Pastnatal rage – What health professionals need to know

It has been referred to as the “unspoken emotion of early parenthood”, however postnatal rage is finally being talked about more openly and freely. While it is not formally a clinical diagnosis, it has been widely recognised as a symptom of depression and anxiety.  

What do Front Line Health Professionals need to know? 

While it can be a common symptom of Depression and/or anxiety, it is also a common symptom of fatigue, stress, overwhelm and at times burnout.  

For some it can take the form of increased Irritability, while for others they find they are more snappy and/or ‘on edge’. This can escalate to feelings and expression of anger and rage.  

Often these feelings or expressions of rage and anger are associated with great distress and shame.  

Symptoms of postnatal rage 

Symptoms of postnatal rage may include: 

  • Screaming or swearing more often 
  • Difficulty controlling your temper 
  • Physical expression of anger such as punching or throwing things 
  • Experiencing violent thoughts or urges 
  • Feeling a flood of emotions afterwards, including shame.
  • Feelings of powerlessness 
  • Difficulty sleeping 

While it is common to have some frustration during a tough transition like having a new baby, postnatal rage is more intense than standard anger and it can be hard – or feel impossible to ‘switch it off’. 

Tips for health professionals

  • You can help by normalising and building understanding of these types of thoughts and behaviours 
  • Spend time building rapport so you can ask questions that will help the individual feel more comfortable to share with you 
  • Know your referral pathways 

What do Therapists need to know? 

Much of what we have covered for front line health professionals relates in the therapeutic space as well. However, as we are generally providing longer term support and more in-depth assessment and treatment there are further considerations.  

What should therapists provide? 

  • Identify triggers and what factors exacerbate or impact the symptoms 
  • Explore safe options for coping when feeling anger or rage 
  • Dreams vs reality can be helpful to identify and work through 
  • Encourage self care and assist your clients to find healthy ways to support themselves  
  • Build support network and assist client to build their village of support 
  • Invite partners to join sessions to explore and support communication, or link to couple support services 

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