Postpartum rage is when you feel anger, frustration or lose your temper easily after having a baby. Changes in hormone levels is one of the main causes. Lifestyle changes, changes to your body and other emotions play a role. Certain medications and counseling can treat it.
Postpartum rage (sometimes called postpartum anger) is a mood disruption that causes intense anger, aggression and agitation in the weeks and months after you give birth (postpartum means “after birth”). Some studies show postpartum anger can coincide with other postpartum conditions like postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
Mental health and mood changes are common after childbirth. With so many changes in your hormones, health and daily life, it’s understandable that your mood can shift. Lack of sleep can make these changes even more pronounced. These mood changes are temporary — know that you aren’t alone and that help is available to you if you feel angry, irritable or frustrated.
Experts don’t fully understand why some people have uncontrolled anger after giving birth. Postpartum rage also isn’t an official diagnosis. But, healthcare providers recognize that it exists and can help you. It’s best to discuss your symptoms and emotions with a healthcare provider so they can determine the best way to support you.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself, your baby or others, dial 911 (or your local emergency services number) for immediate help. If you think a loved one is experiencing postpartum rage, offer your support or assist them in seeking medical help.
Postpartum rage and postpartum depression are different — but still closely related — issues. Postpartum rage is when you have outbursts of anger that you can’t control. You can also have symptoms of postpartum depression like sadness, guilt or loneliness, along with feelings like intense anger.
The important thing to know is that you can experience rage without feeling depressed. And having postpartum depression doesn’t mean you’ll also develop feelings of rage.
Postpartum rage isn’t well understood. Most experts don’t consider it a mood disorder as they do with postpartum depression. However, healthcare providers do recognize that rage and depression can coexist.
Postpartum rage can affect anyone who recently gave birth. It’s most common within the first six weeks to one year after you give birth. It may be more common in people with mental health conditions like bipolar disorder or in people who also have symptoms of postpartum depression.
There aren’t many studies specific to postpartum rage. It’s often overlooked or considered a symptom of postpartum depression. However, postpartum mental health issues are fairly common. Almost 1 in 4 people will experience a postpartum mental health condition.
Unlike the other common postpartum mental conditions like depression or anxiety, the key symptom with postpartum rage is anger. With depression, a person is likely sad or prone to crying. With anxiety, a person is more likely to be anxious or worried. However, these symptoms can all coexist. This means you can experience sadness, anger and anxiety all together.
Symptoms of postpartum rage vary. Some of the common symptoms include:
If you have postpartum rage, you’re likely to feel angry, irritable and frustrated. Some describe it as feeling like their blood is always boiling, or that they want to yell and punch their pillow to release frustration.
Researchers are always learning more about postpartum or perinatal (this term relates to the weeks immediately before or after childbirth) mood disorders. There can be several causes of postpartum rage. Some of the causes include:
Several studies found that societal or personal expectations of what parenting would be like can contribute to postpartum rage. Examples of this include feeling judged for your parenting choices, feeling like your expectations of parenthood don’t match reality or feeling like you’re struggling with the responsibilities of parenthood.
If you feel angry after having a baby or lose your temper more easily, you’re not alone. Postpartum rage is common, and it often exists alongside postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. It can also happen on its own.
So many changes are taking place in the weeks after childbirth and most of them are beyond your control. Talk to your healthcare provider about your feelings. Try not to feel shame or hide how you feel. Your provider is there to listen to you and provide treatment.
Postpartum rage isn’t an official diagnosis in the latest text revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (also known as the DSM-5-TR®). Healthcare providers often consider postpartum rage a symptom of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).
Pregnancy care providers typically ask screening questions about depression and anxiety after childbirth. These usually happen at your postpartum checkup, and providers can use your answers to determine if you might need additional help or resources. They’ll also ask you questions about how you’re doing and how you’re adjusting to life with a newborn. Please be honest with them — they’re there to help you and make sure you have the support you need. Your baby’s pediatrician may also ask you questions to determine if you have signs of depression, anxiety or anger.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your pregnancy care provider or primary care physician about how you’re feeling. They can help determine the best treatment for you based on your symptoms. Some of the treatment options could include:
Certain factors may increase your risk of postpartum anger. Some of these include:
You can’t prevent postpartum rage. But, you can be mindful of how you feel and allow yourself to seek help, especially if you have one of the above risk factors.
There isn’t an established timeline for when your symptoms will go away. It depends on the severity of your condition and how well you respond to treatment. One thing is for sure — postpartum mental health conditions are temporary. With support, treatment and time, you’ll feel better.
You’re not alone and it’s OK to feel the way you feel. Your healthcare provider can help find a treatment that works for you. Here are some things you can to do help yourself:
Seek help from your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of postpartum rage like intense anger or feeling like you have no control over your temper. Feeling a range of emotions is common after you have a baby, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help or get treatment. Reach out to a mental health professional, your pregnancy care provider or your primary care provider and let them know how you’re feeling. They can direct you to the best option for support.
There are organizations to help you recover from postpartum mood disorders:
No, they aren’t the same. Postpartum psychosis is a serious mental health emergency. It affects a person’s sense of reality, causing hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. People with postpartum psychosis have a much higher risk of harming themselves, dying by suicide or harming their children. Postpartum rage is less severe than postpartum psychosis and doesn’t involve the same symptoms.
Postpartum depression affects up to 1 in 7 people who give birth. People with postpartum depression experience emotional highs and lows, frequent crying, fatigue, guilt, anxiety and may have trouble caring for their baby. People with postpartum rage typically feel emotions similar or related to anger. Emotions like frustration, irritability, easily losing your temper or wanting to scream are all common. Feelings like sadness or anxiety aren’t as common with postpartum rage, but are common with postpartum depression (which can happen alongside postpartum rage).
Healthcare providers can diagnose bipolar disorder at any time, including after childbirth. If you have unusual shifts in mood (from energetic highs to depressive lows, or vice versa) after you give birth, talk to your pregnancy care provider right away. People with postpartum mental health conditions may be at risk for bipolar disorder due to sleep disturbances and hormonal changes.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Rage is an intense feeling of anger. Feeling irritable, frustrated and angry in the weeks and months after having a baby can be a sign of postpartum rage. If you get angry over small things or feel the urge to scream or punch something, please contact a healthcare provider for help. It’s normal to have a wide range of emotions after you transition to life with a new baby. It’s a big change and it can be overwhelming. Remember, these feelings will pass and treatment is available to help you get back to feeling like yourself. Your provider’s job is to help you, not judge you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/28/2023.
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