Postpartum depression isn’t rare — estimates show that between 11 and 20 percent of American women will experience postpartum depression after a live birth.
That approximation is conservative, since it is based solely on the number of women who voluntarily report their symptoms. A major stigma is still tied to depression, and this may lead to significant underreporting.
This percentage also does not factor in women who either miscarry or whose baby is stillborn.
When medical professionals reach out, educate and inform, more women can get the help they need. Screening for postpartum depression is the best way to identify this problem and eventually rectify it.
Who Is at Risk?
All women who have had a baby or miscarried are at risk of developing postpartum depression. It can begin any time within 12 months after giving birth. However, certain risk factors can increase the chances of a woman experiencing this condition. These include:
- Inadequate family support
- Low socioeconomic status
- Complications during labor or after childbirth
- Depression during pregnancy
- A family or personal history of bipolar disorder or depression
- Having a child during the teen years
- Hospitalization of the baby
- Giving birth to multiples
- Death of a child
- Becoming a mother for the first time
Postpartum depression is never the fault of the sufferer, and all women deserve treatment to help them recover.
What Are the Symptoms?
The markers of postpartum depression can include: a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed; a change in eating habits; anxiety; feelings of guilt or anger; and extreme mood swings.
An inability to sleep also could be an indication of the condition. Many fears may plague a new mother’s mind, including being left alone with the child or feelings of inadequacy. Feeling disconnected from the baby, family and friends, or feeling like you want to hurt yourself or the baby are also definite signs of the condition.
Your Physician Is Ready to Help
At your first visit after your delivery, your doctor will ask you questions about your overall mental state and your mood. Be honest about how you feel. If you are suffering from postpartum depression, you can get the help you need without judgment. From helping you find and join a support group to prescribing medication, your doctor can be your trusted resource.
Your provider also can help you set realistic expectations for yourself throughout this time, as well as help develop strategies to get more rest and assistance with the care of your baby.