Coping With Postpartum Anger

postpartum depression

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Most of us think of the weeks and months after welcoming a baby as a time of happiness and joy. After all, there is nothing sweeter than a tiny, bundled newborn. Yet for many new parents, the postpartum period can be fraught with challenging feelings.

One feeling that some postpartum parents experience is anger. While this feeling may be normal at times, at other times, it may be a sign of a postpartum mood disorder. Either way, if you are experiencing postpartum anger, you are not alone.

What’s more, there are options out there for coping with postpartum anger, and treating your symptoms so you feel more like yourself again.

What Is Postpartum Anger?

Postpartum anger refers to feelings of anger, irritability, rage, impatience, and agitation you may feel after you have a baby.

Having a new baby in your life can be stressful. Your sleep is disrupted, your life suddenly revolves around the seemingly never-ending needs of your baby, and your identity goes through a transformation as well. If you are a birthing parent, your hormone levels are changing, and you are recovering from childbirth—both of which can contribute to mood swings.

Some feelings of anger may be fleeting, and result from the normal stressors that new parents experience, such as feeling like they aren’t getting enough support, or anger and frustration over the fact that they are losing so much sleep. But other times, postpartum anger may feel more constant, severe, and all-consuming.

If your postpartum anger lasts past the first two weeks after childbirth, and if your symptoms are severe and debilitating, your anger might be a symptom of a postpartum mood disorder. Studies have shown that postpartum anger often exists as part of postpartum depression, a mental health condition affecting as many as 1 in 7 new parents.

How Common Is Postpartum Anger?

It’s unclear how many new parents experience postpartum anger, but it is probably more common that most of us realize. According to a study in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, about one-third of the postpartum women surveyed experience “intense anger” after giving birth.

A 2018 review published in Birth found that feelings of anger in the postpartum period are indeed common, and study researchers recommended that anger be added as a symptom that healthcare providers screen for in the postpartum period.

What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Anger?

Symptoms of postpartum anger can range from mild to severe. You may feel angry and exasperated having to change yet another diaper, and you may feel like you have no patience left when your baby wakes up for the fourth time in a row. A baby who won’t stop crying may also trigger feelings of anger and even rage. Some parents are surprised how easily these sorts of things irritate them.

For most of us, postpartum anger may feel strong in the moment, but be fleeting, and not happen very often. This may just be a normal part of being a tired, new parent. But when the anger is severe, happens frequently, and makes it difficult for you to function or care for yourself or your baby, your postpartum anger might be a symptom of a postpartum mood disorder, or postpartum depression.

Other signs of postpartum anger and postpartum depression may include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, feeling easily impatient
  • Anger and rage
  • Losing your temper easily
  • Screaming, swearing, wanting to punch things
  • Crying for no reason
  • Feeling exhausted but unable to sleep
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Low energy and trouble concentrating
  • Not enjoying activities that you normally enjoy
  • Thinking you are a bad parent
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. 

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

What Causes Postpartum Anger?

Many cases of postpartum anger are caused by the same factors that cause postpartum depression, including changes in hormone levels after birth, having a history of depression, lack of sleep, and lack of support.

Experts are not sure why some postpartum parents are more likely to experience anger than depression or anxiety after they have a baby. The BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth study found that certain factors in the postpartum period may make you more likely to experience anger, including:

How to Cope With Postpartum Anger

Sometimes postpartum anger can sweep over you and make you feel intensely negative emotions toward yourself and even your baby. You may lash out at those around you, and lose your temper more easily. When this happens, you may soon feel ashamed of what you did, and feel angry toward yourself. This can be a self-perpetuating cycle.

That’s why it’s important to own your angry feelings and understand that they are a common experience of new parents. Often the anger we experience after having a baby is with good reason: raising a baby is hard, especially if you are not experiencing adequate support.

Ways to Manage Postpartum Anger

Importantly, there are things you can do to manage your anger, and also to make your life as a new parent a little easier. Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  • Write out your feelings: Keep a journal on paper or on your phone where you record what your anger triggers are
  • Talk to other parents: Connect to friends who you trust who have had babies to get their perspective on the emotions you are feeling, as well as some honest takes on when things get a little easier
  • Join a support group: Join a new parents group in person or online for commiseration and support
  • Remind yourself that you're doing your best: Tell yourself that you don’t have to be a perfect parent, and that being “good enough” is where it’s at
  • Ask for help: Ask your partner or family members to pitch in more if they are able to: you do not have to be a martyr and the entire burden of childcare should not fall entirely on your shoulders
  • Get rest: Find creative ways to catch up on sleep: maybe your partner can let you sleep in on weekends; maybe your extended family can come over a few times a week to hold your baby while you nap
  • Set boundaries: If having visitors over to meet your baby is stressful, it’s OK to say no; alternatively, you can ask that if they come over, they help you out in some way, such as delivering a meal, or straightening up your home
  • Stay active: Get out of the house with your baby when you can: fresh air and exercise will help you manage your emotions


Treatments for Postpartum Anger

If your anger is severe, has lasted more than two weeks, and is making it difficult for you to take care of yourself or your baby, you may be dealing with postpartum depression. Coping mechanisms such as asking for help, journaling, and exercise can help with postpartum depression, but usually, they are not enough, and treatment is necessary.

Postpartum Depression Is Treatable

The good news is that postpartum depression is highly treatable. Treatment options usually involve a combination of psychotherapy, lifestyle choices, and medication. Many people who experience postpartum depression and postpartum anger benefit from medication, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to use it if needed.

Medications commonly prescribed for postpartum anger include antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or bupropion. You will need to visit an MD or a psychiatrist to be prescribed medication for postpartum depression.

A Word From Verywell

Experiencing postpartum anger can feel shocking and shameful. But it’s really quite common, and it’s an understandable emotion to experience at a time when so much is changing, you are experiencing high levels of exhaustion, and you may be overwhelmed by responsibilities.

You can take heart in knowing that you are not the only postpartum parent feeling this way. You should also know that it’s possible to feel more like yourself again. There are many effective ways of coping with postpartum anger, and there are treatment options available for you if you need them.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider if your feelings of postpartum anger are taking over your life, or if you feel that your feelings are spinning out of control. Help is out there, and you deserve it.

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6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Postpartum Depression.

  3. American Psychiatric Association. What Is Postpartum Depression?

  4. Ou C, Hall W. Anger in the context of postnatal depression: An integrative review. Birth: Issues in Prenatal Care. 2018;45(4):336-346. doi:10.1111/birt.12356

  5. University of British Columbia. Anger overlooked as feature of postnatal mood disorders: UBC study.

  6. American Psychiatric Association. What Is Postpartum Depression?