What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is the number one complication of childbirth. PPD is part of the spectrum of perinatal emotional complications – the range of emotions, symptoms, and mental health issues that can affect mothers and families around a birth experience. Perinatal emotional complications can be temporary and treatable.
Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth (10% during pregnancy); percentages are even higher for women living in poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. Women of color are at risk of more maternal health concerns than white women. For any woman, perinatal mental health complications is the number one risk associated with childbirth.
Who is at risk?
PPD can affect anyone who is pregnant, has experienced a pregnancy loss or has recently had a baby. Each woman experiences a unique situation and symptoms. Potential factors include: a history of depression or anxiety, inadequate supports, financial insecurity, relationship stress, parenting multiples, becoming a parent of adopted children, having an infant in Neonatal Intensive Care, going through infertility treatments, and mothers who experience complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
What might you be experiencing?
Perinatal mood complications present in a number of ways. Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone, and might include: feelings of anxiety or irritability, lack of interest in the baby, sadness, loss of appetite, frequent crying, trouble sleeping, low to no energy, or possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. You might look like you’re doing better than you feel – some people call postpartum depression “the smiling depression” because moms often try to put on a happy face even when they feel depressed.
Why get help?
You do not have to suffer this way. Trained professionals provide screening, evaluation, support, and tools to help parents manage pregnancy and postpartum complications. These conditions may negatively affect your family. The right help makes a difference for all. Appropriate care may include family support, home visits, therapy, medication safe for both a mother and her nursing child, and the information and education that will lead to a better experience around your baby’s arrival and early years.