Motherhood

The Hardest Two Months of My Life

In an effort to be authentic, I’d like to talk about something difficult I went through as a new mother. A year ago, I went though the worst two months I’ve ever experienced. I never mentioned it on the blog. I couldn’t; I was too overwhelmed. But now that a whole year has passed, I want to share my experience with you…

Flashback: Toby was eight months old. It was a chilly January in New York, and we had just had a blissful Christmas vacation. But suddenly I started feeling bad. Out of nowhere, my mind started obsessing and worrying about inconsequential things; I had trouble sleeping (I’d wake up in the night and feel gripped with anxiety and fear); I began feeling very down, like that heavy feeling you get in your chest when you’re sad about something. Why? I had no idea. But I knew it wasn’t good.

Over the next couple weeks, I felt worse and worse. I felt guilty because I had a wonderful baby, a loving husband, and a great life on paper, yet I was inexplicably falling apart. Although I had loved taking care of Toby since he was born eight months before, it suddenly seemed exhausting to look after a child. I dreaded hearing his cries in the morning and having to get out of bed and face the day. I felt utterly overwhelmed and exhausted. Work projects seemed especially intimidating. Even the smallest work decisions seemed like insurmountable obstacles, and I was quickly moved to tears. I felt certain I would disappoint the people I was working with and for.

My self esteem plummeted, and I felt completely overwhelmed. I would read other blogs–Oh Happy Day, Swissmiss–and think, how are these women doing so much? How can they handle everything–job, family, life–and get it all done and seem so happy? What is wrong with me? I wondered.

Through my sad eyes, I read blogs and saw strangers on the street and just assumed everyone had a perfect life. When I told that to Alex, he swore to me that everyone, without exception, had their own true story, their own struggles, their own flaws, worries, concerns; everyone is human. And then he said, “Look at your own blog, after all. People would have no idea that you’re going through this. You come off like you’re handling everything effortlessly.” That was true, I realized. (I mean, look at this post, for example; I was feeling terrible and insecure that day. It’s the type of event I would have normally loved, but instead I felt self-conscious and lame.)

To explain my sadness and worry, I looked at my life and tried to point to something—my career, right? It must be ending, I figured. Everyone would surely stop reading my blog and it would just fade away; people would stop hiring me for projects, and I’d never get work again; I convinced myself of these things. And I was a bad mother—I didn’t know if I was making the right choices about sleep, food, discipline, everything. And I was a bad wife—I was suddenly boring and cried a lot. Alex would get sick of me. My friends would stop hanging out with me, I would be alone from now on, and then how would I fill the endless days? My mind took on crazy scenarios, and life felt so bleak.

When you’re feeling down, you often compartmentalize it, right? You have to get out of bed in the morning, so you try to take a deep breath and get through as much as you can–working, going to dinner with friends, watching TV. You try to put your sadness out of your mind and put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t want these feelings to bleed into my whole life, so I tried to keep them bottled up as much as possible.

At the time, I wasn’t able to mention my sadness on the blog. Even now, I don’t know what I would have said if I had written about it. And I didn’t want to admit–even to myself–how lost I suddenly felt. It was disorienting and inexplicable, and I felt like it would never end. My sadness felt like my new way of being.

(I *almost* mentioned it in this post, which I wrote right after I was feeling better again, but I couldn’t. It was still too close to home.)

Although I try to keep Cup of Jo as honest and true as possible (and am always happy to share personal things), I wanted to keep the blog separate while I was depressed–and keep it a place where I didn’t have to think about my sleepless nights and strange sudden deep sadness and self doubt.

Even most of my best friends had no idea. I told Alex (of course; it was obvious to him), my parents, my sister and brother, and just a couple friends. I remember my sweet friend Jason took an afternoon off work to come hang out with me. I barely talked. I kept thinking that he must think I was so boring and wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore.

It came in waves. Sometimes I’d feel better, almost like myself again. Other times, I’d feel so overwhelmed with sadness and hopelessness that I’d feel like I couldn’t move or breathe.

Honestly, it’s hard to think back, but here are a few of the tough moments I remember:
* One evening, I was crying on the phone with my sister Lucy, while holding Toby. I looked up and saw myself in the mirror and thought how sad I looked, and how worried Toby looked, even though he was still so little.
* My mom came to visit, and I sat on the sofa and looked at the floor and could barely manage to whisper, “I am so depressed.” I would just lie with my head in her lap and she would stroke my hair.
* I was walking down the street with Alex and Toby on a sunny day, but it felt dark to me. And, even though I adore them, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be anywhere. And Alex said to me, “You’re so sad, you can barely walk down the street.”
* I was walking to a work meeting on a snowy day. The whole world felt grey. I just wanted to lie down on the street and fall asleep. It was hard to keep moving.

One afternoon, while taking a walk along the Hudson River, I told my mom, who was visiting us, that I wished that Toby had a different mother. He deserved more, I thought. I felt like such a failure: I had always wanted to be a mother. I always had baby fever. I always looked forward to having children. But now that I had a sweet, curious, beautiful baby, I suddenly couldn’t handle motherhood. I felt exhausted and inept. I hated seeing or reading about families with more than one child, because that meant that they could handle having a baby…and even choose to have another. What was wrong with me? I didn’t want Toby to be affected by this weighty sadness I was feeling.

Writing down these words feels strange now. That time feels so far away from me, now that a year has passed, but it was so rattling and all-consuming at the time. I felt like a totally different person. I thought it would never end.

Of course, I had ok moments, too. I felt some relief when watching TV in the evenings. I liked having friends over, as long as I wasn’t expected to talk much. Every Saturday afternoon, Toby and I would go to the Upper West Side for a playdate with my friend Leigh and her two sons. Hanging out at Leigh’s apartment was cozy, she’s easy to talk to, her boys were charming, Toby loved playing with their toys, she’d make a delicious lunch. Leigh had no idea that I felt so bad. I once told her that I felt overwhelmed by “the juggle” of everything, but I only mentioned it in passing. (She was shocked months later, when I told her the full story.) It was a relief to hang out with her and NOT talk about it. I still felt sad underneath, but I enjoyed those days and found them refreshing and bolstering.

But overall, for six weeks–from late January to early March–life felt really, really dark. I couldn’t bear thinking about the future. Every day felt long and exhausting, and I couldn’t imagine making it through all the days ahead of me.

My mom, my sister and Alex kept telling me over and over: This is a clinical depression, not your life; you must have some sort of chemical imbalance, some sort of medical reason why you’re feeling like this. But I didn’t believe them; I thought I was just sad because I was lame and going to fail in life, but a tiny part of me held a flicker of hope that maybe they were right. With their encouragement, I started seeing a therapist, and she gave me tools to help with anxiety, but overall I remained overwhelmingly sad.

The funny thing about depression is that you don’t know that it’s depression—like, chemical imbalance in your brain, or a hormonal crash. You just think it’s your actual life–that your career really IS ending, that you really ARE a terrible mother, that your husband really WILL stop loving you, that friends DO think you’re boring. At any time in your life, if you just start feeling bad in your mind and mood, you can always come up with a random reason to point to–oh, it’s my job! Oh, it’s my dating life! Oh, it’s my looks! Oh, it’s just me being an awkward person! When you’re depressed, you don’t realize that your life actually is fine–you’re simply sad because you’re depressed. The depression is the reason for the depression.

After about six weeks of feeling so low, a funny thing happened: I woke up one Tuesday morning, and it was over. Just over. It felt like I had been swimming in a pool, and suddenly—woosh!—I had resurfaced and my head had come back out of the water, and I could see the bright sun and breathe in the fresh air again. It felt like waking up from a bad dream. Suddenly, I was myself again. That Tuesday morning, I woke up, the sun was shining and I felt happy again. My depression had just…ended.

And the crazy thing was: I got my period the very next day, for the first time in over a year and a half–since before my wedding day, since before I found out I was pregnant. It was as if my hormones had finally figured themselves out, and boom! I was back to normal. And that’s the first time that I realized what had happened. Suddenly, I looked back at the situation and slapped my forehead with the realization: Of course! My depression was related to weaning.

Here’s what had happened, I realized: 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.

Next, I researched depression related to weaning and it all made sense. I’ve also now spoken to many other women who have been through the exact same situation–including the wife of our friend C., whom he described as getting “hit by a mack truck” when she weaned their baby.

A lovely Cup of Jo reader, who went through the same thing, had written to me: “When some women wean, they experience a depression similar to postpartum depression, because of the drop in the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. (Studies have shown these hormones produce the same kind of ‘feel good’ as cocaine or ecstasy.) So, when I weaned, I was having a hormonal crash, similar to a withdrawal. It was something my counselor didn’t catch until I told her—and it was something I really hadn’t heard about before. There are tons of online articles about the benefits of breastfeeding and about postpartum depression, but unless you are really looking for ‘weaning’ and ‘depression’ on google, you won’t find much. This is unfortunate because I suspect many moms just chalk it up to lack of sleep, not adjusting to the new situation, or a plethora of other things…If I had known that depression was something to look out for when weaning, it would prevented a lot of turmoil (my husband wouldn’t have felt as helpless, I could have taken more proactive, preventative measures, etc.)”

And I agree: Even though there’s a wealth of information about postpartum depression right after you have a baby, it was virtually impossible to find information about depression related to weaning. But now that I’ve spoken to other mothers who have experienced the exact same thing, with the exact same timing, I know that it’s a real condition. I found a mention here, and a forum here. [Update: A lovely reader recommended reading this post, as well; thank you, Kathleen!] But otherwise, depression around weaning seems to be a real gap in medical research and awareness. (One psychiatrist, whom I called for an appointment, actually said to me, “Well, I guess anything’s possible.”) I hope that people will become more aware of it, and more research and preventative measures will be developed.

Thankfully, once the depression ended, it really was over. This past year has been wonderful. My energy and confidence are back, and I’m honored and thrilled to be raising Toby, who is such a joy and a funny, lovely little person. I love my family with all my heart. We’ll surely go through more ups and downs in life, but this year has been great—and restorative—and now I feel ready and able to handle future bumps in the road.

I wanted to share my experience, since, hopefully other wonderful mothers who go through this will recognize it for what it is, and get help for clinical weaning-related depression, instead of just thinking that it’s them, their own life or failure to handle motherhood. I would recommend being slow and careful around weaning, and if you do feel the blues, or a more intense depression, get support and know that you are not the only one who has gone through this. As my lovely friend said, “If I could spare anyone going through what I did, I would for sure want to.”

Also I have a huge new respect and humility for people who suffer from depression, and I’ll never again secretly think that someone should just “shake it off” or “snap out of it.” People are heroes for getting through it. In a way, I’m glad that I went through this because if friends or family or even sweet Toby ever goes through a depression, hopefully I will better understand how they’re feeling and maybe know a few things to say to help them get through it.

What about you? Have you ever experienced depression or anxiety? Was it related to having a baby, a hardship you went through, life in general, or no reason in particular? We really are all in this together. Lots of love to you, as always. xoxo

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
–Mary Oliver, Dream Work

P.S. Related: My own balance of work/baby/life, and the schedules of seven other moms

(These photos are from last May, when I was already feeling much better:)

(Poem via Andrea)

  1. Shanlen says...

    My girl turned one this week and I’ve known for a while that I would likely need to wean her so that I could have some diagnostic testing and resume medications I couldn’t during breastfeeding. And about two months ago, she got her first four teeth and began biting. We mostly worked through that, though I started dropping feedings at that time, replacing them with my frozen stash. So I would say it’s been a gradual process, and we were down to just overnight nursing sessions (usually two each night) when we stopped cold turkey on her birthday. During the last two months, when we began dropping feedings, I’ve been extremely irritable, especially with my husband. Little things that I always overlooked now became major slights that I immediately complained to him about. And then a few days before my daughter’s birthday, I began having muscle aches all over my body throughout the day for no apparent reason. A few days after her birthday and I’m still experiencing these aches. I’m also very sad and grieving the end of the special time I got to share with my one and only child (she was an IVF miracle). Thanks for sharing your story. It was comforting to find other accounts on-line and see that I am not alone. I had been very concerned and educated about post-partum depression, yet never heard of post-weaning depression until I started searching.

    • Mia Mancini says...

      How do you feel now lovely?

  2. Rachel says...

    Thank you for writing this post. It’s August 2019 for me, three babies since 2015.

    I really appreciated hearing your words and your story.

    I warned my 8 month old son when I found I was pregnant again. Walked in to a huge wall of depression. Think I already had PND with him. It was a really really hard horrible time when it should be so lovely.

    I noticed this thought life couldn’t possibly be me and asked for help from my GP. They prescribed antidepressants. Within a matter of days the depression dimmed and my own voice came back. I could function again. Only then did I realise how dark it had gone. And how sick I really was.

    I’m so grateful for blogs and comments like this that help me realise I’m not alone.

  3. Karla says...

    Hi thank you for this. It’s 2019. I don’t know where to start by I need some guidance. I’ve breadtfed for seven years straight for three children. i finally stopped. I’m paying for those years. I don’t know what Else to say. Im overweight and I’m struggljng with hear hormones. I just quit cold turkey two weeks ago and I’ve never felt so odd and sad like I do in my life. I also have anxiety. Wake up prematurely. You name it. This cup of jo resonates to me to the T. I think I began having some hormonal issues prior to weaning my son off but once I completely did it’s been turmoil

    • Elvira Cuccurullo says...

      Hi Karla, welcome to the group, we are all in the same positions. Wow! You have breastfed so long, and of course now you feel some hormonal issues.
      I have anxiety too but is not that much bothering me, for me is this “disconnection from the world” feeling that I have that bothers me, makes me thinki i am getting crazy. Fortunately some of the ladies in here have it so i feel less alone but damn it’s hard. If you need to talk feel free to email me as well. I would do a whatsapp group as well if someone joined it so we can talk more often about how we feel. Xx
      Email: elviramigani@gmail.com
      +447392806107

  4. Maria says...

    Thank you so much for this post. I am 8 months pp and have weaned my baby in the last two months, together with returning to work. My baby doesn’t give me any trouble, she eats well, sleeps all night and barely fusses – so it’s hard to explain to people that she isn’t the source of my anxiety. This is very new to me, I think it’s the first time I feel these waves of anguish for no reason.
    I feel insecure at work. I feel like everything is too perfect and that something bad is bound to happen. I feel like I’m slowly going crazy. I don’t feel I’m as sharp as I use to be.
    This has all made me feel physically ill – chest pains here and there, shortness of breath sometimes, a knot in my throat – after reading this I am sure it’s not heart nor dvt related.
    Thank you once again, I am going to schedule a doctors appointment right away.

    • Elvira Cuccurullo says...

      Hello!! How do you feel now? Did the doctor say something? Thanks.

  5. Brittany says...

    My milk starting decreasing dramatically out of no where. I then started having extreme anxiety and the weirdest sensation as I was trying to fall asleep. I would be just about to drift to sleep and then experience a “brain zap” or “adrenaline rush” throughout my body. It keeps me from falling asleep for hours. Finally after hours of this every night I will fall asleep: but not deep sleep. I am going on only a few hours a sleep at night. I am not on any medications. I am thinking it’s hormonal. Was wondering if anyone else experienced this as they were drifting to sleep ?

    • KL says...

      Brittany! I hear this. I have been suffering from pregnancy and postpartum hormonal-related insomnia for quite a while now, but since weaning it’s getting worse. Honestly, Xanax (since weaning), a combination of herbal supplements, CBTI methods (eg. getting out of bed if I don’t fall to sleep within 20 minutes), and listening to the podcast “Sleep with me” has been helpful (until the last couple of nights, it’s now reverting so I need to talk to my doctor). I know EXACTLY that “adrenaline rush” you mention, it’s happened to me so many times. I hope you’re able to talk with your doctor about something to help with anxiety (medication, or therapy, or CBTI, etc) as you’re working through this. Sending you love, I know personally how hard this is for you.

    • Brittany Haskell says...

      Thank you so much for responding. I’m so sorry your still dealing with it. How long has it been happening? I am hoping it won’t last forever: I am going to be getting my hormone levels checked very soon

    • Elvira Cuccurullo says...

      Hi lovely! I have felling the same plus anxiety and some other very weird feeling such this kind of “I am not in this world anymore” feeling that makes me worried, this “brain zap” that you said, here I am. I don’t even know how to explain. Sometimes I feel better (I have noticed that I feel better when I am fare from my period) by the way sorry for my English I am italian. I have gave up breastfeeding after 18 months since end of February I feel so depressed (even if inside me I am like,I know it’s not depression), but I feel down, no energy, I dont feel anymore myself, I feel worried and I am that feeling I was saying before of “out of world ” that I hate. Now are 4 month and I still feel bad, even if I feel better then before, but it feels like it never end. I am just waiting that day of waking up and feel totally ok, completely myself. I thought about 2 weeks ago that that day came, but then now here I am again (is coming the period so probably that’s way) but all came again. I had enough I want to go back to feel normal. How do you feel? Hope you are feeling better. Xoxo

    • Brittany says...

      Hi Elvira, thanks for commenting. I hate you are going through too. The “brain zap “ thing I get is right as I am drifting off to sleep every night. I feel an electric shock sensation to my head and it jolts me awake. And adrenaline rush to follow: I am keeping track of these and I do notice it is about 3 weeks out of the month, a lot more intense around my period. Are you taking any medications to help you?

    • Elvira says...

      Hi Brittany I have tried to message you but it doesn’t let me I don’t know why. That’s my email of the message goes through. Elviramigani at gmail. Com
      Chat you there. Xoxo

    • El says...

      I have had 5 babies and after my 3rd I started noticing trouble sleeping. What I experienced was very similar to what you describe as an adrenaline rush that wakes you up. I also had this strange feeling that my pulse was making my entire body shake in a rhythmic sensation. The first time it happened, I thought my husband was tapping the bed with his foot and then quickly realized my body was slowly rocking on its own. It was very disturbing. I talked to my cardiologist, my physician and also my OB about this and all were stumped. Anxiety was the suggested culprit. Recently, my 5th child has decided its time to wean. We’ve gone from nursing 4 times, sometimes more for comfort, to once a night and my hormones are in a tailspin. I have woken up several times with an adrenaline rush as you described and the same feeling in my head. I have also experienced anxiety and hopelessness and lack of energy during the day. Thanks for posting your comment. Even after experiencing this with my last 2 babies, it still bothers me. It helps to hear others experiences with it and remind myself that I’m not alone, I’m not going crazy and that it’s probably hormones trying to finding balance again. Hang in there fellow mama!

  6. Ravali says...

    Thanks Jo for writing this post!

    I experienced depression on and off through my life, and it was intensified in the two months after I weaned my baby daughter. I was also experiencing other personal issues (illness of a parent, marital problems) so I had little help or time to deal with my demons. As a result, to my eternal regret, I made some questionable personal choices and hurt a few close family in that period.

    I wish I had known that depression after weaning is a thing. I expect many women go through it but they don’t have the power and reach that you do to publicize it. Thanks again!

    It took me YEARS to realize that I wasn’t a failure or a terrible person, and that it was the depression making me feel so. This, even after realizing that I suffered from depression. I wish I read your post 10 years ago, I hope someone reading this now won’t have to go through what I did.

  7. Ann says...

    I was so surprised to see this was written in 2012 & is still the main resource on the internet – it’s both great and terribly sad that we don’t have more! So THANK YOU so much for sharing.
    I’m slowly weaning my 14month old. I had PPD and don’t feel like I ever fully recovered. My care provider told me she didn’t think I would until I stopped nursing completely (@ my 6 week PP visit). I continued to nurse for over a year anyway. It’s been really bumpy. I’m proud that I stuck it out & did what I believed was best for my baby, and I’m also sad it’s been so hard. I’m down to one feed/day. But maybe I need to just completely stop? Anyone have advice on that? I feel so guilty bc she wants to nurse all the time and I feel like I am emotionally tormenting her by not letting her nurse (except for the mornings) which makes me even more sad.
    I’m tired of feeling like a failure as a mom. I feel ashamed that I’m not able to “handle” motherhood. I feel guilty that my amazing husband has to deal with my heavy depression on top of everything else we have going on. I thought I always wanted more kids, but now I can’t imagine – and this makes me so incredibly sad. Everything just feels like it takes so.much.energy (getting dressed, unloading the dishwasher, achieving anything at work, etc). I basically just feel ashamed and sad and tired. It’s hard to not feel like the depression is not a part of me.. it feels fully integrated.

    • Steph says...

      Oh Ann… I feel like I wrote this but 9 months ago when I was in the thick of it. I too was down to one feed per day and was barely able to function, my daughter was 11 months old and I felt like I could leave my family and it wouldn’t matter because I was so useless. So hard writing that now but that’s how I felt. My husband sat me down and said it’s happned again (I went through the same with my first) and although he said that previously, something hit that time. I stopped that day and within a week or two felt a world of difference. I balanced my hormones with a herbal supplement and I felt a depression lift that had been there since my first – I wasn’t severe for years on end but never felt fully happy since becoming a Mum. My oldest is now 4 1/2 and my youngest 20 months and I’m so, so happy. I’m loving life and love being a Mum – words I never thought I’d say as I used to always feel like I wasn’t meant to be a mum cause I was so miserable all the time. It will get better – you are an amazing mum for wanting the absolute best for your baby but it’s ok to step back and want the absolute best for yourself as well. I hope this helps in some way. All the best to you xo

    • KL says...

      Steph, if you’re getting notifications on this somehow, what was the herbal supplement??

    • Steph says...

      Hi yes I am still getting notifications… this is the supplement I use:

      https://www.bioblends.com/nz/product/cycle-essentials/

      Recently my anxiety was up again and my period was 7 days late (not pregnant) which is very unlike me… I think it was due to a stressful month so I’m back on these and honestly within 2 weeks my anxiety has gone which tells me 100% that my anxiety is caused by hormonal imbalance. Have to keep my stress levels down ;)

    • KL says...

      Thank you so much! Unfortunately they don’t ship to the US, but they noted which herbs are included. Funnily enough, I’ve been very recently incorporating more herbs, and these are all on the list I have. I’m going to talk to my doctor about this combination, thank you! And I totally agree. I’m convinced (even though my doctors aren’t) that this anxiety (resulting in INTENSE insomnia) is hormonal related. It started when I was pregnant but didn’t yet know it, and I’ve had some really terrible times in my life and my sleep was NEVER disrupted. Thank you for sharing your experience (though I’m sorry you had it) and for sharing this supplement. Xo

    • Elvira Cuccurullo says...

      Hi lovely how do you feel now? Don’t know if you still get notifications but I try as I am feeling down again. It’s like it never end.

  8. I know this is an old post, but I am so happy I found it! I’m currently struggling with this and I was going crazy try to find the reasoning behind my new found brain fog. Three weeks in and my symptoms are not subsiding but it does make my anxious mind feel at ease knowing that there is a reason for the disconnected feeling. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  9. Lisa says...

    Thank you for this post. I see that it was written over SEVEN years ago, but it’s still getting comments! I stumbled across it after doing a google search on ‘breastfeeding weaning depression’… so I think we’re all figuring it out that THIS IS A THING and it needs more awareness.

    I too thought I had managed to escape post-partum depression. I didn’t realize that fluctuating hormones can contribute to depression even many months after giving birth. My daughter insisted on nursing until shortly after she turned two. After my period came back (sometime when she was around 12 months but, hey, still breastfeeding) I started having terrible mood-related PMS symptoms every time that time of the month rolled around. I would turn into a monster for a day or so, right at the same time of my cycle every month. Crying in the bathroom for two to four hours around the time I’d be getting PMS was the norm for many months.

    Now that I’ve weaned my daughter (against her will) I’m struggling with intense feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sadness… and I’m STILL having terrible mood swings around the time when I have PMS. I do feel like this will slowly get better, but it has been hard.

    I should point out, too, to anyone reading this comment who may be experiencing these symptoms that- in addition to seeing a therapist if you need one- a healthy, nourishing diet and regular moderately intense exercise seems to have helped quite a bit through this time.

    Thank you again for writing this article. It has helped me to remember that I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE who is experiencing these emotions.

    • Madison says...

      I have a very similar situation to yours, however, mine is not 2 yet, but I believe he will want to nurse until at least then if not later. As soon as he weans himself I’m going to a natural path and getting put on natural progesterone hormones. I did this with my last and it was a night and day difference. These hormones in combination with a good diet and exercise, as you mentioned, are key. In the meantime…lots of tears and being patient with myself and my children. : )

  10. KL says...

    In case you still get/read comments on older posts, I just wanted to let you know that what you do here matters. I’ve suffered from intense insomnia since I became pregnant and it’s still going 6 months postpartum. It comes in waves, and this week it came back full force again. I knew a quick search on your blog would bring up something for me to read, and reading your post and so many comments from others here helped me feel better about not being alone. Also, I used the Sleep With Me podcast you recommended. I slept much better last night (not perfectly, but better!). Was it this post? The natural end of my insomnia cycle? Who knows, but either way, thank you. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but I honestly thank you for sharing it. Most blogs lack the authenticity and connection your blog provides, and you truly feel like a friend sometimes. <3

    • Brittany says...

      My ismonia is awful. As I am just drifting off to sleep I have this “brain zap /adrenaline rush” do you experience that?

    • KL says...

      Hey Brittany, just responded to your other comment. Not sure if this is cool to do, but hey, why not.: kmloeffler@gmail.com. Reach out to me if you’d like, I’d love to chat. Still going through this, but it’s manageable now. <3

  11. Margaret says...

    I’m weaning my second baby now and the depression has hit hard again. It’s crazy out of my control. I feel like I never really recovered from my depression from my first weaning. I had NO pregnancy or postpartum depression with my first. With my second baby the first trimester depression was awful and I just can’t shake this feeling that life is meaningless. I feel like this is a dirty secret because I’m a psychologist myself helping others through their issues.

    • Suzi says...

      Hi Margaret, not sure if you’ll get this response but your comment really hit home with me as im in a very similar situation. I have a degree in psychology and a PhD in HCI and i almost feel like the knowledge is a curse because I too get feelings that this (life) is all a game that we have to play along to. But, i know this dreadful feeling is a result of my anxiety as I experienced it for the first time 2 years ago when i was overwhelmed. All i can say is i 100% know that i can shake this feeling because i have once before. It took time and a lot of self help from diaries to meditation but i know that it gets better so i am trying again and determined to shake this feeling. I stopped feeding 4 weeks ago but started gradually reducing 4 weeks prior and thats when it all started again. Thanks jo for your article its humbling knowing im not alone and that you got through it. I know i will too i just hate the process of it its exhausting in every aspect of it x

  12. Susan says...

    Hi Andrea,
    I am going through the exact same thing as you regarding health anxiety. Let me know if you want to chat off line and perhaps we can share resources. You can email me at susangodssmith@gmail.com. Hope you get better soon.

  13. Rachel says...

    Jo- earlier today I was standing in Target and the thought of walking to the next aisle over to find bread was so overwhelming I felt I could barely do it. That was the wake up call to google “weaning and depression” which led me to this article via Kelly Mom. I clicked on the link and then exclaimed to my husband, “I love this blog…and she got weaning depression too!” Thank you thank you. Just knowing this is a thing has helped me feel better already. I started to examine the depression and compartmentalize it as “weaning depression” rather than my reality. Hopefully I can start to feel like myself again soon. Your blog was there for me during the 3am newborn feeds and now during the weaning blues- thank you thank you.

  14. Ali says...

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been dealing with postpartum anxiety (manifested as hypochondria/health anxiety). Today is actually the day I have stopped breastfeeding completely. I’m hopeful that with some time things will balance out and I will have a day where I wake up feeling like me again (as you described).

  15. Harriet says...

    Thank you so much for this article. It’s helped me to finally identify how I’m feeling. I never realised this was ‘a thing’ even though I’m currently weaning my second baby (a 20 month old little girl).

    • Elvira says...

      Hi ladies and yes here is me with the same story. To be honest I have had this situation once already after giving up the contraceptive after 3/4 months i got pregnant and all stopped but Now after 18 months of breastfeeding I gave up about 3 months ago and here we go again. Now I am starting feeling better but I had 2 month of mental pressure, I had moments where I couldn’t even talk because I felt overwhelmed and others feeling ok, not myself but ok. My feelings were anxiety, very low energy I had to stay lyed down, shaking, waking up in the middle of the night in panic, but the most bad thing was my thoughts, I had no future in my mind, no good feelings only bad once and sometimes I had a moment where I couldn’t help it but feeling like my mind was exploding (I don’t even know how to explain it) I could not think me in a future because it felt like it would never end BUT like a week or so ago, something switched on, suddenly, while I was talking about it with my friend who is experiencing the same thing on the phone, I started thinking of what i was saying and telling in my mind “why are you saying those bad things?” Like it wasn’t myself expierceing it I was like “wait” then I went to bad thinking about tomorrow, which wasn’t a “normal ” thing in this period. The day after I felt so good I FELT MYSELF AGAIN! But sometimes like Now I am ok, in 3 days need to arrive the period so yesterday and today I was moody and some moments with anxiety but I think “no no it’s all ok is going away ” and I am fine, but I know that I need I bit more time to feeling really myself again, and with period is anyway a bad moment for us so I am ok. But yes ladies this is actually a thing. I have been to a endocrinologist and he told me that can be something called premestrual dysphoria but it can be related to the end of breastfeeding and he told me “is not in your mind you are not mad” he saved me because even if I had experienced once after the contraceptive you think is in your mind anyway. Because it’s hard. Sorry for my English I am Italian. Thank you for all your comments and for the blog! Thank you very much. We are going to feel better again! A big hug!

  16. Thank you *so much* for sharing your story. When I went through post-weaning depression last year, it took me two months to figure out what had triggered what felt like a very random darkness. And the only reason I was able to finally identify it as weaning was because I had read this post five years earlier! I remembered it one day and it all clicked. After that, I was able to get the right treatment and very quickly came out of the horrible depression. So, THANK YOU!

    (If anyone else is feeling this way, maybe my story could be helpful? I shared my full experience on my podcast called “Kin”: from how I weaned to remembering this blog post by Joanna, from my conversations with my family and doctors to the treatment I received.)

    Anyway, THANK YOU, Joanna. God bless you for sharing this very personal story. It literally changed my life.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh, this means so much to me. Thank you for sharing xoxo

  17. Sarah says...

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Iʻm currently feeling really down in the dumps, slowly weaning my 15 month old baby and just so overwhelmed by it all. Iʻm relieved to know that others have gone through the same experience — Iʻm waiting for the day when my depression goes away too!!

    • Elvira says...

      How do you feel now? Xx

  18. Lauren says...

    This makes so much sense. But I’m wondering if this kind of experience is possible even when one is doing extended weaning. My daughter is now down to bfing 2x per day at 20 months, but has been for a while now (with the occasional exception when she’s super upset or sick, in which time I let her increase). I wonder if this has caused me to be in a state of limbo, since I’m not bfing regularly throughout the day, but I’m not weaning completely. I mean even my meds can’t touch this level of anxiety and depression, and my family needs their mom/wife back. My husband has asked me to wean, so I can feel better. Maybe finishing this is in fact the answer. Oh but it is it’s own struggle to finally be at the end. I’ve been crying for weeks dreading it (but I can’t keep living like this).

    • Steph says...

      Hi Lauren, it is def possible – I was down to one feed per day and just hit rock bottom and my husband sat me down and said the same thing to me, I stopped that day as I knew that was causing my despair and within one week I was feeling so much better, I weaned over 5 months to help prevent the depression as I had it after weaning my first over two weeks so I was in extra denial cause I thought I was weaning ‘right’ this time… hope this helps… all the best to you and your family xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i agree that it’s definitely possible — the hormones can be so intense when you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, etc. sending you the biggest hug, lauren. you WILL feel better again.

    • Annapoorni says...

      I am in the process of weaning by beautiful baby girl . I feel so low that sometimes it’s extremely hard for me to get out of bed. I feel sad that the elixir of life is going to not of use anymore and I might not be so needed by my baby . I often console myself by thinking that it’s best in the interest of the baby s well being . I feel no connection with anything around me. Hope I get better soon

    • Carter says...

      Hi there!

      How are you doing now? I hope the clouds have cleared for you…

      I’ve done extended breastfeeding (my son is now 38 months) and we are down to 1 feeding per day, after previously doing 2 feedings a day for the past year. I’m planning on stopping soon, and I researched what to expect, and everything listed is what I’ve been experiencing for a while. (Severe anxiety, insomnia, moderate depression.) I never considered the fact that dropping the feeds down to 1 constituted weaning, and therefore ushered in the major emotional problems, but I guess it could? Just wondering if things will get better quickly because I’ve already been through the worst, or if I’m in for two months of something even more intense.

      My son was born at 26 weeks, and I thought my blues and anxiety were solely related to PTSD and the grief about not being able to have other children, but it’d be sooooo nice to discover that the hormones are a huge part of it.

      And Joanna, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! I’m a regular reader and was so thrilled to see one of your posts come up when I was researching this issue. Your willingness to share the hard stuff is truly changing lives!

  19. Melissa says...

    I’m going through this right now and it makes so much sense, thank you! I could t figure out why I feel so down the past week or so, I’ve just finished weaning. It is so emotional, I feel as if I’m losing an important part of the beautiful bond that I have with my son. This made me feel better, as much as I can right now anyway! Hopefully my hormones even out sooner glad that you felt back to normal again after that rough patch!

    • Nadia says...

      I went through exactly the same thing. I was in denial to think this can be a thing. I mean this was my second pregnancy. I had postpartum depression with my first born and used eglynol and it help. But the second time I naturally felt pregnant with twins. I breastfed them for 11 months and weaned them. But I stopped the eglynol within a week after. 3 weeks after weaning I finished my prescription of Microlval which is a mini pil safe to use while breastfeeding. And then 2 days after I went to get the Mirena. Never did I thought it all could have such huge impact. A month ago I went to see my doctor as I finally started talking about my symptoms. And he put me on Lexamil. I started exercising and dieting too as I felt I need to bounce back because I want to feel better about myself. Some moms makes it look so easy. But realized that it is not so easy. Now I’m slowly but surely starting to feel better. Never knew hormones can control so much of how you feel. Loved to read your post and to know I’m not the only one. Regards

  20. I am so grateful for this post! I remembered reading it when it was originally published, and this morning I went back to find it and read it again, and everything just clicked. I’ve been struggling with crippling anxiety and sadness, feeling overwhelmed (I have a full time job, I help my husband run his business, and I take grad school classes at night), and I’ve been weaning my eight month old son. I have been experiencing episodes of lightheadedness and racing heartbeats, along with a lot of misplaced anger and tears… Just feeling like a total failure. I sought out a therapist who suggested I take Zoloft, but I’m hesitant. Anyway the breastfeeding/hormones connection makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing your story, Joanna. XOXO

    • Katie McNeill says...

      I started taking Zoloft a 3-4 weeks ago and within one week I felt a significant improvement. It’s the day time I’ve taken an SSRI, and I’m really grateful for how it’s helped me.

    • Aimee says...

      If I could go back and tell myself 8 yrs ago I would tell myself to not rake the zoloft. I recently weaned night time feedings to baby #5 who is 12 months old, and I recently stopped taking the zoloft after weaning for 5 months . I know all the feelings you are having . I’m so sorry u too are experiencing this. This article just helped me connect the weaning to my depression so much.

  21. Kristen says...

    Thank you for writing this. I’m going through this and most people don’t understand. Most people ask me if I am thankful for the extra sleep since I stopped breastfeeding. I smile and nod. But truthfully I feel worse than when I was breastfeeding. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • Elvira Cuccurullo says...

      I do exactly the same as everyone is like “c’mon now you should feel better as you are sleeping much more ” instead I feel so down, crying, and just disconnected form.the world,is a very strange feeling its like I am getting crazy. Sometimes I feel better but A week before the period It all hit me again. I have stopped breastfeeding 3 months ago so probably my hormones are still imbalanced

  22. Laura says...

    Thank you so much for these words. I am going through this exact thing and your article is saved as a favorite so I can reread this at the very dark times and remind myself this won’t last forever. This is not me.
    I weaned my 10 month old at the beginning of October and for the the last 3-4 weeks have been overcome with crippling anxiety, especially in the mornings. I’ve reached out to my doctor and have started a medication as well as therapy but have not noted significant improvement yet. Every day is struggle. My body feels weak, exhausted, heavy. I almost feel like there is something physically wrong although I’ve had blood work and testing done over the last few weeks that have come back normal.
    I am prone to anxiety, but never anything to this level. I am praying feverently for the morning I wake up from this cloud.
    My husband and family are incredibly supportive, but sometimes I wonder how long they can deal with me like this.
    Your words are hope for me. Thank you for bringing light to this issue.

    • Steph says...

      Hi Laura x
      I’ve been through the exact same thing recently (for the second time) just wanted you to know that you will get through this and even though you are wondering how long your family can deal with you like this let me tell you, they will be there for you for as long as it takes – you are everything to them even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
      I felt like the same, like I had the flu, heavy and unable to move at times. That’s the depression. Your hormones are out of whack and need to readjust – do you have a health store near by? Consider talking to a consultant for something to help your hormones become more in-sync. Some herbals really do work, I’ve had anxiety my whole life and I’ve finally found the cause – my hormones. The cloud will lift, I struggled for 8 months but got there in the end, wishing you all the best xo

    • Courtenay Estes says...

      Hey Laura – I know exactly what you are going through and have been there. I just want you to know it gets better. Also, a lot of the times doctors will say it’s anxiety or it’s in your head and that isn’t the case. For me, it turns out these symptoms WERE something physically wrong and I ended up having an autoimmune disorder, most likely exacerbated by having a baby. My blood work would come back normal too with “regular” physicians and I just knew in my heart this was more than anxiety. I saw specialists and integrative doctors and even a geneticist and they finally helped me uncover my real issues. If you feel in your gut you have something wrong, keep looking for answers. You can reach out to me if you have any questions; I wish I had someone back when I was going through this hell. CourtenayNBowers at gmail.com

    • Haley says...

      I am also going through crippling anxiety. I feel physically sick. Can’t eat. Horrible depression. It all started when I started cutting out feedings and now just weaned off completely. Panic attacks constantly, heart racing, nausea, etc. I hope it gets better.

  23. Julie says...

    I don’t recognize myself. My body is weaning my third and last daughter (not my choice) and I find myself lashing out at my family, even scaring my precious four- and six-year-olds. I overhear them tell their dad, “Mommy is so mean to me… You and mommy fight all the time… She hurts my feelings…” This isn’t me. I’m not this angry, desperately sad waif. I feel like a shadow of myself. I see friends and I feel jealous of what they can accomplish but simultaneously annoyed with how stupid and selfish everyone sounds. Don’t they see I’m not speaking? Can’t they tell I’m so sad? Are these even my friends? I want to scream at them, tell them what they do that annoys me and point out their stupidity and selfishness. And then the paranoia sets in. Every comment in my direction feels like an attack. And I’m so scared they’re all going to see that I’m a failure. What if they come inside and see that my house is disorganized and my kids are watching tv? My precious housekeeper goes on maternity leave next week. She only comes three hours a week but I’m dreading her absence. How am I going to clean my house, disinfect bathrooms, sweep and mop floors, vacuum the rugs and carpet and furniture, dust the fans and lights, wash windows and mirrors and still have time to prepare healthy meals three times a day for four people and be on time with carpool three times a day and have clothing cleaned and put away and take care of the needs of the baby while making sure the materials in our home aren’t causing cancer and that we’re not being wasteful and that they’re eating the rainbow and when will I find time and energy to start on those four work projects that I committed to before my world came crashing down literally two days ago? No, really, HOW? And if I try to find shortcuts, the world is telling me that this laundry detergent will kill my children, and lighting that candle is the same as exposing my family to second-hand smoke, and that pre-marinated chicken breast wasn’t raised in a pasture so not only am I being cruel to the chicken but I’m encouraging the cruelty with my financial investment, and oops, I’m not even plant based because I live in a small town where I don’t have access to a farmer’s market and I can’t just go buy a healthy prepared meal. So here I sit while sleep eludes me. And I know there are moms who can’t feed their babies or protect them so how silly is it that I’m even feeling overwhelmed? It is silly. But I’m still overwhelmed. I have no answers and there’s truly no point to this rant. But I get to send it off into cyberspace and remain semi-anonymous. And somehow that helps. Joanna thank you for this article and the space to be devastatingly truthful with strangers when my family can’t understand me. This has been harder than any pregnancy or postpartum hormonal shift. Maybe because she’s my last? There’s no way to define this or define me. I have faith it’ll get better and I’ll try to remember that when it seems that hope is weaning along with my baby.

    • Anonymous says...

      Hi Julie, what you’re going through sounds so, so hard. As Joanna would say, take gentle care of yourself. Please think about confiding in your husband, friends and doctor for practical and emotional support. You seem like a thoughtful and smart woman and a caring mum who has a lot on her plate, and they’ll want to help you. Good luck xx

  24. Erica says...

    I moved to Boston at the beginning of January from San Diego to start nursing school. I went from 75 degrees and sunny to 6 degrees and snow with one cross country flight. My boyfriend and I are from CA and were living in Oakland when he was accepted to Harvard for a masters in architecture, and so I applied to nursing schools in Boston, and here we are. Besides my boyfriend, when I moved here I didn’t know a soul. I was starting school as a full time student after being out of school for 6 years. It was such a big transition so it made sense to me when I would sometimes feel down and sad. I thought that I was prepared for the change. I had all the right warm clothes, I forced myself to go on jogs if it was 20 deg or higher because exercise is something I know keeps me feeling balanced, I was doing well in school. I would rationalize my feelings of sadness with thoughts like, I just miss my friends, school is just difficult, my boyfriend isn’t around enough. I would get mad at my boyfriend– why did we have to move here? I could have gone to nursing school anywhere, but because he got into Harvard, we moved out here, and now I don’t know anyone and I barely even see him because he works such long hours. I would go to bed crying often, but he didn’t know that because he would come home after I was asleep. I would lash out at him in anger about benign things, and then feel awful about it later. We’ve been together for over 5 years, and already been through so much, but for the first time I was questioning whether we would make it. I didn’t realize how sad I really was until the end of April when we finally had our first truly sunny day. I laid down outside of the library for hours soaking up the sun (when I should have been studying for finals) and for the whole rest of the afternoon and evening I felt ELATED. I felt like I was walking on clouds. I felt like singing and dancing down the street. And it hit me so hard, “oh my god, I’ve been so sad for so long, and it was not normal. I think I was depressed.” Just like you described, I would have moments where a thought would creep into my head and say, “is this depression?” but I would brush it off and think, no this is just a tough time in your life and you just aren’t handling it well. It is so obvious to me now that I was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but when I was in it, I didn’t know it. I’ve read many posts here where you describe what it feels like to be depressed, that it feels like a fog, or a heavy pressure, and that is what it felt like, but I just didn’t have any perspective on it until I came out of it. Now that it’s November, and the leaves are falling off the trees, I am worried about the approaching winter. But I plan to equip myself with tools to help. Thankfully we’ve moved to a different apartment with huge windows that get a ton of light. I plan to do some winter sports, and I’m going to try and escape down south or west or just anywhere warm a few times to give myself a break. And I think I’ll be able to recognize my feelings better instead of trying to brush them off. Thank you for talking about this, because it really did help me recognize that I wasn’t just being a baby, or being lame, but I was actually going through something real. I love this blog so much, I read it every day and I’ve shared countless posts with friends. We just started our maternity clinical rotation so I’ve gone back through the archives and read all the pregnancy and birth posts and shared them with my friends in school. When a friend of mine had a miscarriage last year I printed out the post you did with all the women who wrote about their miscarriage and gave it to her along with her favorite candy, and she thanked me with tears in her eyes after she had read them. Thank you for bringing to light tough topics and situations. Your posts along with all the reader comments I know help so many of us feel less alone.

  25. Sofy says...

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am going through the exact same feelings you describe right now (down to the details!), feeling completely sad and down all the time, and completely inadequate in home and work life. I weaned 2 months ago and these have indeed been very hard months emotionally. I hope that I will wake up someday soon and feel better like you describe. But reading that I am not the only one is already making me feel better…

  26. Elizabeth says...

    Thank you for this. I am struggling right now with my slowly-weaning 14-month-old daughter. I had a scary anxiety attack yesterday morning and didn’t understand what was happening, but once I calmed down I realized that my cycle and weaning were clearly at play. Reading this old post was a lifeline.

  27. Hey Joanna,
    first of all, i would like to say, “You have a wonderful family and the cutest baby”. Next thing, I feel related to your story. I know how it feels when you go through the depression phase. Everything around you feels like nothing. But thanks to my family and friends, I got a chance to come out of this phase. Now whenever i think of that time when everything felt so wrong and meaningless, I feel bad for all that time. so I decided to write a post about postpartum depression and its management just to create awareness and also to help other moms like me.
    Many thanks.

  28. Farah says...

    Thank you so much for your article. Tonight is the first night of weaning. I cried my eyes out. I have been getting mastitis, my baby boy is 17 months old . I’m very attached to him because I had him after his older brother was born sleeping and went to heaven at 39 weeks gastrointestinal age. The mastitis isn’t going away this time I’m on my 6th day of antibiotics and it hurts so much when he nurses, so I decided to wean him off since I’m hurting either way. Your article made so much sense , I even sent it to my husband to prepare him for what’s coming up . Thank you so much . I always say there’s so many resources and help on how to start but you barley get help and support on how to stop.

  29. Kim says...

    Thank you for your article, I’m actually going through this right now. Weaned my 19mo baby a week ago and suddenly out of no where I felt like I was having an anxiety attack.

  30. Laura says...

    Hello. Thank you for this post! I’m in the process of weaning my 13-month old. We’ve done it very gradually and until now it’s gone seamlessly. However, this week I started trying to wean DS off his last feeding, the one near bedtime, and it’s been terrible for both of us. He’s crying and fighting being put to bed, so I feel guilty about that. Although mentally and socially I’m ready to be done with breastfeeding, I could feel my mood plummeting after just two days in a way that reminds me of PMS – that irritability without a specific cause, that urge to cry over little things. My instincts are telling me this is all due to the hormone shift. Your post and some of the comments have me concerned that this could go on for quite a while, which frightens me. I’m contemplating trying to re-instate the evening feeding (it’s only been a few days, my evening supply might still be ok?). Would I just be putting off the inevitable? Am I likely to go through this even if we wait a few more weeks or a month? I don’t like the idea of putting it off until winter – I tend to get seasonal depression, and I wouldn’t want to face the double-whammy.

    Also, does anyone out there have experience with any herbal or other natural remedies to help with the readjustment? I read on another site that maca root might help. Or maybe DIM or other supplements designed to target PMS and/or menopause might be helpful?

    • Staph says...

      Hi Laura, I hope you are feeling a bit better… I have been taking ‘bio blends Cycle Essentials’ by Dr Libby I’m not sure if they post world wide but I can’t tell you the difference I have noticed in just a month… maybe you could look at the ingredients and ask a naturopath to help you source something. I don’t have anxiety for the first time in my life and my period just showed up with no PMS, bloating or sugar cravings. It helps to stimulate progesterone and I think I have been low in it my whole life. I hope this helps.. good luck to you xx

  31. amy haaz says...

    It’s pretty remarkable that SIX years after this was originally posted, the comments are still rolling in. My sister in law sent me the post recently and thank god for that, and for you Jo for writing it. With so much societal pressure to be experiencing ‘the most incredible time in my life’ it has been doubly hard to just get through the day as a new mother, with the added guilt of not being blissed out all the time. In hindsight, I have had postpartum depression/anxiety, and now reaching a new low as I’ve begun to wean, this makes me feel so much less alone. I still have to do the hard work but this has helped motivate me to get started. Thank you for that.

  32. Heather says...

    Very helpful, thank you. Just weaned my 4th baby and am at a pretty low low. Made an appt with my dr. this morning. Anyone consider medication? It’s been 2 months and I feel like I’m getting worse. Is medication a quick fix? I just want to be happy again. I feel like my kids never see my smile anymore.

    • Neeza says...

      Hi Heather,

      I had to consider medication but I waited about 2 months before I did. I realized I was getting worse and I couldn’t take care of my family. I was put on Cipralex. 10mg which is a very low dose. The average adult dose is 20mg. My doctor wanted to see how I did on 10mg and I did well. After 7 months I’m now down to 5mg. I tell myself I will know when I’m ready to totally cut down. I am doing better than ever now so know that it will pass but sometimes, we just need help and that’s ok. Take care.

    • Steph says...

      I’ve just been through a really hard time also, I wish I had taken medication but I also believe finding the root of the cause is vital. I’ve been taking a natural herbal that has eased my anxiety and helped my periods become regular again. What if some people suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain and others suffer from hormonal imbalance? Medication is good to take to get by but you have to find what is causing it in the first place for long-term health and emotional well-being. Hope this helps x

    • Katie says...

      Hi Heather, what you wrote sounds exactly like what I’m going through. A little over 2 months into weaning, sleeping poorly, high anxiety. Positive it’s hormone related. I’ve done every natural thing I can think of and now thinking of taking an SSRI. Chris y to know how your story came out.

  33. S. says...

    Joanna,
    Thank you so much for the article. I finished weaning my daughter about a month ago. I’ve had issues with depression in the past, but this seems far worse and like I different kind of depression. Maybe I am more susceptible to hormonal changes than some. Either way, I suspected my symtoms may be related to weaning, but found very little about it until this blog. I feel empty inside and like nothing can make me happy even though I have a wonderful family. My husband feels bad for me but I don’t think he understands or knows what to do. I eat well, exercise, work and have healthy sleep habits, but still feel this way no matter what. I sure hope that this is related to the weaning. I made an appointment with a psychotherapist group and plan to mention this to them. Hopefully I won’t be brushed off. If I do get through this, I will be sure to advocate for other nursing women by letting them know about this possibility.

  34. Emma says...

    This is me right now, weaning my beautiful boy and waiting for the woosh.

  35. Tina says...

    I have been suffering with this since March. I would get sick and unable to eat and oa ic attacks. It was not till the third incident we realized it was from the weaning. Here we are 5 months later and still weaning. Down to 2 feedings and the anxiety and irritability is still happening. Some days I feel good almost normal. I keep myself really busy because it does not allow me to dwell on the things I feel. I hate that I get so angry with my spouse and daughter who is 21 months. I feel like it is less but at times I worry if this is me now. What if the weaning does not change anything. I used to be able to sit home and relax and now if i am not busy i feel like i am going crazy. I hate it, it is exhausting. Tonight we drop one more night feeding and next week we drop bedtime. I just hope it happens quickly and I go back to normal. 5 months of this has been miserable. Being hopeful though

  36. Rochelle says...

    I had to sigh & almost cry reading this! I have been so emotional lately. I realize I have been since my baby has been born. My husband works nights & sleeps days. The 3 days he us off is a weird. Schedule of giving each other sleep (if we can), commuting my step daughter around(an hour each way), occasionally having my neighbors over for some socialization, cleaning/grocery shopping, & he fits in yard work often. I feel completely depleted. I have decided to stop breast feeding which is totally depressing me. I struggle because he is doing fantastic. My first baby also did awful & continued to have a horrible time on formula. I am scared to change over for fear his Tommy will hurt but I also will miss the connection/convenience of breast feeding. I tried weaning him this last week or so & I failed. I completely caved & talked myself back in to breast feeding, riddled with guilt & anxiety. My husband doesn’t understand what I am going through & is trying to be supportive but is not understanding why I am emotional. My anxiety hasn’t been a problem for a long time & is going bonkers now. This article made me feel not quite as lonely & afraid. I want to talk to my dr. But I know she might encourage me to keep on breast feeding. My family & I really need the time back breast feeding takes. I also the freedom to be able to leave my baby with others & our schedule isn’t too conducive for finding time to pump. Thanks for this article!!

  37. Charlene says...

    Thank you for sharing, I’ve been struggling with the same thing since early February about a month after weaning my son. I had nursed him for 20 months. It has been quite the roller coaster the last couple months, it was rough at first. There are still some bad days, but they are getting fewer. My doctor did explain the change in hormones and I spent time with a therapist.

  38. Nicole says...

    Thank you for writing this, Johanna. I read it when posted (a few weeks ago?), but had to reread as I am now weaning my son (13 months) and have been feeling super sad. I know it’s a combination of hormones and loss of my “baby,” but everything just feels so heavy right now. It helps immensely to read this, as well as all the comments, which makes me feel less alone.

  39. Tiffany Dobson says...

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! My 15 mos old daughter started weaning recently, we are only down a few feedings and out of nowhere depression hit me like a train. The feelings of worthlessness and loneliness are overwhelming. I cannont control the tears running down my face. In my moments of rationality I know that I am not worthless and I am so blessed. I have had bad pms mood swings but this is unreal and I am so relieved to know that I am not alone. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories!

  40. Gloria says...

    Thank you for this article. I have tears streaming down my face as I read it because I am in the depths of this experience. My son is 13 months old, I’ve tried to wean slowly, but my symptoms of depression and anxiety appeared as soon as I dropped a feeding. The feeling is so overwhelming that I will sometimes go to the nursing room at work and pretend to pump. Instead, I cry and think about how I can’t manage my job, will probably be fired, am a terrible mother, terrible wife and things will never get better. It’s a roller-coaster/grab-bag of paralyzing anxiety and deep hopelessness. I long for the day I just wake up and everything is better. I truly hope this happens and, in the meantime, deeply appreciate everyone’s stories.

    • Lizbeth says...

      I will happen i promise!! Things will get better, i know it doesnt seem like! The first 3 months are going to be the hardest but after that things will get better. I too had this happen on may 2017 when i weaned my 17m old son and as months go by you will feel better and start to feel yourself again, it will be a stronger you! I know how horrible the anxiety can be and the depression, seing others smiled and wishing you could too, but i will happen again, i found this blog last year, it was so helpfull since no one understood what was happening too me, not even my Dr ??‍♀️. Your not a bad mom or a wife its just the anxiety making you think that a long with the depression. Hang in there momma ❤️. You can do this!

    • Neeza says...

      Hi Gloria – I just returned to work 3 weeks ago as I had to take 4.5 months off due to this. It hit me hard – so hard – and I couldn’t function anymore. Through a great support system (DR, Therapist, Nutritionist, Women’s Group, Meds, etc.) I came out of it stronger than ever before. You will too. Make time for yourself and take all the support you can get. Meditate and read about the Female Brain to truly understand the realities and how this stuff can hit any woman in any walk of life. There’s a great book called ‘The Female Brain’ by Louanne Brizandine. We are all here to support you. Sending healing vibes.

  41. Nk says...

    Thank goodness for your article! I’ve been utterly miserable with anxiety and a bit of depression and couldn’t get my head around it. Started after i weaned a month back when my daughter was 11 months old. This was my second pregnancy and it’s been harder understanding these feelings cause first time around I didn’t get any of this. Felt so relieved when I read your article. Though I realised what I’ve been feeling is related to weaning, to read exactly what I’ve been feeling gave me a huge sense of relief and that I’m not alone. I literally felt every single thing you wrote and had all those thoughts. It’s been extremely hard but I’m happy to know that it’s going to go away. Thank you again!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sending so much love to you, nk! this will pass. you’re doing a great job just hanging in there. xoxo

  42. Nicole says...

    Thank you!! I’m experiencing the same thing but it’s happened as I began gradually weaning and have been going off and on with it… lots of anxiety and some depression… I really hope it’s related to the weaning-ish… I’m not my normal rosy self :(… I’m so thankful for your post and all the mamas who pull together to reach out, comfort and share their experiences!!! So much love

  43. Brooke says...

    My little Ezra is 6 weeks old, he spent his first 4 in the NICU. I exclusively pumped, and with the goal of getting him better. After that, it was whatever I could handle. He already has to have two formula feeds to gain weight, so when I decided to start weaning, we were already partway there. I’ve been decreasing number & duration of pumps since he came home 2 weeks ago, 3 days ago I stopped pumping. I felt free. I had a latte and yesterday I had a beer.
    Today Ezra had his last bottle with breast milk. And today I also fell apart. In the shower, it hit me like a 2 x 4. I apologized to my husband for being broken and making his life harder, I blamed myself for our 2 year old having a meltdown, I told him I was a failure. He called his mom to help and sent me to rest.
    After searching hormones after breastfeeding, your post is the first thing I’ve read on the topic. The nail has been hit on the head. I don’t fully believe it yet, but I think it gives me a little hope that this will get better. Thank you.

  44. Shantel Howell says...

    Thabks so much for your story. I really needed to hear this because I am currently going through this with my 12 month old, and I haven’t felt like myself since I started weaning. I’m going to seek help because of you. Thanks so Much!!!!

  45. Wow. I stumbled upon this after seeing your post mentioned in the huffington post. Literally every word is exactly how I’m feeling. My son was 8-9 months old when he just STOPPED breastfeeding. Since then I’ve gone in a spiral thinking and feeling everything you mentioned. Thank you for sharing and just reading that you found the light at the end makes me really hopeful. I know I’ll feel better and I’m happy to have a bit more clarity on this phase. Thank you for your honesty. I needed to read this.

  46. Karyn says...

    This post is everything! I weaned rather quickly as well, within a week. I started getting my cycles back before weaning but that is when I started to feel not right. So, I started to wean thinking that would make everything fall in place. Not so much. I’m two weeks post weaning and have been struggling with debilitating anxiety. Not that I want anyone to experience this, but I’m happy to know I’m not alone and the hormonal crash is probably to blame. Here’s to hoping this ends soon!

    • Andrea says...

      I too am going through this and have been researching this topic since around December when my cycle came back 6 months pp. I think my cycle came back because my pumping at work became irratic due to an overloaded schedule. I noticed anxiety symptoms started then and the only thing that made sense was my hormones being messed up from the fluctuating pumping.

      I began a gradual weaning process around February (sadly not my “choice” but because I was too overwhelmed at work and the hormones were too much). I finished weaning last week right before this month’s cycle starting and the anxiety has been elevated.

      I’m hoping it will level out over a couple months, but it is really hard to persevere at times. I have health anxiety from the symptoms (tight chest/back, light headed, feels like racing heart when it’s not, etc. and then feel overwhelmed and like I need to cry but don’t). These hormones are no joke and no one talks about this type of PPA/PPD. Thank you all for sharing your experiences…I’m finding more blogs talking about this but sadly not as much industry literature as you would hope.

      Good luck everyone, thank you again!