Today we’d like to take a moment to talk about a serious, but treatable, condition: Postpartum Depression. It is a mental health problem that affects an estimated 9-16 percent of new mothers1.
So what is it exactly? Well, postpartum depression is a type of depression that occurs after a woman gives birth. It is thought to be caused by all of the significant shifts in hormones. Particularly (new research has begun to show) by a type of estrogen called estradiol2. Not to mention that of course while the body is going through these changes, the person themselves is dealing with things such as an entirely new family dynamic.
More common than postpartum depression is what we call ‘baby blues’. It is experienced by roughly 50% of new mothers2. For the first couple weeks after giving birth, new mothers can just feel kind of out of it and not quite like themselves. So it can be kind of hard to tell if it’s just ‘baby blues’ or depression. Baby blues, however, tend to be very limited and does go away on its own relatively soon and quickly. When it gets more intense, and goes on for a longer period, it becomes a serious form of depression. Postpartum depression can come with a loss in interests; affect your ability to function, lead to sleep disturbance and withdrawal. It is an especially big problem because it comes at a time when all of a sudden you are supposed to be caring for a new life.
It also can really have an impact on your family. A child whose mother has postpartum depression can withdraw, have development issues, and are at a higher risk to develop anxiety disorders and depression of their own. Postpartum depression can also affect the father. After all, he is also dealing with the same family and marital changes1 and not having the mother at 100% makes it all the more difficult.
Part of what makes postpartum depression so heartbreaking is knowing how much the new mom is missing out on. The depression takes them away from enjoying their newborns first days and weeks. Not fully being able to experience having a new addition to their family. So if you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression, please contact our practice. Symptoms of postpartum can be alleviated through psychotherapy.
1 Postpartum Depression Retrieved March 28, 2012 from American Psychological Association. Website: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/depression/postpartum.aspx
2 Groundbreaking Research into Postpartum Depression Retrieved March 28, 2012 from National Institute of Mental Health. Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/media/video/postpartum-depression.shtml