What is Postpartum Depression?
Many new moms experience the “baby blues” after giving birth, but it’s when feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or exhaustion get in the way of daily functioning and parenting that it may be postpartum depression. The condition, which is more common than you think, can also emerge during pregnancy, which is known as antepartum depression. Depression isn’t the only mental health condition that can affect women (and sometimes men) during pregnancy or after birth. Perinatal (meaning around birth) mental health disorders include a range of conditions, such as Antepartum (during pregnancy) or Postpartum Depression, Perinatal Anxiety, Perinatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Birth Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Perinatal Bipolar Disorder, and Perinatal Psychosis or Schizophrenia. See below for a list of symptoms associated with postpartum depression.
How Common Is It?
Estimates vary widely, but about 25% of women may experience depression or another perinatal mental health disorder within the first year of giving birth. The first year of a baby’s life is the time when women are more likely to develop depression than any other stage of life. Experts suggest that perinatal mental health conditions are often underrecognized and undertreated, so the numbers may be even higher. Less than half (about 40%) of mothers who are experiencing perinatal or postpartum symptoms seek help.
Women aren’t the only ones who suffer. Research shows that 10% of new fathers show signs of paternal postpartum depression. That number jumps to 26% during the first 3-6 months of baby’s arrival, and it’s even higher for fathers when their partner is experiencing perinatal mental health problems.
What is the Cause?
There is not one single cause of these conditions, and there are numerous risk factors. Dramatic hormonal changes during pregnancy and after birth may contribute to mental health problems. In addition, financial stresses, troubled relationships, and lack of support may play a role. Having a history of mental illness or a family history of such conditions makes you more vulnerable to problems during pregnancy and after birth.
What are the Consequences?
Postpartum depression can have adverse effects on your child, including developmental delays. It also negatively impacts your child’s cognitive skills, emotional stability, and ability to handle stress later in life. Postpartum depression and perinatal mental health conditions also raise an infant’s risk of depression and anxiety later in life.
Sadly, postpartum depression also increases the risk of maternal suicide. One study showed that suicide accounted for 1 of every 19 deaths in women during pregnancy or postpartum. This grim statistic along with the potential long-term impacts on children show why it is so important to seek treatment for symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders.
When left untreated, postpartum depression and other perinatal mental health conditions can interfere with all-important bonding with your infant.
Lack of emotion towards their baby
Not taking their baby to preventive healthy checkups
Not using infant car safety seats
Not baby-proof their homes (using safety latches and electrical outlet covers)
Lack of ability to connect with their baby, such as playing, reading, singing, touching or smiling.
TAL CMHC offers beneficial services that encourage insight, self-reflection, and healthy coping mechanisms. Our therapists reinforce positive emotions, placing emphasis on positive behaviors and the connection these behaviors have with feelings.