What is Postpartum Depression?
First you need to know that it isn’t just depression. That picture you may get in your head of a mom crying in bed, or a mom hurting her child – we need to expand that view.
The official numbers right now are that somewhere around 20% of moms and 10% of dads suffer from a parental mental illness. This is depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or psychosis that can occur during pregnancy or any time in the first year of baby’s life. So already that is a radically different view – right?
We also know that only 15% of them are getting help. So we’re talking about HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PARENTS who are suffering in silence. Sometimes it’s because they honestly don’t know that what they are going through is an illness and not them being horrible parents.
Some of the most common symptoms of these illnesses are:
Feelings of Helplessness
There are more, of course – and each illness has it’s own specific set. Depression and Anxiety tend to occur together and that can trick a lot of people into not realizing they are sick. If you were exhausted and angry all the time, but you also had a really hard time leaving your house without feeling like you were having a heart attack – would you think that was depression?
The most important things for you to know is that this is COMMON (around a million parents each year), and that this is TREATABLE (there are multiple therapies and medications that work), and that this is TEMPORARY IF you get help.
If you’re pregnant right now you can learn more about parental mental illnesses and how to lower your risk by joining The 4th Trimester Prep School, a five day email class that will help you assess and lower your risk. 4th Trimester School
If you are a parent looking for resources there are so many available, I promise you. You can start with Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net) or you can email me directly and I can help connect you to resources in your area (graeme@ postpartummama.org). You are not alone, and you can get better.
If you’re a survivor – what symptoms did you have? Which ones surprised you?
Once upon a time a theatre major from Charleston, SC met a software designer from NJ. They fell in love, they had a baby – and that’s when everything changed. When I got pregnant with my son I also got two perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. In my case, it was depression and anxiety. The trauma surrounding his birth left me with PTSD. In dealing with and healing from these illnesses I have found my voice and my passion.