Raising Awareness of Postpartum Depression
The increasing amount of research geared toward postpartum depression (PPD) has given us some eye-opening information about this overlooked condition. According to recent studies, about 13-20% of women who are pregnant or have given birth will develop one of the wide-ranging symptoms of PPD.
Many people may have heard of the “Baby Blues,” a period of depression-like symptoms after childbirth. It is thought to be caused by the dramatic drop of hormones after giving birth, which then leads the mother to feeling tired, irritable, restless, sad, and even anxious. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70-80% of women experience the Baby Blues.
While the statistic of postpartum depression is significantly lower, it represents an overwhelming number of mothers whose lives are disrupted by the mental illness.
Thanks to recent studies, we now know that there is a spectrum of symptoms one can experience with postpartum depression. For some, PPD drives similar symptoms of clinical depression, but for others, it can branch out into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, or a combination of them.
We also know that postpartum depression has variable timing. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, 33.4% of 10,000 women experienced symptoms of PPD during pregnancy while 26.5% and 40.1% first saw symptoms before and after pregnancy respectively. PPD symptoms can develop within the first year after a child is born and continue on as a long-term problem if not treated.
Health professionals strongly urge pregnant women to receive screening for PPD if symptoms of the Baby Blues persist longer than expected. This is especially recommended for women with a history of depression or mental illness who have an increased risk of PPD. Other found risk factors include race, socioeconomic status, and even maternity leave (less than 6 months).
Screening is only step one in treating postpartum depression. Healthcare facilities must also develop affordable and readily available treatment for those with PPD. Early and continuous treatment of PPD can make a positive difference for both a mother and her child.
Related article: Urban Moms At Higher Risk For Postpartum Depression