What Most People Don't Know About Postpartum Depression

29 October 2015

Even though postpartum depression is becoming more recognized, there is still such stigma and lack of knowledge of what it means and how to help.  Here are some things to be aware of.

  1. Postpartum depression can actually include symptoms of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  These are referred to as postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD.  The anxiety can be associated with fears of the baby getting sick or getting harmed and the OCD can be related to the obsessive thoughts associated with these fears or constantly checking on the baby.
  1. A history of infertility, miscarriage, and high risk pregnancies, can increase a woman’s risk for postpartum depression. After riding a roller coaster of emotions to even have a baby, there is an extreme sense of guilt if the new mom doesn’t feel complete and utter joy.
  1. Women who have a tendency toward perfectionism can be at higher risk for postpartum depression. This is because they are more likely to have unrealistically high standards and be self-critical.
  1. Women with postpartum depression often feel like they are “going crazy” and know that their thoughts may be are irrational and that something doesn’t feel right.
  1. Family members can often be unsupportive and even exacerbate symptoms when they show a lack of understanding or minimize a woman’s feelings. Saying things like “oh you’ll be fine” and “aren’t these the best days of your life” are not helpful and can make women with postpartum depression feel worse.
  1. The “baby blues” do not last longer than 2-3 weeks. If feelings of sadness, irritability, and anxiety continue past this time frame a woman could be suffering from postpartum depression and should be assessed for treatment.
  1. Postpartum depression is a very treatable illness. The combination of medication and therapy, and sometimes therapy alone is the preferred course of treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with what could be postpartum depression please seek help. 
  2. Postpartum psychosis is rare compared postpartum anxiety and depression and occurs in .1% of births.  Postpartum psychosis is also a treatable illness. It is characterized by delusional beliefs and hallucinations. Due to the risk of harm to herself or her baby, pospartum psychosis should be treated as a medical emergency.  More information about postpartum psychosis can be found here http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/postpartum-psychosis/

Bina Bird, MA,. LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Haslet, TX and the surrounding DFW areas.  Learn more about me at http://hasletcounseling.com or call 817.676.8858 for a free phone consultation.  My specialties include couples, preteens/adolescents, and women's issues-infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, postpartum and other life transitions. 

Disclaimer: The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. Reading articles and content on this website does not constitute a therapeutic relationship.  

Sources: Therapy and the Postpartum Woman, Karen Kleiman

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