Over the years, I have heard from many women whose postpartum experiences were just fine until they stopped breastfeeding. It is rare, however, for me to find any research on the topic of depression after weaning, or a personal story about it. So I was happy to see this story from the blog A Cup of Jo, written by Joanna Goddard, about the depression she experienced at eight months postpartum after weaning.
Here’s a bit of her story after she realized why she was suffering:
In late January, I had decided to wean Toby from breastfeeding for a number of reasons, so I quite abruptly weaned him within a week. But instead of feeling liberated, I began feeling tired and sad and went into a downward spiral. The timing of the beginning of my depression (weaning Toby) and the end of my depression (getting my period again) lined up perfectly.
I hate that she was only able to find a few stories on this, because you know we like to cover all issues related to depression and anxiety and pregnancy and childbirth here on Postpartum Progress. So, if you experienced weaning after depression, send me your story and we may be able to feature it here. Let’s make sure the moms who go through this have the information they need and don’t feel alone.
Me too! With my first son when he weaned at 1 year I noticed a considerable increase in irritability, mood swings, self-critical thinking.
Everything he did seemed to piss me off, instead of just be cute and maybe annoying. It seems like he was into everything and every 'bad' behavior was a clear indication of a future of a non-functional member of society. I started reliving the trauma surrounding his birth more and more frequently, almost obsessively.
I am going through this now she is 20mos. I started weening at 15mos. She was good until the summer came and I was home with her and then she started trying to nurse more often and I began to get really irritated and pissed off at everything she did. She is also potty training and that is also sending me straight through the roof. I don’t know if ita because I am not used to being home with her or because I never have any down time since she also refuses to take a nap. I don’t have anyone to talk to cause everyone just says she a baby like I don’t know that. Anyway I’m starting to not wanna be around her and all I do is yell. I feel like a bad mother because I have no patience with her.
While I haven't yet weaned my DD (she's just 3), I had my worst depression when she turned 1 and my period returned consistently. I also had a couple bad spells at 3 months and about 7 months when I had some periods, with a dip in breastfeeding frequency at the 3 month mark for sure. At 1 is when we started doing solids first at meals, and it took until age 2 and some big changes for things to level out.
I wish there was more research and education on this issue. I still feel crazy for talking about how my ppd didn't really kick in until I had to wean my baby abruptly at 8 months. I had been 'getting by' mood wise for about 4 months – sort of hanging on by a thread – but stopping breastfeeding sent me down a rat hole from which it has taken more than a year to recover.
I weaned my daughter relatively abruptly at 7 months. As well I had been taking a high dose of domperidone to help with my milk supply since her birth. I stopped these meds cold turkey. And then whammo, my anxiety went through the roof. I had had a rough first three months with her, but then things got better. But then my anxiety started increasing and my sleeplessness at night increased. But I truly believe stopping breastfeeding and stopping the domperidone triggered my severe anxiety. I am now on meds and in therapy and am starting to feel better. Its a hard road though. I thought I was a freak being diagnosed with PPA at 7 months.
I know I’m a bit late commenting, but need some encouragement. I’ve been on a very high dose of Domperidone, and my daughter self-weaned about 2 weeks ago at 19 months. I weaned off of the Dom, but now I’m experiencing severe anxiety and depression…not to mention I’m day 4 of my period. Don’t know what to do.
Sarah, if the anxiety and depression continues even after your period is over, consider talking to your OB or primary care doctor about what might help. If your symptoms continue and affect your ability to live your daily life, it is worth considering some sort of treatment plan to help your anxiety or depression lessen or resolve entirely. Hang in there, mama. ~ K
Hi there. Saw your comment the other day and wondered how you are doing. I am starting to try to night wean my 19mo and have been experiencing some mood changes as well. Just wanted to reach out. Maybe Katherine can help connect us if you’d like to chat more? xo
I had the same problem with my first child at 6 months when I weaned her and am facing the same challenge right now as my 10 month old son transitions to more solid foods (baby-led weaning). I would be more than happy to share in a guest post. Please just let me know which details you all are most interested in. Thank you so much for posting on this subject today!
I just weaned my baby who is ten months old and I feel like I am having anxiety symptoms possible depression symptoms too. I completely lost my appetite a little over a week ago and was feeling very anxious, and I just don’t feel myself. Can you relate?
I talk to a lot of moms about the issue of depression and must of them tell me that these problems exist due to the amount of stress that they experience throughout the day.
I started out with a significant case of PTSD and postpartum depression and anxiety a few weeks after my son's birth. However when I weaned my son at 6 months to start new meds, I developed severe cyclical depressions that coincided with my menstral cycle. He is two years old now and I am still struggling despite a lot of hard work on every front. Luckily the depressions have not been as severe since Oct when I was fortunate to have an overhaul in medications. It turned out that lithium works as a better anti-depressant for me.
Hey are you feeling better yet?? Wondering if your menstrual was normal that whole time???
I experienced this as well. Looking back, almost 3 years later, and knowing what I know about PPD/A now, I realize I had PPD from the start, but once my daughter decreased her rate of feedings @ 6months was when my depression switched from mind numbing fatigue and wanting to sleep all the time to severe anxiety and not being able to sleep for days on end and intrusive thoughts. It was when the anxiety became unbearable that I sought professional help and finally received PPD dx a year after my daughter was born. I finally found a counselor that specialized in women's mental health and she strongly felt that decreasing nursing and eventually weaning did make things worse. Reason being is that nursing releases "feel good" chemicals in the brain. This kept me feeling somewhat "normal." My daughter nursed round the clock for several months and when I wasn't w/ her I pumped consistently. Once her frequency dropped and my brain wasn't getting those good chemicals, the bottom dropped out.
I experienced the EXACT same thing with my first son born in 09′. I didn’t realize I had PPD. I left my career, moved across the country and my husband started medical school so I just chalked it up to stress. I weaned at 13 months and my little guy finally started sleeping through the night and my body had no clue what to do. I went from being exhausted to sleepless over a few months. By the time he was 16 months I was in the midst of a complete and utter nervous breakdown that took a good year to get under control. Fast forward and after several years of medication and therapy we had another little guy. I experienced the baby blues but by 4 weeks was out of the woods until the weaning process began. Now my second little guy is 21 months and has been weaning over the past few months and likewise the anxiety and insomnia are settling in quickly. I noticed over the past few months I have been ruminating and keyed up but could still get by. We just went on a truly perfect family vacation and within a week of getting back my body just threw in the towel. This time I knew not to mess around and within a week went to the dr- I don’t want to miss another year of living ..I also had hyperemesis gravidarum with both pregnancies. I am wondering if just like the beginning of the pregnancy process wreaks havoc on my body, finishing it does the same.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
Something in Joanna's post really struck a cord. Her post was beautifully written and, like you Katherine, she was able to describe her experience so eloquently.
I'm a 2nd time PPA/D fighter. First time around I was in 'too deep' to be able to attribute it to any one particular thing or time period. However this time around I strongly believe the hormonal swing associated with weaning and subsequent return of menstural cycle led to a huge crash around 6-9 months. I am still working on putting the pieces together & making sense of it all… but I believe that as my milk production reduced, my symptoms spiralled. I agree with another post that likened it to severe cyclical depressions that coincided with my menstral cycle. The reproductive mental health specialist I see acknowledges that women can feel like everything comes crashing down as their cycle starts again. And the pacific postpartum support society, here in BC, specifically mentions this in their self help guide for mothers. I hope it is ok to quote them!! "For some women the hormonal shift associated with stopping breastfeeding can bring on or increase the symptoms of depression".
You are right that there are not enough stories about this out there. Thank you so much for your website, and your continual passion in exploring these issues. No one knows this beast as well as the women who have suffered it.
I think I developed some of my first signs of PPD or anxiety when my first child night-weaned at about 11 months old (this was 4 years ago). It was the first time in my life I'd ever felt that out of control and horrible. I visited several doctors looking for answers (thyroid, iron, etc.) and they all told me I was just really tired and needed to sleep. Right, thanks for that helpful info.
Now, I have a 20-month-old and I am considering weaning him because my hormones are still out of control and I still feel like a crazy person. Again, after seeking the help of many doctors and not getting much help, I'm wondering if I weaned him my body would have a chance to go back to "normal." After reading this and thinking through it, now I'm concerned it'll get worse before it gets better.
That is EXACTLY what happened to me – TWICE. (Except for the period part… I was menstruating at 6 weeks postpartum both times… so that had nothing to do with my PPD) I weaned both my sons at about 8 months, and that is when my most obvious PPD symptoms started. The main symptom for me, however, was rage – so I didn't attribute it to PPD at first. It actually frustrates me that people think it "must be something else" if it didn't start within the first few weeks – and also if you're not 'sad' all the time. So much mis-information floating around out there.
You can read part of my story here: http://robinsrandomrambles.blogspot.com/2011/09/s…
Hi I just found another blog from a woman that went through the same thing
Of note I posted earlier about my ppd becoming cyclical with the return of my menstral cycles after weaning. I was started on a combination of lithium and birth control (i don't take the "reminder pills" but go strait to a new pack) so that I have a steady, consistant stream of hormones in my system. I am an older mom, 42, so I thought age and the posibility of entering perimenapause could be a contributing factor. My team of doctors at a research/teaching hospital said they see alot of ppd and pmdd but usually not such severe cases of a combination of both. I am saddened to read about the suffering and struggles of so many other moms but it brings me comfort and hope to read your stories and know I am not alone.
Article on the Huffington Post today about this, mentions several blogs and a research study.
The research mentioned in the Huffington Post was not about depression after weaning, but about how depression is or isn't related to breastfeeding — in other words are women who are unsuccessful at breastfeeding more likely to have PPD. What we really need is a study specifically on weaning.
I am starting to feel very depressed since I stopped breastfeeding my 7 1/2 month . I was wanting to stop soon but had to because my daughter was biting me ( she is teething). She has no teeth yet but it HURTS! I miss that bond with her!
Has anyone recovered from this? I was pregnant or breastfeeding for 5 years (nursed each until they turned 2). That was the most calm, stable and happy I’ve ever been. Within weeks of weaning- the awful stuff came back. Irritability, weight gain, heavy periods…. And PMS means severe depression, mood swings, anger. My son is FIVE years old now. I eat an ideal diet and exercise. This gets no better. Doctors think I’m making it up. I wish I would’ve kept pumping until menopause. I’ve honestly considered trying to relactate so that I can be a normal person/mom again. I don’t want my kids to remember me as crying, yelling all the time. Did this ever go away for anyone else?
Hi Nicole, it’s almost a year later. Are you doing any better. If not I’d suggest the book The Mood Cure. It’s a nutritional approach to overcoming depression/mood disorders. I followed it’s protocol while breastfeeding with success and am about to start again now that I’ve weaned and am suffering symptoms of false moods again.
How are you feeling?? Did you finally get a normal menstrual
Very interesting to find this. I breastfed my 1st tilshe was 18 months when I got pregnant with my second. I just went through a pretty tough weaning process with second baby at 21 months. I have been so depressed ever since. Dont know if it could be related, but I thought I would Google it and I found this!
I breastfed my son until he was a year old. I believe I did have postpartum
OCD right after he was born but 6 months after weaning him from breast feeding the OCD has gotten worse & I have horrible intrusive thoughts. It has been one of the darkest times of my life. I feel like a horrible person & mother for having these thoughts & have started meds & therapy. My OB had prescribed meds when he was 2 months but I was too scared to take them because I was breast feeding. I wonder now if this is why my symptoms have gotten worse after I weaned from breast feeding. Thanks so much for the information. I feel very alone with all of this.
Have you reached back out to your doctor? You aren’t alone and you definitely do NOT have to keep living with intrusive thoughts. They’re a symptom of an illness and can be treated. I think it’s worth your health and wellbeing to go back in and talk to your doctor again. ~ K
I am glad I found this site. I recently weaned my 4 month old and have been experiencing severe depression. I have never been a depressed person, but it hits me like a panic attack. I was on Domperidone & herbal supplements to help me produce milk. But, I went back to work & have 2 other kids. It’s just been so hard to pump at work. I tried to breast feed for 6 months, but just couldn’t do it. I keep beating myself up because I feel like I have failed him.
Going through the same thing right now actually. I have polycystic ovary syndrome and my supply dropped very suddenly from it. Our bf relationship was going great before and she was growing beautifully until this last check up. I have been super depressed the past few days and can’t stop crying. I have tried to still offer the breast but she refuses after 5 mins and cries uncontrollably. We overcame me giving up dairy for her and a 4 week long bout of thursh to have it end here. 🙁
Oh hon. I’m sorry to hear that. Big hugs. Just know it’s not breastfeeding alone that makes you a good mom. You’re an awesome mom already.
I definitely think I am experiencing this! I recently night-weaned my two year old and the first two nights I was ecstatic and I slept wonderfully. Then, I started getting anxiety attacks and insomnia. I am already on an antidepressant, so I just upped my dose, but I’m hoping my hormones will go back to normal.
We mutually weaned about 3 months ago & I’ve been a basket case ever since. My feelings are hurt do easy, I’m constantly on the defensive & I have even found myself imagining whether my family would just be better off without me. I have a history of depression but have had it under control for about 10years w/out meds… Now I just feel like I could fall apart over anything. Doesn’t help I feel I get very little help from my husband & a lot of criticism. Plus I feel fat & ugly
This is years later and i feel the same way but i know its just in my head i do hope you were able to get help and are recovering, the fact that your on here is proof how much you care for your family i wish you the best your not alone
These stories are so sad, I want to give everyone a big hug. It is nice to know I am not alone. Weaned a month ago (19months) and since have had anxiety and a horrible temper. I know I am also having symptoms of depression but have been hoping that once my hormones have a chance to return to normal things will be better. I would like to feel like myself again. I want to be the great Mom I know I can be but right now every day is a fight against my emotions. I hope they do more research and find the answer for future Moms.
In my practice,many years ago,I had a patient nurse for 2 years,not get a period for the 2 years,then have a full blown PPD with her first period.Darn hormones!!!!!
Please do not panic….that was only ONE patient out of thousands!!!!
Postpartum hit me strongly with both my babies when I weaned, or rather pretty much abruptly stopped nursing b/c of low milk supply. With my first, I stopped at 6 mos (had been pumping 20hrs a week for that entire time) and had some rage issues crop up afterwards, moodiness, but then my hormones I guess you could say “regularized” three mos later b/c I got pregnant again. All those maternal hormones took away the postpartum feelings and I was great. Then came the real storm–my milk supply with my second was also low and since I had a rowdy 17mo child running around, I coudn’t devote the time and energy to pumping as much, I ended up stopping at 2.5 mos. The postpartum this time just hit and got worse and worse. I went to a therapist at about 6 mos postpartum and begged for something to stop the constant anxiety, the debilitating depression that had hit so hard when I stopped breastfeeding my second baby. I was already on Zoloft and my doctors, doula, myself, all thought this would keep me sane and okay, but the drop in those hormones after breastfeeding proved to be strong enough to overcome even that. I eventually went on Xanax and that plus a lot of exercise and gaining new friends/having positive “mom” relationships saved my life.
Everyone is so focused on how “breastfeeding is best” to the point where no one ever warns you (including doctors who should know better!) of the dramatic drop in hormones after you wean or if you quit cold turkey. and what that drop could mean for your mental health.
I am now just newly pregnant with my third and my husband is begging me not to breastfeed this baby at all. He is terrified of me going through the years of depression and anxiety that I experienced after our second child was born (he is almost 3 and I still deal with some of the after effects of the ppd).
It is a subject that has been sorely ignored and needs to be studied and brought out into the open.
A few other thoughts—for me, I think I know now, that the PPD was a trigger for a life long anxiety disorder that I have. Up until having kids and going through all these hormonal changes I had anxiety but it was just enough in check that I was never on any meds or saw therapists. The support of friends and family, being able to focus on school, all helped keep me balanced and happy. Then the PPD hit twice and that second time, now three years later is still going.
I would be interested in a study in women with a past of depression/anxiety/OCD and their breastfeeding experiences. Maybe breastfeeding just presents too much of a hormonal roller coaster for those of us with a history of some of these mental problems.
I found this really interesting synopsis of a study and its findings that shed a bit of light into this: http://bfmed.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/breastfeeding-and-depression-its-complicated/
This raises some really interesting questions about breastfeeding and women with mental illness. I know my meds and therapy didn’t insulate me against PPD and the continuing anxiety. It is not so simple to tell a woman with mental illness to simply take their medicine/therapy and continue to breastfeed. I wonder if in this insanely pro breastfeeding world we are willing to just say breastfeeding is contraindicated for this group.
Ladies you are not alone! Wow I took a nose dive after weaning my daughter. It took me by complete surprise. I thought I lucked out. Besides depression, I had a brief (thank god) psychotic episode, overwhelming fear, agoraphobia and I was terrified I wasn’t going to get better. My doctor told me to keep smiling at my daughter. I was so exhausted. I dragged myself through that depression, but I kept smiling at her. It passed very slowly. I finally found one mom who told me it took her five years. I was at three years then so two more sounded pretty good. It’s so important to treat yourselves well. Do some fun things just you. You deserve it.
Are you feeling any better yet?? Is your menstrual normal??
My baby is almost 11 months and he weaned himself 3 weeks ago. I am happy to be done breastfeeding, but my hormones have crashed. I feel so depressed and I have nothing to be unhappy about at all. I feel like I am experience post-pard depression late. Now I am wondering what do I do now? I am going to call my doctor. I am curious has anyone had treatment and recovered from this? How long did it take?
Laura, feel free to email me anytime–firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been through PPD twice over the last five years and could give you some support. But for here, I’ll suggest a few main things: Get your hormones checked by a good doc, an Endocrinologist or I got to a specifically holistic nurse practitioner that ended up prescribing me natural progesterone, my cortisol was also out of whack. So a good blood test could help answer some questions and give you a direction to go in. Find a PPD support group: http://www.postpartum.net/ DO NOT isolate yourself, you’ll just get more and more depressed. Don’t be afraid to get on an antidepressant for a while. Things like Zoloft or Prozac aren’t habit forming like the benzodiazapenes like Xanax and Valium and they could get you through a tough period so you can be the best parent you can be. Finding a therapist who can help you organize your thoughts and suggest ways to work on your depression can really help. The last thing–ASK FOR HELP. Don’t be shy. Ask those friends to take the baby/children so you can have an hour to yourself or simply ask a friend to go over to her house for some fellowship.
Thank you for this information and for everyone’s informative comments and feedback. This appears to be such a complex but very real issue and like so many of the other respondents I feel frustrated that this was never mentioned in any of the breastfeeding literature or groups I encountered until now. I was member of an international breastfeeding organization for over 2 years and actually discontinued my membership because of my disappointment with the way leaders avoided discussing weaning in any sort of detail and failed to acknowledge much of the frustration and ambivalence as well as more serious issues like those addressed here which accompany extended breastfeeding and weaning.
While I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to breastfeed my 2 daughters for extended periods of time or my decision to tandem nurse for over a year, I do believe I would have handled some of the challenges associated with this these choices differently and possibly better had there been more openness concerning what to expect. At the very least I wouldn’t have felt I was struggling alone with emotions and physical symptoms many others seem to experience as well.
I am currently weaning my 2 1/2 year old and am experiencing severe mood swings and symptoms of depression and anxiety which remind me very much of the ppd I experienced after her birth, except that it has been going on for almost 3 months and has been particularly severe recently. I finally weaned her older sister completely 2 months ago and drastically cut down on my younger daughter’s nursing then too though we’ve had a few regressions back to frequent day nursing when she’s been ill. For the sake of completeness of information I had suffered from several episodes of mild depression before having children and have had a stressful year with my husband being hospitalized for major surgery, a change in circumstances which led to a loss of regular contact with my 2 closest friends and both my children having been ill and one having been hospitalized/ ending up at emergency several times. Obviously these factors are also contributing to the emotional mess I’m in at the moment but I cannot discount the fact that there is a hormonal component to all of this too as my unstable moods are definitely linked to weaning my older nursling and beginning to wean the younger one and also to certain phases of my menstrual cycle (my husband has also noticed this and the other day played two phone messages he’d saved from a day when I was pretty ok and another when I wasn’t – it was shocking – I sounded like two completely different people). The health professionals I’ve discussed this with don’t seem to take me very seriously when I mention what I’ve described above and I always end up feeling foolish and like a crazy primadonna and leaving their offices without any real resolution to the problem. Has anyone else experienced these symptoms for this long? I’m looking at weaning my youngest completely by Christmas. I’m wondering if using hormonal contraceptive tablets for a few months after that may assist in regulating my hormones (not using any hormonal contraception at present). Does anyone have experience of success with this? Is there anyone else who tandem nursed and experienced severe symptoms when weaning two close together?
Thanks for reading this if you got this far. Writing it all down has things clearer in my head, if nothing else!
I just weaned my son at 7 months old when he started dropping weight. I struggled so hard to make enough milk, even when supplementing, I still breastfed at the start of each meal, and it just ended up being time to wean. It was very quick – over a few days with him doing so well on formula, I really only fed him once or twice a day, and then the last meal he chomped me so hard twice in a row. I tried to feed him once more after that but there was just no letdown at all. In less than a week I was no longer breastfeeding, pumping, or doing much with the feeding at all.
I should have been thrilled – I could FINALLY have my xanax again, and my panic attacks and anxiety would be easier to cope with! Instead, since that time (only about 2 weeks ago), I have been sleeping too much and too hard (even without xanax or any drugs), sad when I get up, hopeless when I go to bed, uninterested in my projects and goals, not eating (because he doesn’t rely on my to anymore) and just generally feeling…well…depressed. There isn’t money in my bank account for the copay to do the doc gig right now (well hello there cost of formula!) so I’m riding it out, I guess. I am just happy to have found that this happened to someone, anyone, else. I never really enjoyed breastfeeding or found it to be bonding on my end, and though he seemed to, he was certainly not interested anymore by the time we stopped.
So yes, this happened to me, too. It was literally that I was fine one day, and the day after he stopped breastfeeding, I felt so…miserable all day each day. For no particular reason. And each day since. My anxiety is worse than ever even when I take my xanax, I am irritable, I don’t enjoy spending time with him, and it’s hard taking an interest in playing with him or hitting milestones. It’s hard on my husband. I, too, thought PPD/anxiety/mood swings was only for the first few months, so I’m just so glad other people experience this. It makes me feel like I can do something about it.
I am experiencing the same thing right now. I weaned my 14-month-old daughter about three weeks ago, and just finished the end of my first menstrual cycle. Yesterday afternoon, I started with extreme anxiety. The only reason I am getting through it, is because I am recognizing that this is the same thing that happened to me after I weaned my son at 17 months about 3 years ago. Although… this time around it is much stronger, but it is the same symptoms. I think the world is going to end, my heart is racing, and I am continually thinking about not being able to provide for my family. I searched to see if weaning could possibly be causing this, so I am glad to see these posts… although I am sorry that other women have experienced this. I am hoping that with some time and my hormones re-adjusting to normal levels, this awful feeling will go away. I wish all of you the best!
Glad you found us Marisa! So sorry you have to deal with this, but glad you recognize that you WILL get better!
I weaned my beautiful girl at 20 months, 2 months ago. Recently I have been so very sad. I just have this emptiness, I lack the ability and energy to do anything, I feel like the world is talking about me and aware of all my insecurities. I have 3 amazing, incredible children yet I feel so lost.
I got my period back Thursday for the first time.’i was hoping this was the cause of my sadness… It still continues though. I don’t want to be this sad. What can I do to find healing?
Ali, have you talked to your doctor about this? If the emptiness and lack of energy continues it could be depression. And please know that if it is depression, it’s nothing you’ve done, it’s simply an illness. It is fully treatable. So please reach out for help if the symptoms keep going, because you definitely don’t have to live with them.
There is such a void on this topic. I’m just at the beginning of this issue for myself. My son is 2.5 and has been weaned a month. And I have never felt like this. I cry all the time. I have overwhelming fears of loss. I feel inadequate when a month ago I felt so blessed and confident and at the beginning of the best part of my life. This cliff caught me by surprise and I don’t know which way to go from here. I’ve been scouring the internet to know I’m not alone and it’s not working. The lack of discussion on this topic leaves me feel less supported than ever. I almost envy those women who get ppd right off the bat in a twisted way for the wealth of information and support available to them.
Lindsay, I’m so sorry that you are feeling alone. I hope that this story at least helped a little bit. We’ll see if we can add more stories on weaning depression to the site! Have you seen any of these?
I have fed my baby for 1 year. I have had a past of depression but nothing has ever been mentioned to me if you stop feeding cold turkey. Im getting panic attacks, worrying, anxiety, sleep insomnia. Im worrying ill not get over it. I mentioned to my doctor said after one week stopping breastfeeding need to ride it out few more then see how feel. I have two other children and hate feeling like this. I looked to see if there are any foods to eat to help with these feelings or anything that you can to to help release the feel good hormone. Ive always been slim with no belly and now bloated like im 9 months pregnant really uncomfortable and a burning sensation in my tummy.
I’m really glad I found this site as I weaned my 2.5 yr old just over a week ago and have felt awful since. I feel anxious, tension in my shoulders, have constant negative thoughts and want to cry quite often. I didn’t know this could happen as I don’t remember feeling this way when I weaned my older daughter at 1.5 yrs. I just hope things settle down and these feelings pass soon!
My baby passed away a month ago and I didn’t experience PPA until I just finished pumping one week ago. I was very very sad after she died, and still am, but I was able to fall asleep fast because I was so tired. I kept pumping to donate, but within a few days of stopping I started feeling very anxious at bed time. My body feels so jittery when trying to sleep. I feel very uncomfortable in even my favorite sleep positions. It takes me over an hour to fall asleep. This is undoubtedly hormonal. I don’t want to take pills. If anyone has found some healthy way of overcoming this please share. I worked out twice yesterday and it took me less time than the night before to knock out, but it was very difficult. I also took my magnesium before bed time.
I know this is an old post, but it was one of the first that popped up when I searched for PPD and breastfeeding ending in tandem. I experienced sudden depression immediately following weaning my daughter from breastfeeding. I was ready and glad to wean her, but all of a sudden I just didn’t want to get out of bed, and like Emily said below a couple years ago, my child was suddenly making me angry even though she was doing nothing wrong. We really need to get this information out there. I’m extraordinarily blessed that my body seems to be normalizing now that my cycles have started again, but I’m seeing that many women recover gradually, and some women don’t recover at all. We’ve gotta inform each other and prop ourselves up.
I am currently trying to stop breastfeeding. My baby (17 months) just weaned from me 2 weeks ago. I am already producing a lot less milk. All this week i have not been feeling like myself. I am cranky and mad for no reason. I am emotional. I feel like crying and just lying in bed. I don’t feel like doing anything anymore. My family has noticed me different. I dont eat but know I have to. I know some of the feelings are from knowing my baby doesn’t depend on me anymore, but i don’t feel right. I don’t want to be put on medication. What do I do? Will this pass? I treat my kids right but I see myself on a rollercoaster.
Don’t feel hopeless. It got better for me. My baby was born ill only to die three months later. The oxytocin ? from pumping all that time helped me tremendously emotionally due to the “happy hormones” being released as a result of pumping. I stopped a month after she died and then immediately began experiencing anxiety attacks. I took almost two weeks to stop because I was pumping enough for twins and couldn’t risk mastitis. I had a feeling of a pulse in my throat like someone pressing on the bottom of my neck, resting heart rate of 130 at times, dizzy, loss of appetite, etc. I started crying a lot more over her death. After three weeks I noticed the severity of my symptoms went away. I feel the loss of oxytocin leaves me susceptible to feeling the sadness more, but if I were a mom who’s child didn’t die I am completely sure things would have stabilized for me. Symptoms were severe for the first two weeks after I weaned off the pump, the third week was obviously diminishing.
Yesterday i told a good friend about many things i’ve been experiencing lately, such as severe anxiety starting at mid day, a light sense of despair, fever at the end of the day…
She was the one who made me think it might be from weaning my 6 month old. I had never heard of any impact other than possible engorgement.
I’m still nursing my baby 50-60% of the time and i had my period once around when she was 4 months old, before i even started weaning.
I’m prone to depression and i was relieved i did not experience much of a post partum depression… I’m thinking it might have been delayed due to prolactin. At least knowing i’m not crazy helps, and i’m almost excited to tell my boyfriend tonight that there’s a medical explanation to how i’ve been feeling.
I thought i’d share how i’m feeling to help document the impacts of weaning, especially since i’m doing it gradually and feel important impacts anyway.
Also, 1-2 weeks ago, i felt symptoms of early pregnancy such as nausea, but i’m not pregnant.
I weaned from pumping in two+ weeks and noticed as i cut back i felt the same symptoms. My baby died a month before i started cutting back on pumping and the “happy hormones” from expressing milk were SO helpful dieting that first month. But once began cutting back the anxiety attacks started happening. things simmered down in about 3 weeks after I stopped. I did not take antidepressants during any of this time. I strongly believe that if I had just cut it off as soon as possible and not stretched it out for the 2 weeks then I would have suffered very severely.
I experienced PPD/PPA really bad after weaning my second child at 14 months. I saw a therapist and got in meds. I recovered from that after a few months. I just had my third baby and 2 weeks before his birth I started having the anxiety and panic attacks all over again. So right after I had him I started Zoloft. I am feeling so much better now thank goodness but I am wondering if I will have it all come back again when I decide to wean baby from breastfeeding when the time comes. I hope not. Im hoping because I am already on Zoloft that maybe it will not be too bad as it was so scary and the hardest times of my life both times. Why can’t it be like….Oh I already had PPD and anxiety before and after birth so I won’t get it when I wean baby from breastfeeding….I wish LOL.
I feel so relieved to find this article. I see myself crying ,having mood swings and I have been so depressed. Its made me question my marriage and parenting skills.i knew something wasnt right. I started wean my one year old like 2weeks ago. I still haven’t gotten my period yet but if that’s what’s going to take this away then i can’t wait. I want to feel normal again.
This is absolutely a real potential problem for mothers. Exactly one week after abruptly weaning my just turned 4 year old, my period starts and extreme sadness and unexplained crying ensues. Totally unexpected because I was looking forward to getting my stubborn night nurser finally weaned and never planned on nursing past 2 years. This isn’t a case of wistful memories of snuggle time…it’s a strange and sudden feeling of grieving and loss and basically uncontrollable crying alone in the dark of night. There certainly must be some hormonal element at play. Hoping this resolves soon!
I nursed my first son until he was 3 years, he quit gradually and it wasn’t a big deal since I was already pregnant with the second one.
Then I nursed my second born until last week. He’s 2y8m and after a cold, he quit suddenly, from being a very enthusiastic milk drinker he started to cry and refuses even to cuddle with me. I know it was time to quit, but i wished he could do it more gradually.
I felt so empty and depressed and eventually started to believe I was quite an immature mother who wasn’t able to let her child go and grow up.
But now I’m very happy to find so many stories about post-weaning blues, it is a big support and feel relieved about not to be the only one who feels like that. Neurochemistry plays a big role, and I understand much more why I feel like to have been thrown to a black hole. Thank you for taking up this issue.
I’m currently struggling with anxiety and I think depression. I just weaned my 26month old (3rd breasted child) from breast feeding about 3 1/2 weeks ago. Ever since then I feel like a downward spiral. I’ve had some tummy issues on top of it but mainly high anxiety, tearfulness, irritation and anger. Feels like bad pms almost daily with a high dose of anxiety. I’m not sure if it’s weaning related and change in hormones but it is a daily struggle. I’ve made an appt with my OB. I hope it levels out and cures itself soon!!!
I have a 2 week old little boy who I was determined to breastfeed since I couldn’t get my first one to latch. I was in the hospital for a week with him because he had jaundice so I was able to have a lot of help getting him to latch. I worked so hard at it and was successful it was going well until he was waking every hour to feed and still wasn’t satisfied. My nipples were starting to hurt so bad and I couldn’t take pumping anymore so I stopped. My husband has been very supportive of my decision and couldn’t stand seeing me in pain and so exhausTed. I thought it would be great to formula feed because now he can be involved and i can get a few moments of shut eye. For the past few days I’ve been feeling so guilty like I have failed as a mother and that I’m not giving my baby what he naturally should have. It’s eating me alive I can’t stop crying. My milk is already dried up and I havnt been doing the things I was doing to make my milk more nutritious and all that so I can’t get him back on the boob. Will this pass, I feel like I’ve lost the bond between my son and I but my husband tells me I didn’t there’s other ways to bond please help me
Jaime, I’m sorry you’re feeling like this. It’s really hard to make decisions like this, but trust that you made the right one. You gave it your very best shot, but it didn’t work out. You made a decision that will hopefully help you feel a lot better physically and more capable of taking good care of your son. Trust that you are doing the right thing and like your husband said, there are many, many ways for you to love and bond with your son going forward. Maybe you’ll be in an even better position to bond with him now that you aren’t in terrible pain and exhausted from it.
really interesting… feeling very low and I have only just realised it has coincided with reduced feeding and weaning.. no depression beforehand. Baby is 9 months old. Trying lots of exercise and sunlight to boost my mood.
I have four children, and each has breastfed for about 2.5 years. There is definitely a connection between getting my period back, weaning, and PPD/A. I went through a severe depression for about a year after my cycle returned and I weaned my third child. I recovered from it after seeking counseling and with prayer and exercise, but it was a long process. My fourth child just weaned last week, but the PPA had already hit hard when my cycle returned about six months ago.
I began EMDR therapy (used for soldiers experiencing PTSD), and have found it to be a miracle. I’ve suffered anxiety attacks, panic, and a flight or flight response to very specific situations for about 16 years (before I had children). I sought this therapy for those symptoms, and that response has been completely wiped away. But, it has also erased the PPA associated with my menstrual cycle returning. This past week, insomnia has been setting in, and I do think it is weaning related. I’m hoping to discuss it at my next EMDR session. I’ve had 7 sessions so far, one per week, and it is covered by my (big, national) insurance company. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a powerful treatment, and requires no anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications.
I don’t feel so alone now. I have 5 children, my youngest is 6 months old. My previous pregnancies and post partum experiences have been quite normal, praise God, but this time around has been very different. I was diagnosed with PPD in late January, after months of misery. The medication was working and I was feeling normal. Then after a month long weaning process, because of blocked ducts and breast infections, I had my last nursing sessions over a week ago. The last 4-5 days have felt so familiar, like the days before I saw a doctor and was treated. I have not had my period yet. I am nervous, sad, and feeling hopeless that I will not feel normal again. I can’t be the mom my 5 children need if I am not well.
Cynthia – I’m so sorry. Have you thought about getting in touch with your prescribing doctor again to talk about your treatment options? Maybe a few simple changes with medications could help? Don’t be afraid to reach out for help again, I’d hate for you to suffer any longer.
Please help…I stopped breastfeeding 4 years ago. I breastfed for over 3 years, the best I have ever felt. Stopped breastfeeding, also I had nightly feedings for 3 years. I started to wake up with panic attacks,severe insomnia, anxiety,depression, zapping in my brain. I didn’t know what it was. No doctor was any help. From my research, the change in hormones caused me these symptoms. I am still not better. But I am not getting panic attacks as much just high anxiety and severe insomnia still. Medications scare me, antidepressants and benzodiazepines almost killed my mom. She is on lexapro now, and she’ll never get off because if she tries she gets withdrawals, so antidepressants ARE and DO cause dependancy, you can’t just stop. Also i can see how benzodiaiazepenes can be addictive I saw it with my mom and others. The people I know on antidepressants cant get off but want to. Your body starts to rely on them. Most who start don’t get off. I eat healthy, etc. And can’t get out of this rut. Any advice?
Lins – I’m so sorry you’re going through this and that you’ve seen medications do so much harm to your family. Antidepressants and therapy are the two most effective treatments for depression and anxiety. Have you thought about trying therapy?
I tried therapy no help. I am glad antidepressants help some, but maybe a crutch in beginning for short term. Thanks.
Lins, I went through the same thing you’re going through. For me, I didn’t feel comfortable taking medications…been down that road years before after my brother died. I found a great holistic practitioner that practices functional medicine. I had hormones tested, stool samples for digestion, thyroid, adrenals, and basic blood work. My hormones were out of whack, thyroid was sluggish, digestion was a wreck. Based on my personal results from the tests, I began following her supplement protocol. My severe anxiety is gone, insomnia much, much less frequent, depression is almost non-existent. I am also seeing a therapist to work through some childhood/adulthood issues I’ve been dealing with. Message me if you have any questions. I’d love to point you in the right direction.
Thanks, it’s still a struggle. Can’t sleep, I get brain zaps every time I try to drift off. But I have better days…
What supliments did she recommended? I’m going through the same and would like to take natural path.
First she addressed my digestion. I took digestive enzymes, probiotics, multivitamins, a hefty dose of vitamin D3. A few months later we addressed hormones. I used a topical progesterone supplement (I had too much estrogen). You need a plan specific to your needs. I’ll be honest, it takes time to feel better. I just kind of drifted through my days until finally one day I noticed I felt a bit better. It was a long process. I felt like I wasnt making any progress for months, until finally I looked back and realized I was better.
Thanks for the reply, I think it will take a while too. If I think about it I felt this way for a long time after I had my miscarriage. I just hope people arround don’t give up on me.
Are you feeling better? Is your menstrual normal??
How are you feeling now?
I have recently stopped breastfeeding my 7 month old and really wish I hadn’t. Id already been diagnosed with PND and it seems a million times worse now, I’m snappy, irritable and barely feel a bond with my son. I’ve been trying to get counselling or just anyone to talk to but I was told ai am still 15th on the waiting list (the one I was put on 6 months ago)
Kayleigh, I’m sorry to hear there is such a wait to see a counselor. Can you make an appointment with your regular doctor to discuss your symptoms until you can see a counselor? You can also join our private online forum to talk with other moms about what you’re going through. You can join here: http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-progress-private-forum
Since you are feeling worse and weaning is recent, you could consider re-starting breastfeeding. An lactation consultant would be able to help, if that’s something you’re interested in.
My daughter is now three and a half. When I stopped breastfeeding her when she was 1 and a half I developed postnatal depression I believe I had it when she was born but it was masked because of the connection and bond I had with her through breastfeeding. At the same time as stopping bf, my relationship with her dad broke down. I spiralled into a horrible place, I felt like I had lost the bond with my daughter completely and was confused about how to.feel about her I lost over 2 stone on weight, cut most of my friendships off and felt that if I ended my life it would be the best thing for my daughter. I still struggle everyday but things are a 1000% times better. I did have some help with medication and counselling however I stopped.taking them.quite quickly as I began to feel the feel the pills were making me feel worse. When talking to a midwife about it at the time she told me that she had never heard of it happening which of course made things worse. There is no way enough information or help for people who develop it after weaning as you are normally signed off from postpartum care by the time weaning starts. I just want to say to anyone experiencing this now, it does get better and me and my daughter have the best relationship and bond ever now.
I’ve struggled with mild depression and ADD my whole life. It actually seems to improve when pregnant (more even tempered, focused, and patient). I stopped nursing about 2months ago and I am struggling with my emotions in a big way. When you start thinking “I wouldn’t mind going to sleep and not waking up”, it’s a bad day. Feeling overwhelmed, unable to focus, discouraged, difficulty making decisions, brain and body have shut down. I’m thinking this may all be related to hormonal changes. I definitely BELIEVE more research should be done. It’s awesome that someone created this site, because the biggest struggle in depression is feeling alone in a sea of negative thoughts. Friends, family, and co-workers would definitely think I was crazy if they could here what goes through my head!!! I recently went to a wellness doctor and had my serotonin and dopamine etc levels tested…they couldn’t test my hormones yet because I recently stopped nursing! Hormones play a big role in mental stabIi lity. Can’t wait to see whats going on in the inside. Maybe there is hope for me! For now I’m trusting God through this storm, and hope to learn something from it all.
Hormones do play a big part, and so many of us struggle after stopping breastfeeding. I hope you can find some answers soon and get back to feeling better. Keep talking with your doctor, okay? And if you need people who understand, you are more than welcome to our private forum – https://www.smartpatients.com/partners/postpartumprogress
I breastfed my son for almost 2 1/2 years. He only fed at naptime and bedtime. Anyways, it’s been 10 days since stopping cold turkey. My son handled it well. We just cuddle moreovee when he brings it up. The last couple of days I’ve been entirely out of energy. I don’t feel like doing anything or going out or seeing people. I just want to stay home in my pajamas. I don’t feel like doing dishes or even making meals. The dishes will have to wait till tomorrow. Still have to feed us both obviously but making a meal just feels like a massive chore. Everything seems 3x harder than it is. I’m not weepy. I have no guilt, I breastfed forever. I do feel a loss, I miss my little guy being an infant. I wish I would have planned the weaning and cherished the last feeding. I just kinda stopped without thinking about it, but I can’t go back now and confuse my child with one last feeding for my own selfish needs. I never thought he’d successfully wean & it has been a success. I remember his first day in the hospital staying up all night with him happily breastfeeding my new adorable little baby. I wonder when I’ll feel better.
It takes time, mama. It’s hard to let go of that gift, I’m sorry. But you are going to be okay, and you have been a good mom and will continue to be a good mom. You may want to talk to someone professionally if you continue to feel symptoms of depression. Sometimes it takes time for your hormones to figure themselves out and then you begin to let go of the grief. Peace to you.
I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one going through this. About a month ago I started weaning my daughter at 13 months and during the process I began just feeling off and wasn’t able to eat anything my appetite was similar to how it is when you’re first pregnant. I also started having panic attacks. Some days I would have as many as 3 panic attacks. I even went to the ER twice because my heart would not stop racing and nothing seemed to calm me down. I had multiple tests done and both times i was told it was just anxiety. I went to see my primary doctor and was prescribed Zoloft after being on the Zoloft for 3 weeks
I feel like I’m improving and my appetite is finally almost back to Normal. I still get anxious and don’t feel like my normal self and it seems like the smallest things overwhelm me, but I am so thankful I am improving. This has been the scariest and the most exhausting thing i have ever experienced. They definitely need to do more research on the effects of weaning and hormones so that women who go through this don’t feel like they are alone or going crazy.
Looking back on things now, I feel like it all started on my daughters first birthday. I was getting her decorations ready for her birthday party. As I was doing this, I felt like I had a fog weighing my mind down. I just couldn’t think. It only lasted for a couple days but then it went away. That same month I had two panic attacks. The first was laying in bed and all of a sudden my heart felt weird. I started thinking oh my gosh what if something is wrong with my heart? What if I have a heart attack? So, I opened up the window for some fresh air, splashed some cold water on my face, and sat on the bathroom floor until I felt better. The second panic attack, I had that same month, I was cooking dinner and I just felt so exhausted again, like I just had this weight come over me and i just continued to make dinner trying to push through it and I began to feel like I was going crazy. I had to go outside to get some fresh air, which didn’t help me feel better. I told my husband how I felt and eventually I was able to calm down and felt like my normal self again. I decided to make an appointment with my primary doctor. She took some blood everything checked out and she told me to take my prenatal vitamins, eat healthy, maybe see a sleep specialist about my child’s sleeping because she was a horrible sleeper. Then came April, This month I got a stomach virus and didn’t breast feed my daughter for two whole days. After My stomach virus was over I started to feel better for about a day. Then suddenly I started feeling like crap again. Looking back I realize I felt like crap because I hadn’t breast fed for two whole days. I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic, shaking and felt like i needed to go to the hospital, but again i was eventually able to calm myself down. The next day I read that breast feeding is great if you have had a virus because your baby will get your antibodies so they won’t get sick, so I started breast feeding again.. and I just happened to feel great for 2 whole weeks. It was now the end of April and I was at a friends house whose daughter was the same age as mine. She told me that the best way she found to do anything was cold turkey. So at that point I was down to breast feeding my daughter just once a day. Shortly after I began to feel sick. I felt exhausted and restless at the same time I didn’t have an appetite, my heart was racing. I had bad insomnia, and I would get so worked up I would start shaking uncontrollably. It had been a week of feeling like this and I couldn’t calm down. What was wrong with me? I was scared. Finally I told my husband something isn’t right I need to go to the ER. So I went to the ER , I had labs drawn and everything was normal. I had an EKG and that was normal. Later that day I had an appointment with another doctor someone my sister in law recommended. The ER reported off to him that everything was normal. He just prescribed me zoloft said i lost a lot of weight that will make people mentally groggy said I should start birth control and sent me on my way. The next day I went to pick up the zoloft from the pharmacy and as the pharmacist was handing me my prescription I started crying. I felt so exhausted like Ive never felt before. I texted a good friend of mine who has been an RN for years worked in the ICU and the ER she has a lot of experience. I told her I don’t know what to do? the doctors didn’t find anything wrong, but I feel like something IS wrong with me. I’m exhausted, crying all the time, and anxious. I said the only thing that is different in my life is that I weaned my daughter. She said “there you go! thats it call your OB.” So the next day that is what I did. I called and spoke to the nurse there and she told me they couldn’t do anything to help me; that I was 15 months postpartum and post partum depression was only diagnosed within the first year and that I would need to talk to a primary doctor. I already had an appointment to see another doctor, this time one that my father-in-law had recommended. I wasn’t able to get in for a few more days which felt like a lifetime. So in the meantime I decided to call the lactation consultant maybe she would know something. She said “yes that makes sense that your hormones could cause something like this.” She told me to call the OB. I called the OB again and talked to a different nurse. This time the nurse said ” Well we don’t really hear about that often you’re just going to have to ride it out.” I felt like I was in a nightmare. Really no one could help me? The next day I talked to my mom on the phone and she said “you don’t sound like yourself somethings wrong you need to get your ovaries checked to make sure its nothing serious.” So I of course freaked out and went to the ER I couldn’t get there fast enough. I had an ultrasound done of my ovaries and an abdominal ct. They still didn’t find anything wrong with me. So then I told myself ok its just anxiety it has to be from my hormones wreaking all this havoc. I was still having multiple panic attacks a day went to see the new doctor I had an appointment scheduled with and she concluded it was indeed anxiety, could my hormone be causing it? “Its a possibility” she said. Unfortunately this isn’t the kind of thing that someone can just do a test come up with a number and let you know 100% what is causing this. Ive had to accept that its just anxiety, which has been so hard I had no Idea it could make you feel so crappy. It is now July and I have started Lexapro and birth control which has definitely been helping. I have also started seeing a therapist. I will occasionally have a panic attack and some anxiety, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. There definitely needs to be more research and education on post partum mood disorders, because if there is more knowledge I feel like it will make it a little less lonely, help you feel a little less crazy, and a little more at peace with it all.
I was fine until I started weaning at 12 months. I had 4 really bad days where I had low motivation and energy and about a week in total of just negative thoughts and feelings.
I am a mental health counselor and I work with a program for mothers with children under 4 years old. Until I experienced this I would not have know this weaning depression existed. I can now better assist other moms going through this.
You all are right, there needs to be more research and information about this phenomenon. Knowledge is power and sometimes just knowing why you feel down and that others have are also experiencing it normalizes the situation and can bring comfort and hope that it will soon pass.
I also felt anxiety symptoms and got hot flashes in that year of breast feeding when my breasts would engorge because too much time would pass since I nursed the baby or pumped. I didn’t hear too much about that phenomenon either.
My sister committed suicide first month flowing weaning due to this depression.
My 23-month-old weaned a little over a week ago. I felt super depressed two days after, then it went away. Now, today and yesterday I’m back in an intense funk. I’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s just like all the life in me went away. I am incredibly exhausted but unable to sleep. I’m making myself go through the motions of things that should be fun, but I feel like I literally cannot experience joy. I hope this goes away soon.
I Started weaning my baby off of breastfeeding like a month ago until a week ago I stopped completely. I started working again and he really was breastfeeding more at night, wasn’t really interested during the day, he is 10months. It’s been a whole week now and my breast still hurt so much, they feel deformed. I am also very moody and have lost my appetite. I am becoming more secluded and don’t really want to spend anytime with people. I feel like in limbo. I’m not sad or mad, I’m just blah. Not sure what to make of this.
You’re normal, mama. This is a hard period for most moms. It’s a mixture of things, including wacky hormones. If your breasts keep hurting and you don’t feel well, ask your doc about mastitis. Sometimes the ducts get clogged with the change to non-drainage. And if the blah feelings persist, pay attention and get help so you can get better. Peace to you!
I have found that, though hormones are definitely a factor in the mood changes, so are nutritional deficiencies. I realized that my ability to detox estrogen was impaired and that caused a lot of problems. Even problems with the immune system. Good diet or not, when your hormones are out of balance and you need extra support in detoxing all these hormones, you could definitely benefit from a good multivitamin to support liver detox. My regular Prenatals didn’t cut it for me. I had to use seeking health prenatal vitamins with real folate rather than the synthetic form.
Wow, this was written a few years ago but no one seems to understand what I am going through and I just truly feel like I am crazy or alone so reading all of these comments and replies has brought a little relief to me. I successfully breastfed my daughter until she was a week shy of 3 years old. I struggled with PPD/A on and off throughout but a very low dose of medication at the beginning really helped. Now we are 11 weeks post weaning and my anxiety and insomnia are at an all time high. My husband does not understand and I struggle to make it through every day. I have realized I need help and have contacted my doctor for an appointment tomorrow. Thank you so much for posting about this.