More than just the baby blues
I recently took part in a Continuing Education course on Postpartum Depression (also known as PPD or postnatal depression). This is a topic very near and dear to my heart. I have friends who’ve experienced PPD and even friends who’s families have been torn apart because of a more extreme postpartum mood disorder, called postpartum psychosis.
We’re supposed to be thrilled and elated about the new addition to our family. We all have expectations, from within and from those around us. But what if you’re not able to meet those expectations?
Postpartum depression is the most common side-effect of bearing a child1. It effects 10-20% of new mothers and you’re more likely to incur PPD again if you’ve experienced with previous births2.
Postpartum Depression involves a major depressive episode with onset within four weeks postpartum. Clinicians diagnose PPD with the following: within a two week period, a new Mama will experience five of the following symptoms: depressed mood; change in appetite, eating habits or weight; sleep disturbance; lethargic or agitated motor activity; extreme fatigue; worthlessness or inappropriate guilt; impaired concentration; thoughts of death and a general inability to experience happiness or pleasure (anhedonia)2.
The Baby Blues is a more brief experience, typically peaking 3-5 days postpartum and lasts less than two weeks. It’s actually more related to the tremendous hormonal fluctuations which come with giving birth2.
Some factors which may increase a mother’s risk for Postpartum Depression include2:
– Lack of sleep
– History of mood disorder
– Family history of mood disorder, through first or even second degree relative
– Social isolation
– Depression or anxiety during pregnancy
– Unsupportive spouse
– Marital difficulties
– Temperamental baby
– History of early loss, trauma, abuse in family of origin (can result in poor coping skills)
– Obstetrical complications
– Unplanned or undesired pregnancy
– Additional stress
– Perfectionist tendencies, struggle for excellence, fear of failure
Maybe you’ve felt the effects of PPD, maybe you know some one who has. Open the dialog and remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Asking for help can feel like a weakness, but sometimes asking for help is the greatest act of strength. No one is going to think you’re crazy or you’re a bad Mama. Trust me when I say the expense of not doing anything about depression is far greater than the time and money you will invest to better yourself and your family. We all know that Mama is often the glue holding families together. A happy, thriving parent means a happy, thriving family.
There’s help out there and let’s support and encourage our friends and family to take care or ourselves and take care of each other. Let’s look out for one another. We’re all in this together.
Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) :self scoring tool for persons ‘at risk’ of PPD
USA: Postpartum Support International
Canada: Canadian Mental Health Association
Canada, AB & BC: Postpartum Depression Awareness Project Ltd
UK: PNI (Postnatal Illness) ORG UK
Katherine Stone’s Blog: Postpartum Progress
1) Wisner, K.L, B.L. Parry, C.M. Piontek, Postpartum Depression. New England Journal of Medicine. vol. 347, No 3, July 18, 2002, 194-199.
2) Stearn, S., Presentation: Postpartum Depression and Other Postpartum Mood Disorders.