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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

What is Postpartum Depression?

Updated: Apr 14, 2022



“I’ll never forget the day I felt cheated by motherhood. My eyes were met by a dawning sun after a sleepless night of tears, sore breasts, and a general feeling of listlessness and sorrow. Where was the happiness I was promised? Where were the smiles, the baby chortles and giggles, and the endless joy everyone said I would feel? Where was it? And why didn’t I feel this way?”


Does this feel like the opening chapter of a New York Times Best Seller, or perhaps the opening narration of a Lifetime movie? It’s not…. It’s the true story of many mothers all over the world during the first year after childbirth.


It’s the feelings of resentfulness and the bitter taste of a darkness that swells and drowns so many moms, but it is kept silent and locked away in the mourning center of their hearts. Perhaps, it’s your story.


Today, we're going to address a dark side of motherhood that plagues 1 out of every 7 women, and that's Perinatal Depression. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that every year, more than 400,000 infants are born to mothers who are depressed, making perinatal depression the most under diagnosed obstetric complication in America! Can you imagine that?! That's pretty significant.


Let's take this one step further.... Did you know that 1 in 10 new fathers also suffer from postpartum depression? That's 10% of new dads and 15% of new moms will struggle with Postpartum Depression. And, it gets worse!


Studies have revealed that when Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) go untreated, there are several risks and complications that can arise, including:


> Relationship problems

> Separation/divorce

> Child neglect/abuse

> Developmental delays/behavioral problems in the child

> Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use and abuse

> Infanticide, homicide, and suicide


That's not a pretty list, and one that you definitely want to avoid!


Who Experiences Postpartum Depression?


Women are at risk of developing Postpartum Depression (PPD) during pregnancy, and the risk remains in place until the baby is 1-year-old. Several factors that contribute to PPD include the hormonal surges and drops throughout pregnancy and after childbirth, and severe sleep deprivation.


Fathers also experience hormonal changes as a result of the baby being born, which helps in changing dad's behaviors to become more "fatherly." And, because many babies are bottle-fed, lots of dads are helping with nighttime feedings now, or, just helping mom when she has to get up and feed the baby. This, in turn, leads to sleep deprivation in dad too, placing him at risk of developing a PMAD as well.


In short, both moms and dads are at risk of experiencing postpartum depression. Mothers, however, are at a greater risk due to the greater hormonal surges women experiences because of pregnancy and childbirth.


What Does Postpartum Depression Look Like?


Postpartum depression looks a lot like Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). That means we see many of the same symptoms as MDD, but we'll also find some different ones. Symptoms of postpartum depression include:


> Sad or depressed mood most days of the week for most of the day

> A significant change in appetite (eating more or less than normal)

> Inability to sleep, even when given the opportunity to do so

> Feelings of guilt or shame

> Suicidal thoughts, such as, "My baby would be better without me"

> Choosing to isolate, even when given the opportunity to be with others

> Feeling a lack of emotional connection to the baby


There are more symptoms of postpartum depression, but these are some of the big ones when looking for the signs of this condition.


We have to remember, however, that there are other perinatal mood disorders too! Everyone knows about Postpartum Depression, but there are some other, very real and scary feeling conditions that parents can experience. They include:


> Postpartum Anxiety or Perinatal Anxiety

> Postpartum OCD or Perinatal OCD

> Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

> Bipolar Mood Disorder

> Postpartum Psychosis


These conditions can be overwhelming, debilitating, and rob a new mom or dad of a happy postpartum experience. These conditions impact the individual's intimate relationship with their partner and can have a disastrous impact on the person's relationship with their new infant.


The great news is, PMADS, including postpartum depression, can be treated and cured. Not only are there practical steps you can begin taking TODAY to help yourself or someone you know manage a PMAD, but there are mental health professionals that specialize in the treatment of these conditions.


If you think you're suffering from Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety, then I invite you to give me a call today. Not only do I specialize in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, but I've taken extensive, specialized training for the treatment of Perinatal Mood Disorders. If you're ready to begin the journey, I'm ready to help you.


For more information on Perinatal Mood Disorders, check out my other articles giving you information on how you can take steps to help yourself, and information on how postpartum depression is treated. You can also check out the resources below for more information and support.

 

Perinatal Mental Health Resources


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

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