Making an adoption plan can pave the way for a fresh start in life. This major decision allows a hopeful family to cherish the gift of caring for a child. In addition, if you’re in a position where you’re unable to provide your baby with the love and care that it needs, you can find peace of mind in knowing that your child is in good hands when you choose a loving home for it.
While there are numerous benefits of opting for adoption, this route does not come without its own set of risks and difficulties. Being aware of these potential challenges will equip you to better handle them and eventually overcome them. One of the most common difficulties that new mothers experience after – making an adoption plan for their child is post-adoption depression. Here’s everything you need to know about the symptoms of post-adoption depression and how you can seek the support you need.
What Is Post-Adoption Depression?
Post-adoption depression is a mental disorder that impacts women who have recently made an adoption plan. This disorder is similar to postpartum depression, which is a form of depression that many new mothers suffer from after giving birth. Both conditions are characterized by significant changes in hormone levels, which can have a direct impact on women’s physical and emotional state.
Postpartum and post-adoption depression are also closely linked in terms of risk factors. The overall risk of both disorders tends to be higher among women who have a family history of depression, anxiety, or another mental disorder. Additionally, experts have uncovered a meaningful connection between pre-pregnancy stress and the onset of postpartum depression, as well as post-adoption depression.
If you believe that you may be suffering from depression following adoption, it’s important to be aware of the potential symptoms associated with the condition. Here are some of the most common symptoms of post-adoption depression.
Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression
While not everyone experiences post-adoption depression in the same way, understanding the most common symptoms of this disorder can help shed light on the condition. Pay attention to these symptoms in yourself if you believe you may be suffering from depression following the adoption process.
Feelings of Sadness or Emptiness
This is one of the most telltale signs of major depressive disorder (MDD), and it is also commonly observed in women with post-adoption or postpartum depression. If you notice that you often feel sad, hopeless, or empty, this is often a warning sign of the onset of depression. Be sure to talk to a trusted friend or family member or reach out to a mental health professional if you’ve been struggling with these negative feelings.
Changes in Appetite
While there’s nothing wrong with experiencing occasional changes in appetite, such as during menstruation, significant changes in the way you eat may be a red flag. If you’re constantly struggling to curb your hunger pangs or don’t feel the desire to eat at all, be sure to talk to your doctor immediately.
Changes in Sleep Habits
Changes in appetite are often accompanied by notable changes in sleeping habits. Those suffering from depression may find themselves oversleeping on a regular basis or struggling to fall asleep at night. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it’s a good idea to monitor your sleep behavior to address any problems when they arise.
It’s normal to need a little bit of time to yourself every now and then. However, if you’ve stopped responding to your friends’ calls and texts and have begun to shut out your family members, this may be a result of post-adoption depression. Be mindful of whether your loved ones seem worried about your behavior, as this can be a major warning sign that you’re not your usual self.
Loss of Pleasure in Previously Enjoyed Activities
Maybe you used to take great pleasure in playing an instrument or baking your favorite recipes. If you have depression, however, these activities often lose their sense of enjoyment. Remember that you know yourself best when it comes to things that bring you joy, so ask yourself if you still look forward to engaging in these activities after you developed post-adoption depression.
Reduced Energy Levels
For those struggling with depression, even the most basic tasks can seem like an uphill battle. If you find that you have to routinely force yourself to get through the end of the day, this may be a sign that you’ve begun to develop depression. You deserve to thrive and get the most out of your everyday life, so don’t simply ignore this symptom if you notice it in yourself.
The inability to complete everyday tasks isn’t only a result of low energy levels. In many cases, those with depression also find themselves unable to focus on a task long enough to finish it. This can often cause them to perform poorly at work and in other areas of life, which can negatively impact their confidence and self-esteem. If you’ve started to notice that you have to expend more effort than usual in order to concentrate on simple tasks, keep in mind that this may be one of the early signs of depression as a result of adoption.
Finding the Support You Need
Fighting post-adoption depression doesn’t have to be a battle that you fight entirely on your own. It’s vital to know that there are plenty of helpful resources out there that you can turn to in your time of need. If you are a birth mother or woman considering adoption, it’s important to recognize the differences between post-adoption depression and the normal feelings of grief and loss that will likely accompany your adoption decision. As an adoption attorney, I always encourage birthmothers to seek out counseling to help them through the process. Finding the support you need is a sign of strength, and it will allow you to find the peace of mind that you need in your situation.