What You Should Know About Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) isn’t just the “baby blues.” It’s a serious condition that affects between 11 and 20 percent of mothers in the United States and can interfere with a woman’s ability to connect with and care for her child. Alarmingly, up to 70 percent of women suffering from symptoms of PPD do not seek professional help. This means that hundreds of thousands of children are at risk for cognitive and emotional deficits related to difficulties in mother-child bonding.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Overwhelming sadness
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Feeling numb or disconnected
Women affected by PPD may feel as if they are unfit for motherhood. They sometimes fear that they will cause harm to their babies and have thoughts of running away or hurting themselves. In extreme cases, in what is known as postpartum psychosis, women can experience paranoia, delusions or auditory hallucinations. Postpartum psychosis affects only 1 out of 1,000 women.
When does it occur?
Postpartum Depression generally occurs in the weeks following childbirth, but symptoms can develop at any time in the first year after a baby is born. A significant number of women experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy, a condition which is known as antenatal depression.
Who is affected?
PPD does not discriminate based upon race, class or ethnicity. As stated above, it affects between 11 and 20 percent of all mothers in the U.S. About half of women with PPD have serious symptoms. Mothers sometimes overlook their depressions because symptoms like insomnia and moodiness can also occur in women who are not depressed.
Women who have previously suffered from depression, anxiety or other mental disorders are more likely to experience PPD. It should also be noted that women may experience PPD concurrently with anxiety, bipolar disorder or other mental disorders.
How is it treated?
Postpartum depression is usually treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapy helps mothers place the difficult feelings they’re experiencing into proper context. In terms of medication, a psychiatrist may prescribe an antidepressant for PPD. Since some antidepressants are not recommended during breastfeeding, it’s important that women talk to their doctors to weigh the risks and benefits.
Along with professional help, women can also seek support in online health forums. Consumer health website Treato.com recently published a list of online “safe spaces” for women with PPD. These are websites where women can connect with others who can relate to their experiences and offer advice. Check out the list here.
Both mother and child suffer when postpartum depression goes untreated. Share this article with someone who may need it.
What about you? Have you or someone you loved suffered from Postpartum Depression? Let us know in the comments if you are comfortable sharing your experience.
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by David Noble, Health and Wellness Editor at Treato.com.