It amazes me that postpartum depression is still such a taboo subject matter. As a survivor of PPD and an advocate for mental health, I think its super important to have these conversation so that mothers everywhere will know that what they're experiencing is real and manageable.
I am not a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a medical professional with any questions/concerns you may have regarding postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
According to Medline Plus, postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery. Many mothers who suffer from postpartum depression experience a loss in identity, trouble connecting with their baby, forgetfulness, heightened irritation, loss of appetite and more. PPD is commonly found in women who have a history of moderate depression or women who had a traumatic pregnancy or labor and delivery.
Who is most at risk for experiencing PPD?
Mothers under the age of 25
Mothers of multiples
First time mothers
Women who previously suffered from another mental illness; depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ppd from a previous pregnancy etc.
How can we combat PPD?
Get help from your OBGyn as soon as possible. It is totally normal to feel foggy and detached after having a baby, but if those feelings persist and they feel a little darker and deeper than normal, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If you feel bad at your 6 week appointment, be completely honest and let your OB know. Early intervention will get you back to a good place with your little one and yourself.
If prescribed, take your medication...as prescribed.
Talk therapy is another great resource for mothers to give their thoughts a way of escape. Let them out and let them fly. Don't rationalize. Don't filter. Free them.
How can a mother suffering from PPD be supported by her spouse, family, friends, etc.?
Honestly, just be present. There's a lot going on and she won't necessarily have answers. In many cases, she doesn't know what she needs or how to ask. Just be present and flexible and lend yourself to whatever she may need. Here are a few things you can offer to help:
Take the baby for an hour or two and let her shower or nap.
Cook her a meal or order takeout.
Pick up around the house.
Help her clean the dishes/wash bottles/pump parts.
Hold the baby and turn on her favorite show/movie.
Postpartum Depression is very real and should be taken seriously. So many mothers who suffer do so in silence and without treatment. Toughing it out leaves everyone depleted and detached. If you have a loved one who may be showing signs of PPD, encourage them to get screened and to get the help they need to fully be present for themselves and their baby. PPD is does not have to be the end.
Newsroom, UVA Health. "New Study IDs Moms at Highest Risk for Postpartum Depression". https://newsroom.uvahealth.com/2022/02/22/new-study-identifies-moms-highest-risk-postpartum-depression/
MedlinePlus. "Postpartum Depression". https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007215.htm