Rage: The Scariest Symptom of PPD



It was the rage that frightened me. I had expected to feel down, sad, and grumpy. Which I did, that’s for sure. But rage? That was not something I expected from postpartum depression. And the rage is what drove me to get help.

About five weeks after my second daughter, Grace, was born, my husband could tell I was not doing well. So he decided to surprise me with a half-day at a local spa. I was thrilled. Nails, facial, massage … and no baby or toddler attached to me for a few blissful hours. Heaven.

But when I came home, I could hear Grace’s crying from the basement. My body tensed immediately and the relaxed feeling was gone. Hubs told me that Grace didn’t eat the entire time I was out. She took a little milk from a bottle but then wouldn’t accept the bottle again.

She didn’t accept a bottle EVER again.

And I could feel the rage start to build from that day.

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I felt trapped by my colicky, non-sleeping, no-bottle-taking baby. I was frustrated with my toddler, Anne, who was throwing tantrums constantly. And I was really questioning my decision to leave my full-time writing job for the occasional freelance gig.

I felt overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and angry. Every. Single. Day.

Then one night I really lost it on Anne when she was having a tantrum. I couldn’t control the words flying out of my mouth. I wanted to smack her and make her stop (which thankfully, I didn’t). I wanted to be anywhere but there.

The rage coming out of me was other-worldly. Thankfully Hubs was there and was able to intervene. I feel physically ill when I think about how I acted and what could have happened. It was the most terrifying feeling I had ever experienced.

I called both my primary care and OB docs the next day. Working together, they got me on Zoloft and into therapy right away. And I felt better within days. The sadness, the lack of interest in life, the anxiety … it all got better with the Zoloft.

The rage, though, took more work to get under control. The Zoloft helped. But the therapy was what made it much, much better.

Four years later, I am still managing my depression. The PPD got better, but then morphed into another kind of depression when my dad suddenly died. Who knows what it technically is now — but I’m still dealing with it.

And the rage is still there. It’s the most difficult part to manage and from my experience, the least-talked about symptom of depression.

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That’s why I’m writing this post. I want all you moms out there to know that if you deal with PPD, depression, and especially the rage that can accompany it, you are not alone. You are not a bad mom. It can and will get better—if you get help.

Being a mom means doing hard things. And sometimes the hardest thing is asking for the help you need. I know that first phone call was incredibly hard for me to make.

But now I understand that depression happens to regular people. These scary feelings do not make me a bad mother. And with medication, therapy, and healthier life choices, I feel more like me again.

Yes, I’m still fighting the depression, sadness, and rage. But now, finally … finally I feel like I’m winning.


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  1. jen says

    Unfortunately, here in Asia PPD is not taken seriously. I went to my doctor after feeling this symptoms and she said that it’s only stress and it will go away on its own. I almost jump out of the window because I feel guilty everytime I lash on my kids. I went to another doctor and she gave me birth control pill that will help my “hormonal imbalance” and it gotten worse. I will call my husband crying and he will find me curled in a corner desperately trying to stop myself.
    After seeing to many doctors, and finding no one to help me I treated myself. I do yoga, I take vitamin B complex, change my diet and send my kids to daycare two times a week. I’m healing now and becoming the woman I used to be.

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    • Amy @mommetime says

      Jen, hugs to ya, Mama… I admire you for listening to your body; I am so sorry for the troubles you are experiencing… good for you for knowing your truth and taking measures to take care of yourself. Wishing you lots of peace.

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    • JD Bailey @ Honest Mom says

      Jen, I’m so sorry this is what you are dealing with. So sorry. But I am glad you are healing. I, too, have found yoga to be incredibly helpful. And also – I am off all hormones. They can make PPD/depression worse. I will never be on them again.

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    • Jessica Schenck says

      So sorry you cant get the proper medication, that just doesn’t seem realistic in this day and age to not be able to. Keep doing what your doing and maybe seek self help books in your library. There are cognitive therapy programs you can also find beneficial. Midwest Center has a great one that helped me tremendously. You will overcome, one day at a time!

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    • says

      Jen I also have the same feeling and am trying the same self medication. Regular Yoga, Vitamin B and sending my kids to day care twice per week. I am still having the scary outbursts of Rage about once every week or two. Today I was so upset that it made me vomit. Thanks for sharing your story. It is nice to read that it’s not just me and perhaps I do need to seek therapy as my next step. I hate anti depressant pills so much and really hope to avoid that.

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    • Michelle says

      I agree with Jen…It’s not taken very seriously when it should be. My mum’s best friends’ daughter had a breakdown because of PPD. She never got over it. To this day, the bulk of the childcaring duties are handled by her hubby, her mum and the family help. She used to be such a bright and vivacious girl. She’s a completely different person now. It’s very sad

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  2. Erin says

    Thank you for sharing this in such an honest and candid way….I dealt with the same thing and since seeking help and medication I’m able to be a much better mom. I can only imagine how many moms are struggling alone at home thinking that they are just weak.

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  3. You Know it Happens at Your House Too says

    This is an amazing post JD. So many moms don’t recognize what is going on and just blame it on the hormones. It is so much more than that. Thank you for writing it, and for sharing!

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  4. Jackie says

    My main symptom was rage. Because of JD’s post on Honest Mom a few weeks ago, I realized that the rage was not part of my personality, but it was part if my PPD. I was able to seek help and get on meds and I feel so much better.

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  5. Analisa says

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been treating my ppd with St Johns wort and omega 3s and it’s been getting better, but yesterday my rage came rearing back. Your post has motivated me to seek outside help and medication beyond what I’m

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  6. Allison @ Motherhood, WTF? says

    Thank you for putting this out there. I had the same experience my second was born. The rage took me entirely by surprise and I still feel so ashamed by it. The incident that drove me to get help was when I found myself standing over my crying colicky infant, maybe 5-6 weeks old, in the middle of the night. I had my face inches from hers and I was screaming, “Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!” Can you imagine? In my baby’s little face.

    I suddenly became aware that I was the last person I wanted near my baby. I left her there, woke up my husband and told him that I can’t be near the baby because I hate her. He thought I was just tired but I convinced him that he needed to take the next day off of work because I seriously could not be near the baby. The next morning I called my OB and was prescribed Zoloft which absolutely saved my entire family.

    I don’t tell this story often because I still feel so awful about it. PPD is something that is not talked about enough. I didn’t recognize it in myself until I called my doctor and she told me it’s PPD. If more people were as open as you are, I maybe would have seen the signs and gotten help before I sunk so low.

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    • Emily says

      That must’ve been so awful for you. :( Good for you for getting help and sharing. Us mommies have it so hard and we need to talk about it. Sometimes that’s half the battle.

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      • Margaret says

        Wow. I could have written that post myself. After screaming at my crying, beautiful 2 week old baby, I made sure there was someone else at the house with me every night (my husband was out of town). I knew deep down that I would never hurt my daughter, but the rage I felt scared me pretty badly. I was also horrible to my other 2 kids-screaming at them and throwing things across the room (soft, unbreakable things, thrown not AT anyone, but thrown nonetheless). I went to therapy and got on Zoloft, and am dealing so much better now. Thanks for posting-I thought it was only me ;)

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    • JD Bailey @ Honest Mom says

      I remember when you wrote about this on your blog – or maybe we just talked about it? But I remember thinking how brave you were for sharing – and was like “ME! Me too! I felt like this!” And I was so happy someone knew what I was talking about…

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    • Charlotte says

      Wow, I felt the same way, but didn’t think it was PPD. When I read the questionnaires, I didn’t really have the symptoms they asked about. They were close, but not so severe; so I thought it was just hormones.

      My twins were delivered by emergency C-section to save my life (HELLP Syndrome) 6 weeks early, entirely unexpectedly. I went to the hospital (with my husband, luckily) about a pain in my chest and 6 hours later, I was getting a spinal. I didn’t see the girls until almost a full day later, which felt like a week, and I wanted to nurse them, hold them, see them… but I couldn’t get out of my damned hospital bed because they wouldn’t take out the catheter etc etc etc…. They were in the NICU for 3 weeks; I went to see them every day, I nursed them, I watched them, but I didn’t have that instant natural instinct to sing, read or talk to them or even think of them as much more than amazing tiny living little creatures; they seemed like something from a fairy tale, not my own flesh and blood. It seemed surreal.

      I was in mourning over the loss of the childbirth that I had imagined. Things didn’t go the way they should have and I didn’t handle it well at all. I didn’t connect to them like I expected. I used to wonder how mothers could abandon their children, but just then, I could understand it. I would yell, cry, get frustrated at their nursing; I wouldn’t wake up at night when they were screaming from the foot of my bed. It was horrible. I sat with them in my recliner 80% of the time my husband was at work. I wasn’t one of those lets-go-to-the-mall-and-walk-around moms. I had two tiny, needy, pain-in-the-ass babies and the last thing I wanted to try to find a place to nurse them at a mall or park or whatever. So I did *nothing* for most of my maternity leave.

      I didn’t suspect PPD until they were maybe 2 years old, when I started thinking about quitting a job I absolutely love, of course by then it was full-blown depression. I felt hopeless, out of control, guilty about everything.

      All in all, Zoloft saved my family, too. I’ve been trying to see a therapist for more than a year; I’ve gotten as far as leaving a voicemail to set up an appointment, but couldn’t bring myself to return their call when I missed it. I think about it every day, and somehow just can’t bring myself to make that call. But I feel better now. I can enjoy things. I love my kids, I love my family, I love my life. I just struggle a little bit getting through everything.

      Thank you posting this… more mothers, and women in general, need to understand that those feelings are common. They don’t mean you’re a bad person and they don’t mean you’re crazy. Medication (the *right* medication) can do wonders. And if you feel anything unlike your normal self, even if your symptoms don’t match the pamphlets, talk to your doctor. Don’t let it build up…

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