Postpartum depression is a form of depression that usually affects mothers shortly after childbirth. It can cause her to feel hopeless, lethargic, and exhausted. In extreme cases, the mother might actually have thoughts about harming her child.
Postpartum depression can be caused by the rapid drop in hormones that occurs after childbirth, or the stress of caring for an infant. Web MD notes that mothers with a history of depression may be more susceptible to deal with postpartum depression.
Even though roughly half of the word has the ability to bear children (and may, therefore, experience this), there are still many misconceptions postpartum depression. Here are 10 of the most common ones.
10 It's Just "Mommy Blues"
Most new mothers experience what's been coined as "mommy blues." It usually occurs during the first few weeks after giving birth, as they adjust to the stress of becoming a new mother. During this time, they might feel stress, anxiety or uncertainty about their ability to get over this hump, but it's not a lasting phenomenon.
Postpartum depression, however, is a more serious, medically recognized disorder. It can go away on its on, but most times, mothers will have to seek treatment and/or counseling for it.
9 It Doesn't Actually Exist
Just as there are some people who mistake postpartum depression for mommy blues, there are some people on the other end of the spectrum who don't believe it exists at all. The stress, lack of sleep, and irritability is just a part of being a new mom, according to them.
These people should be ignored. Postpartum depression is an officially recognized medical disorder, which has been the subject of numerous research studies. Invalidating a mother's concerns won't do much to alleviate her symptoms; it will likely make them worse.
8 It's Uncommon
There's a lot of stigma around postpartum depression. Society puts so much pressure on new moms to be perfect that any misstep might feel like a huge failure. Many moms don't want to admit that they're struggling, which leaves outsiders hesitant to offer assistance.
This hush-hush approach might make it seem that postpartum depression is uncommon, but that's not true. Anywhere from 7-10 % of mothers might deal with postpartum depression at some point during their reproductive years.
7 It Only Happens After Your Baby Is Born
The name postpartum depression might lead you to believe that it only happens post-childbirth. While that is usually the case, some mothers have reported symptoms during their pregnancy as well.
As they prepare for birth, and the new stage of life their baby will propel them into, they become anxious, irritable and depressed. They might doubt whether or not they'll be able to be a good mother. The group of women most likely to experience this are those who've had difficult, high risk pregnancies or dealt with things like gestational diabetes. Unfortunately, these feelings are likely to persist after birth.
6 It Only Lasts A Few Weeks
Postpartum depression doesn't last a set time. Some mothers only experience it for four to six weeks, but it can last much longer. Some mothers have reported to have experienced symptoms for months or even years. There is also research that suggests that postpartum depression is likely to surface when the child is four years old.
Basically, postpartum depression affects every woman differently. And even there's no test to determine just how postpartum depression might effect someone, doctors have found that mothers who go untreated experience symptoms longer.
5 It's Only Affects New Moms
It's widely believed that only new mothers deal with postpartum depression. People assume that once a mother has subsequent babies that she will be in the clear. However, this thinking is inaccurate.
Postpartum depression can, unfortunately, crop up at any point in a mother's life, regardless of the number of children she's had. This is why it's important for moms to have a support system around them for when things get too tough.
4 It Looks The Same On Every Mother
Postpartum depression doesn't only reveal itself as sadness and irritability. While most women who suffer from postpartum depression do experience these symptoms, there are other, lesser known symptoms.
For example, some women have trouble bonding with their baby after birth. For some, however, the opposite occurs. They become hyper fixated on the infant's needs, and can't find a healthy balance be
3 It Means You Don't Love Your Baby
Moms who suffer from the most severe forms of postpartum depression might have thoughts of harming their baby in horrible ways. These are called intrusive thoughts. And while they can be unsettling and alarming, these thoughts have absolutely no barring on the love that they feel for their child.
Postpartum depression is a temporary illness, which usually requires treatment. The intrusive thoughts are a symptom/side effect of this illness, and cannot be controlled. Therefore, they should be regarded as such.
Moms who have these thoughts don't love their babies any less than a mom that doesn't have them. It just means they needs help.
2 It Means You Are A Bad Mother
Mothers who deal with postpartum depression aren't bad mothers. They love and care for their babies, but they're just having a harder time than most.
As stated above, it's important to remember that postpartum depression is an illness, which cannot be controlled. No mother wants to be affected by postpartum depression; it's a scary, stressful, confusing time. Even in the midst of things, they're still trying their best to do what's right for their child.
1 It Only Affects Women
Postpartum depression doesn't just affect mothers. It can and does affect fathers too. On average, one in ten fathers will experience postpartum depression at one point or another.
Men might not deal with the rapid shift in hormones that women do, but they can still feel the uncertainty and pressure of parenthood. They also deal with the exhaustion that can come from having to take care of a newborn baby. Like women, they need and deserve support, whether that's therapy or medication.