp and have had PPD after 2 other pregnancies, but never this soon.

    • Gina, I’d definitely reach out to your doctor, especially considering you have a history of PPD, and get started on some form of treatment if you aren’t getting treated already. Rage is such a common and yet awful symptom of PPD. I’m really sorry you’re going through this right now. Please know that I hear from a lot of moms who are dealing with the same thing.

  16. The anger/rage has been one of my biggest challenges. I got diagnosed PPD/PPA at 6 mo post partum. It was pretty miserable but things are a little better now that I have some medication & finally night weaned my daughter. I don’t like that mean stuff one bit & am trying to deal with it. It’s been really hard so far.

    Thank you for this website, it helps

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  18. I am 5 months post partum, and the one thing I am constantly battling is rage. The second thing is guilt. I am a yeller and it feels like an out of body experience. I slam doors, throw things, and leave the house angry. My husband has been so supportive of me and loving. However, he is the source of my anger – there are days he can’t even shit straight in my mind. I can see it is wearing on him and my apologies are beginning to lose their meaning. This is our first child, that we have prayed for a long time with a tough journey to parenthood. We both work, and have no direct support with immediate family due to distance, and in the past 5 months my husband has been dealing with chronic pain in his back and foot resulting in surgeries – all of this on top of being a new mom is making me feeling crazy. Is this post partum depression or just a result of my crazy life??

    • Beth, I would definitely talk to your doctor about this. The kind of anger you are talking about can definitely be a symptom of postpartum depression. If you do in fact have PPD, there are treatments that will help you get better. If it isn’t PPD and is caused by stress, therapy can be a big help in giving you better tools to handle that stress. So no matter what, you can get help that can make this easier on you.

      • Thank You Katherine… After reading the various stories on your blog, I decided to consult with my OB who from the beginning had given me guidance on what to look for and provided an open door policy to consult. She has since diagnosed me with post partum mood disorder. After much thought I realized these feelings have surfaced before while pregnant and before menstrual cycles – except more intense now. I am now starting antidepressant and joining a support group for PPD in my area. Thank you again for supporting and educating women all over about the various shades of PPD.

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  20. So thankfyl to find this site. I am 5 mnths pp..really struggling the past month..lack of sleep so hard for mr..feel like I am bad mom..feel angry at my partner..he doesnt get how I feel…going to psych in a few days..i am now open to medication…wish I could find a support group in my area.

  21. I gave birth to my son almost two years ago. I began having irrational fears/worries and irritability while I was pregnant with him, and had a life-threatening bout of post-partum-something (depression? psychosis? PTSD? adjustment disorder? It depends on who you ask,) that began about a month or so after he was born and sort of never ended. I have shown improvement, and have been able to function in my job and other daily activities. But my marriage has fallen apart, and the rage is the primary reason.
    I decided to have a second child, and the reasoning is as follows: last summer I was 38, and after seeing my son playing with other children I realized that my limiting myself and my family to one child, I was depriving my son of the joy of having a sibling, a buddy, and it wasn’t fair to him that MY illness would take that away from him. (I felt, he already lost so much to this illness, and he never asked for any of this.) Also, if this was to be temporary (which I am encouraged to believe it WILL be,) and if my reproductive time is limited, then why not get pregnant with a second, even if I wasn’t fully “out of the woods” from the first one? Furthermore, why would I do (what had already become) the extremely hard work of recovery and struggle to get back to myself, only to get pregnant again and (most likely) lose my marbles all over again??!!
    Having had a history of depression and a mother who had PPD, I did my homework, and thought I was prepared for the PPD I would likely face. I had no way of knowing how ugly the RAGE and ANGER could be, and how PERVASIVE they would become. My husband reacted very badly to the whole thing: he was slightly better able to deal with the depression, because it’s what’s expected, and he had been down that dark tunnel before with me. But he was totally unprepared for the rage and anger, and his inability to handle it gracefully or with compassion ultimately led to him saying and doing things that, long after, would continue to fuel a deep resentment of him, which would explode at times into these horrific rages whenever these bouts would come.
    Like so many of the women above, I have broken things, thrown things, hit my husband (the shame of which I may never get over) and yelled after him as he leaves the house to escape, acting like a Jerry Springer, white-trash nightmare. Twice I have spanked my toddler, something that I told myself I wouldn’t do, having been raised in abuse myself.
    I am terrified about how I will handle the next birth/post-partum period. I am receiving DBT and it has been the most helpful of all the things I have tried in the past two years (actually in the past MANY years), but I fear that it is not enough. I have a history of poor response to many different medications over many years, and have looked into TMS treatments, but it is SO expensive and there is so little information out there (other than stuff that looks like advertisement, all seemingly put out by the companies that market the technology or doctors that provide/profit from the treatments.)
    I do not want my children living in a home where they are exposed to scary explosions, screaming, fighting, etc., even if it IS only temporary. It is SO hard for my husband to respond effectively because much of the time he is caught off guard and has no idea what to do! And when it is happening, it feels as if it is justified, appropriate, and doesn’t ever feel as disproportionate and out of context as it really is. It’s not until the “clean-up” phase that you mention above that I can be fully aware of how awful my behavior was.
    Is there any information you can give me about TMS and its efficacy with PPD/post-partum emotional dysregulation? I do not want to take a chance with meds again, and plan to nurse as I did with my son.

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  23. Omg I have been experiencing the exact same anger. I pick fights over nothing and turn them into huge blow outs. I have always had a tumultuous relationship with anger but have always controlled it to some degree. Well my daughter is now 10 months old and the lunatic antics are still raging I hope this doesn’t last much longer.

  24. Pingback: Rage and Post Partum Depression - The Un-Coordinated Mommy - Atlanta Mom Blogger

  25. I am almost 13 weeks PP and I feel crazy. I had a great first two weeks then my daughter wasn’t gaining weight so we had to supplement with formula. Then my milk dried up and its been down hill ever since. She was diagnosed with GERD and colic and cries constantly. She’s inconsolable and we’re trying everything. Its affected me in such a negative way. With my first born I got PPD my 3rd day PP and it lasted a year. This time its definitely not the same. The first 3 weeks of my PPMD I was psychotic, I felt like everything was my fault, I couldn’t even feed her a bottle because the guilt I felt not being able to breast feed would fill me with so much anxiety and pain I thought I was going to explode. It was the worst feeling when she cried, its like I knew she was crying because of me.. When she would cry I’d sit in my bed and hysterically cry too. I’d stay up all night thinking how EVERYONE would be so much better off if I were dead. I would have episodes and my husband would have to restrain me. Its not that out of control anymore. I still have extreme irritability and not often but sometimes experience extreme rage. I’ve started cleaning and doing my make up everyday to help kind of get me out of this mess and help me feel better. This is totally 100% out of character for me, I can’t stop cleaning.. It’s like I’m addicted to it, I need it.Once I start which is right after I feed my kids breakfast and get them situated its like nothing can stop me because I wont let it. My son always wants to play with me but I’m too busy… cleaning.. If I have a day where my husband has off and we just relax it will be such a horrible day full of rage, hate and anger all because I didn’t clean. In order for me to be okay I need to be cleaning. Then when I do my make up I’ve become such a perfectionist I cant stop putting it on and I do it so much I mess my own face up and have to wash it and start over, its insane!!!! This is random- I had a huge spider in my house directly over my daughters bassinet( I’m terrified of spiders) so I killed it. My son who’s 4 is now infatuated with spiders now and has been watching these videos to learn about them. He asked me to watch one with him so I did. OMG now I feel like they’re crawling all over me. I’m always looking for them. Just waiting. I’ll be quietly standing outside then I start screaming and tear my shirt off because I think there’s a spider on me but nope I’m just losing my mind. I’m scared to go outside alone at night because of spiders.. Someone please help me and tell me what’s wrong with me!!! I’m so angry and irritable and I cant stop cleaning or doing my make up and I think spiders will be the death of me. Some days I don’t experience rage but I’m always cleaning… Help! Please!

  26. Same here. Its not that I think I don’t have the right to be angry…good lord, if my husband strolled through the door one hour late for an annual dinner saying he forgot I would be furious! But I probably would have left without him after 15 minutes anyways… but it is my inability to control my temper that scares me. I scream at my child at times and now I know I need help. I am not going to stop being angry at my husband who thinks its ok for me to live out of a suitcase and follow him up and down the highways of France to keep his split lifestyle…but I hope with proper drugs to level out my hormones I can deal with my anger appropriately and not upset my child. ps – yes I wanted to push him down the stairs last night for leaving the house AGAIN at bath and bedtime – yes, I tried to run over a woman on the sidewalk who smacked our car with her ski poles because I couldnt stop mid ice skid for her princess butt to cross the road – yes I want to knife my MiL who does not listen to me when I tell her about how to deal with my screamng 2 year old. All these things hack me off anyways – but hopefully if things get better I can deal with them in a more grown up fashion!