Postpartum depression seems to be all over the news these days. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen are being much more open and honest about their struggles and that is wonderful! Every time someone speaks out a little more stigma fades away.
But there are still things that most people don’t know about PPD. So let’s break it down.
It’s not just depression.
Postpartum depression has what medical professionals call a co-morbidity with postpartum anxiety. What does that mean? Think of them as middle school best friends – they are almost always together. Postpartum depression can include panic attacks, insomnia, rage, and feelings of being trapped. Those are all things that we usually associate with anxiety.
You can find out if you are at risk.
Do you know what the risk factors are for postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD? If you don’t, you should! A variety of factors can affect your risk level – things like whether you experienced trauma in childhood, medical conditions, and what your stress level is right now.
You CAN lower your risk!
Once you know what your risk factors are you can work to lower your overall risk. Some things you cannot change (a history of alcohol or drug abuse), but some things you can change (a lack of support) and I can help you take those steps.
1 in 3 women of color will suffer.
Yes, you read that right. The statistic for all women in the US is about 20%, but women of color are suffering at higher rates and getting help at lower rates. There are complicated reasons why those things are true, but there are simple things you can do to help. If you are a woman of color make sure that you are screened during pregnancy and regularly throughout your first year postpartum – even if you have to screen yourself. If you are a friend or family member to an expecting or new mom of color make sure that you talk to her openly and honestly about her mental health and help her get support if she needs it.
It can start in pregnancy.
1 in 10 moms who deal with a postpartum mental illness actually became sick while they were pregnant. If you, or a pregnant friend or family member is struggling please reach out for help. These illnesses are treatable with therapy and there are medications that have been proven safe to take during pregnancy as well.
It can start at any time in the first year.
There are moms that get sick in the first two weeks and moms that get sick when their babies are almost toddlers and moms that get sick at every point in between. You may hear that onset is usually within the first four months, and that is true, but it isn’t the only time.
It’s not just moms.
1 in 10 dads will experience depression, anxiety, and/or OCD during the first year of their child’s life. We aren’t talking about the dads that are suffering and we need to be. For our families to be healthy we need healthy kids and healthy parents, too.
If you need help you can reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.