Research from the University of British Columbia (UBC) suggests that women in the postnatal (postpartum) period should be screened for anger as well as depression and anxiety.
We’ve all taken the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression test following the birth of our babies and although anger is recognised as an element of postnatal mood disturbances, it isn’t included in the test.
However; UBC nursing PhD student Christine Ou found anger is a significant feature in such mood disturbances.
The omission of Anger as a key element is no surprise because much of the attention has been placed on the two main parts of the emotional wellbeing of the woman in the postnatal period – Depression & Anxiety.
But, what if, along with the standard PND and PNA questions you were asked about your level/s of anger?
You see, this is such an important aspect to consider, especially when you dig a bit deeper into what pent up anger can manifest in your life.
To understand this, we need to look at anger itself.
Anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. The adrenal glands flood the body with the stress hormones Adrenalin and Cortisol.
This constant release of stress chemicals will eventually wreak havoc on your body.
Here are some things to look out for:
- digestion problems; such as abdominal pain,
- increased anxiety,
- high blood pressure,
- skin problems; such as eczema,
- heart attack,
Did you notice numbers 4 & 5 on that list?
Increased anxiety and depression.
In fact, Ou says "There's some evidence that indicates that being both angry and depressed worsens the intensity and length of the depression.”
The Effect on Relationships
What about the effect this can have on your relationship with your spouse, your children, other family members, friends, and most importantly YOURSELF?
Think about that for a moment.
How is your anger showing up in your relationships?
Take some time today to really assess this.
Why the Anger?
So, why do mothers feel anger at a time when society tells us we should be basking in the joy of bringing a precious babe into the world?
Ou found that anger can be a reaction to unmet expectations about what becoming a mother will be like.
"Mothers may feel that they have not met their own expectations and that also others may judge them because, for example, they're formula-feeding instead of breastfeeding,” Ou says.
Now, Ou also found that many mothers feel let down by their partners, family members, and health-care providers in terms of the level of support given.
This is exactly what many women express to me about their experiences. The most common complaint is feeling let down by health-care providers, which bubbles away inside or is openly expressed in unusual behaviours for the individual.
I believe the reason no one is talking about Anger being a crucial part of mood disorders in the postnatal period is that, until now, it just hasn’t been seen as an important underlying factor that holds many women back from overcoming postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety.
So, now we understand the crucial part anger plays in the postnatal period, what can we do about it?
Simply opening up the dialogue surrounding anger in the postnatal period will be a relief for many women who suffer in silence.
The first step I take my clients to is Awareness.
Being aware that the anger is there. And, then exploring where it’s coming from and what it’s attached to is the launching pad for releasing and healing.
This all takes time. And, measured guidance.
You see, from my own personal experience, not addressing anger and letting it hide behind depression and anxiety led to the deterioration of my relationship with my spouse.
Don’t leave it until it’s too late like I did.
If you feel anger is holding you back from being the mother, wife, sister, or daughter you always knew you could be, then reach out and get some help.
You’ll be glad you did.
If you need support join me in my private Facebook Group The Pregnancy & Birth Trauma Healing Lounge: