Because Piedmont Women’s Center (PWC) deals mainly with pregnancy versus post-birth, we do not see a lot of postpartum depression in our clinics. However, this is something that affects many women, and it can be very serious. It is important for expectant parents and new parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of postpartum struggles so that adequate help can be given.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three tiers on the postpartum continuum. The first category is “postpartum baby blues,” which begins as early as twenty-four hours after childbirth and can last up to two weeks. This can include mood swings, crying, trouble sleeping, and anxious thoughts. It is believed that as many as eighty percent of new moms will experience this to some degree.
The next tier is postpartum depression. This is more severe and can begin up to six months after childbirth, lasting for possibly many months. Women who struggle with this type of depression are often impeded in their ability to complete daily tasks. The symptoms are similar to postpartum baby blues, but intensified. Other symptoms include difficulty bonding with the child, lack of interest in activities, and possibly even suicidal thoughts. According to Suicide.org, as many as fifteen percent of women can develop postpartum depression after delivery.
A woman can also experience postpartum psychosis, the most extreme tier on this continuum. This usually develops within a week after delivery and can become increasingly worse as time goes on. Women with postpartum psychosis are in danger of harming themselves and/or their baby. They may become confused and suffer from hallucinations. As many as one in one thousand women will experience this form of psychosis.
Usually postpartum issues are due to physical bodily changes, such as hormone production or the emotional changes that come with the life change of raising a baby. Those that have a history of mental illness, a traumatic delivery, or even lacking in a strong support system could potentially be at a higher risk for developing postpartum depression.
Postpartum struggles affect the whole family. Interestingly enough, the Mayo Clinic suggests that dads are at a higher risk of depression after childbirth, and that could be exacerbated by postpartum issues in the mother. Children can also suffer. Many researchers argue that moms with postpartum depression or anxiety tend to have children with more ADHD struggles, along with other behavioral issues.
The CDC notes that it is also proven that moms who suffer miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss face similar struggles. We also know that abortion can cause post-abortion distress, which has some overlapping symptoms of postpartum depression.
Many people do not like to talk about postpartum depression because the stigma of shame is associated with this struggle. Women do not often report their symptoms because they fear being labeled a bad mom. When families do not get the help they need, lives are at risk. Left untreated, moms could be in danger of harming themselves and/or their children.
At PWC, we believe that every mom matters. We want families to feel empowered and strong as they raise their children. There is no shame in having a hard time and asking for help. Having the courage to talk to someone is extremely brave and freeing. We view that as being an example of a wonderful mom! Shame often keeps us in bondage, but there is freedom in reaching out!
Caruso, K. Postpartum depression and suicide – suicide.Org. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from Suicide.org, http://www.suicide.org/postpartum-depression-and-suicide.html
Mayo Clinic. (2015, August 11). Postpartum depression complications. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/complications/con-20029130
Canadian Paediatric Society (2004). Maternal depression and child development. Pediatrics & Child Health, 9(8), Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724169/
CDC. (2016, August 18). Depression among women. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/