12 Facts You Didn’t Know About Postpartum Depression
Did you know that each year there are hundreds of thousands of women in the U.S. who experience postpartum depression? Perhaps that’s why postpartum depression (PPD), which is also known as postnatal depression, is getting a lot more attention these days.
And even though the name sounds self-explanatory, there’s so much more to it than that. In fact, a lot of people don’t really know what it is, including moms who are currently going through it.
Although I worked as a child therapist before becoming a stay-at-home mom, my knowledge about postpartum depression was somewhat limited.
I had the tools to diagnose and treat it. But there were some interesting facts I began to learn about postpartum depression once I actually experienced it for myself and did more research on it.
I want to share with you some important postpartum depression facts you may not already know about… Because no mother who could be going through postpartum depression should feel left in the dark.
12 Postpartum Depression Facts
1. Postpartum depression is quite common.
Research suggests that about 15% of new moms experience postpartum depression. But the rate is even higher for those with low socioeconomic statuses.
Plus, when you include women who experience PPD after a miscarriage (Yes, that can happen!), the rate grows even higher.
And imagine the number of women who have PPD but go unreported because they haven’t been thoroughly screened for it, are unaware they could have it, or have chosen not to report it.
2. Postpartum depression isn’t the same as the “baby blues.”
The baby blues is a normal period that most women go through in which they are adjusting to having a new baby. This period may consist of increased feelings of sadness and overwhelm and lasts a couple weeks after the birth of your baby.
On the other hand, postpartum depression can start or last beyond that time frame. PPD is more intense and can affect your functioning, including your ability to care for your baby.
3. Postpartum depression can start before you even give birth.
As moms start to undergo hormonal changes, develop fears about motherhood, or experience stressors during pregnancy, they can start to show symptoms of PPD. Even before they give birth.
So if you’re pregnant and think you’re having thoughts and feelings that aren’t normal, talk to your OB-GYN about it. This will help to at least keep you on their radar.
Think you might have PPD? Grab my free Postpartum Depression Toolkit below!
4. Women can experience PPD as late as 12 months after giving birth.
If you start experiencing PPD symptoms closer to a year out from childbirth, you’re not insane. And you’re not alone.
This was actually my own personal experience.
Sometimes stressors or changes that occur closer to a year out from the birth of your child can trigger PPD. Say, for instance, your spouse has to go away for a week or your mother gets a new job and can’t help you out as much.
The biggest challenge with experiencing PPD symptoms later on for me was that it made it more difficult for my husband to understand what I was going through. He didn’t think that PPD could start or last that long, so he was pretty skeptical about it all.
It’s also good to know that there’s a chance that you won’t be screened for PPD that late into the game… At least not until more health care providers start screening at various points throughout the period in which women are susceptible to PPD.
5. A personal history of depression or anxiety can increase your chances of PPD.
Yup. If you experienced depression or anxiety in the past, you could be at a greater risk for PPD. Therefore, it might be a good idea to bring this up to your OB-GYN when you’re pregnant so that they can monitor you.
Other risk factors for PPD include a family history of related mental illness, relationship problems, an infant who is difficult to care for, hormonal changes, and significant life stressors (such as illness, the loss of a loved one, or financial stressors).
6. You can’t assume your doctor will screen you for postpartum depression.
Screening for PPD has gotten better in recent years, but PPD remains to be highly under-diagnosed.
Perhaps that’s partly because there’s still debate among health care providers about whether they should screen for PPD.
I know that I haven’t been screened for PPD yet during this pregnancy, and I’m currently in my second trimester.
And with my first child, I was screened for PPD once, not even by my own doctor. It came from my child’s pediatrician a few weeks after I gave birth. And at that point, I hadn’t really started experiencing PPD yet.
So it may be a good idea to ask for a screening if you’re wondering whether you could be at risk.
Even if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to seek treatment (due to costs or other reasons), knowing that you have PPD can help with normalizing your feelings and accepting PPD. And this will help you to seek support, whether it be through reading online, asking family/friends for help, or attending a support group.
7. Every woman’s postpartum depression symptoms and experiences are different.
There’s a long list of possible symptoms that women can experience when they have PPD.
Some of these symptoms include feeling sad or worthless, having trouble bonding with the baby, losing interest in things that were once enjoyable, withdrawing from others, difficulty concentrating, problems with sleeping and/or eating, and physical aches and pains. They may also include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
And each mom’s symptoms may differ. For instance, while many moms might not feel very confident in their ability to care for their child, you might not feel that way. Instead, your feelings might be more about struggling to get your husband on the same page as you.
And some women’s symptoms may consist more of anxiety versus depression, which brings me to my next point…
8. Postpartum depression doesn’t just consist of depression.
Women who give birth to a child don’t just necessarily experience depression. They can also experience intense irritability, postpartum anxiety or OCD, or postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum anxiety consists of excessive fear or worry, often in relation to the baby. It may be accompanied by anxiety symptoms like heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, and difficulty sleeping or eating. Many women also experience postpartum panic attacks.
Women with postpartum OCD might have obsessive/intrusive thoughts in relation to something bad happening to their babies. And they might have compulsions, or the need to complete certain actions or rituals repeatedly in order to protect their babies.
A few women experience postpartum psychosis, which can consist of experiencing delusions or hallucinations. Note that this is a very rare but serious diagnosis and that you should be treated immediately if you experience it.
9. Postpartum depression doesn’t just affect you.
So you may already know this one. But yup… Postpartum depression can have a huge effect on your baby.
In fact, studies have shown that PPD can hinder your child’s ability to manage stress and regulate emotions. And babies whose mothers have PPD often tend to cry more and have less social engagement.
Even if you feel as though you’re keeping yourself together in front of your child, the smallest of interactions can affect your baby. So it’s very important to seek support for PPD.
Furthermore, newer studies are showing that men can also be affected by PPD. Many dads experience PPD themselves after the birth of their child. And even dads who don’t get PPD can be affected by the stress of having a partner with PPD.
10. Postpartum depression might not pass on its own.
When you don’t receive treatment for PPD, it can last for months or even years longer. And this could lead to physical, behavioral, and emotional problems for your child.
So it’s very important that you seek treatment and support to help you learn how to cope with postpartum depression earlier rather than later.
11. Counseling isn’t the only way to treat postpartum depression.
PPD is completely treatable. And if you’ve been diagnosed with PPD or think you have it but don’t want to see a therapist, there are other options.
One option is medication. Medication can target physical symptoms and chemical and hormonal unbalances. However, it cannot target the underlying thoughts and emotions that contribute to depression.
Another option is to seek out a postpartum depression support group in your area. A lot of the local support groups offered are free. You can find a list of support groups in each state here.
12. You may be able to afford postpartum depression treatment.
If you think you have PPD, you may want to look into different ways to cut the cost of treatment before you assume that you can’t afford it.
Some health insurances cover mental health treatment and/or services related to postpartum depression. And sometimes your school or employer will offer mental health services or health reimbursement plans.
Also, by doing a little research online, you might be able to find deals through local practices, clinics, or colleges.
Finally, group therapy or online therapy is often cheaper than individual/ in-person therapy.
What To Do with These Postpartum Depression Facts…
It’s important to understand what PPD is and that you’re not alone in your experiences.
Postpartum depression is treatable. So be sure to seek some form of treatment so that your symptoms don’t get worse over time and have an even bigger impact on your child.
P.S. If you’ve been having dangerous intrusive thoughts or thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, you should seek help immediately. You can do so by calling 911. There’s also a 24-hour toll-free suicide hotline, which you can call at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist before I became a stay-at-home mom, I am not your therapist. Reading this content does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline, not a diagnosis or treatment recommendation. It has not been individually tailored to your needs. Therefore, I am not liable for any losses or damages due to actions or failure to act in relation to this content. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor.
Lieber, A. (2018). Postpartum depression (PPD): A guide to common depression after childbirth. Psycom. Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.post-partum.html.
The National Institute of Mental Health (n.d.). Postpartum Depression Facts. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml
Nauert, R. (2009). Postpartum depression’s effect on the baby. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/08/21/postpartum-depressions-effect-on-the-baby/7899.html.
Postpartum Progress (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about postpartum depression and related illnesses. Retrieved from http://www.postpartumprogress.com/frequently-asked-questions-on-postpartum-depression-related-illnesses.
Rosen, M. D. (n.d.). Sad dads: Science says men suffer from postpartum depression, too. Parents. Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/parenting/dads/sad-dads/.
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