Postpartum rage is intense anger that could be directed at yourself or others, including your baby. It won’t last forever, and there are ways to cope.

Having a baby and transitioning to parenthood is challenging. Hormones, lack of sleep, and learning to take care of a baby can make the experience an emotional roller coaster. You may experience every emotion — from joy to sadness and even rage.

Rage is the most extreme expression of anger and can happen in outbursts of emotion that are difficult to control. Postpartum rage, while not a postpartum mood disorder itself, can occur with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.

If you’re experiencing this intense anger after having a baby, don’t worry. It won’t last forever, and you have no reason to be embarrassed about your feelings. There are steps you can take to feel more like yourself again.

Yes, postpartum aggression is a thing, but it’s not well understood or studied. A 2018 study found that postpartum anger can coexist with postpartum depression. This anger can be directed at yourself or others, including your baby.

Differences between hormones after birth and postpartum anger

Hormone fluctuations may play a role in mood changes, including postpartum rage.

About 85% of people will experience postpartum blues, often referred to as “baby blues.” When you experience baby blues, you may find yourself irritable and going through changes in mood for reasons you can’t explain. You may also experience irritability if you have depression.

A 2019 study also showed that several hormones, including estradiol, progesterone, oxytocin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones, play a role in postpartum syndromes like postpartum depression.

Evidence suggests that postpartum anger can exist alongside postpartum depression, but the exact relationship is still unclear.

This evidence could indicate hormones influence both postpartum mood disorders and postpartum emotions like anger or rage.

How does it relate to postpartum mood disorders?

Postpartum aggression may make up part of postpartum mood disorders, like postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. But the expression of anger or rage following the birth of a child doesn’t have its own diagnosis.

This can make it particularly frustrating or scary when you or someone you love is looking for answers about what’s going on with their emotions and mood.

If you’re experiencing postpartum anger, societal conventions about a blissfully happy postpartum period can add to the frustration. If your feelings deviate from these conventions, you may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or judged.

Conventions and stigma can make it more difficult to talk about postpartum depression, which affects at least 1 in 7 people who have just given birth.

And it may make it harder to talk about postpartum anger because people may not understand how someone can feel anger toward their baby.

Still, researchers have started to look at how postpartum anger relates to postpartum mood disorders. In a 2018 study, researchers noted that while it’s not well understood, anger did often accompany postpartum depression.

Another recent study looked to find out how postpartum anger and sleep quality related to each other. In more than 200 people observed, researchers noted that a person’s sleep quality and anger about their infant’s sleep quality were associated with their general anger level.

They believed that increasing awareness among new parents about sleep pattern changes might help with reducing anger during the postpartum period.

You can’t receive a diagnosis of postpartum rage because the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) doesn’t officially recognize it as a condition.

But this doesn’t mean postpartum rage doesn’t exist.

Evidence suggests that postpartum rage may be related to or result from postpartum depression or changes in sleep routines and patterns. Doctors can typically diagnose postpartum depression 2 to 6 months after the birth of a baby.

Doctors typically use a screening exam that scores a mother’s responses to make a diagnosis. Though the tests may differ, a score greater than 13 generally indicates additional testing or assessment may be needed.

Still, living with postpartum depression doesn’t mean you’ll experience postpartum rage. Also, you could experience rage without developing postpartum depression.

Because postpartum rage is not a diagnosis, no official treatment recommendations exist. But you can work with a doctor or healthcare professional on strategies that may help you based on suspected causes.

If you’re living with postpartum depression or anxiety along with anger or rage, treating the underlying condition may help. Some evidence suggests restoring hormone balance may help. Other ways to cope with postpartum depression can include:

If outside factors prompt your anger, such as sleep deprivation, learning more about what to expect might help. You may find working with your partner, such as taking shifts caring for the baby, helpful.

If you find yourself feeling intensely angry, you’re not alone. You can take some steps to cope with postpartum rage. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Calm your emotions

When you feel rage building, try to find ways to calm your temper. You may find the following helpful:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • repeating a calming word or mantra
  • doing gentle exercises like yoga or going for a walk

Express yourself

Try to find ways to communicate your feelings. For example, unresolved anger can cause problems and may lead a person to act out in a passive-aggressive way.

Productive and effective communication of your emotions with your partner, a friend, or someone you trust is key. This way, you can figure out together the root of your anger and take steps to remedy the situation and meet your needs.

Give yourself grace

Anger is a natural emotion, and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. Experiencing an emotion doesn’t make you a “bad” person or parent. If you let go of arbitrary notions of parenthood, it may be easier to navigate new parenthood.

Seek support

You may not know where to turn for help, or you might feel embarrassed. But there are resources available. Psych Central’s postpartum depression quiz can offer you some direction. Also, these organizations offer support in the form of groups and hotlines:

  • Postpartum Support International (PSI). PSI offers online support groups for people going through postpartum mood disorders.
  • Mom Support Group. This group offers a free peer-to-peer Zoom call with moderators to help guide discussions.
  • Motherhood Understood. It offers an online community geared toward helping all mothers experiencing mood changes.

Talk with a doctor

An OB-GYN or family physician may be a good source for diagnosing postpartum depression. They may also be able to connect you with mental health professionals who can provide therapy or recommend medications.

Postpartum rage may be more common than believed.

Though it’s not an officially recognized mental health condition, research shows it’s linked to postpartum depression, hormones, and sleep deprivation.

If you’re experiencing postpartum rage, you’re not alone. The feelings will pass, and there are ways to cope.

Treatment may involve treating the underlying depression, working with a therapist, taking medication, or using support groups.

If you’re looking for a therapist but unsure where to start, Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.