Between 15 to 20% of women experience postpartum depression (PPD).
Between 15 to 20% of women experience postpartum depression (PPD). These percentages are even higher for women living in poverty or for teen mothers.
Christina Ruiz is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology that works at UCHealth Women's Care Clinic in the United States. Dr. Ruiz graduated from the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013. She has more than 6 years of medical experience in this field.
Postpartum depression is considered to be the most common complication of childbirth. “Symptoms can start either during pregnancy or anytime within the first year postpartum,” assures Dr. Ruiz.
These manifestations vary from woman to woman, but according to Dr. Ruiz, often include sadness, uncontrollable crying, anxiety, frequent worrying, irritability, anger, lack of ability to bond with a baby, or feeling emotionally disconnected.
Many women experience changes in their appetite, either completely losing their appetite or eating more than typical. Also, they share a loss of interest or pleasure in the activities they typically enjoy.
“Someone may also experience suicidal ideation or thoughts of harming the baby. If you have these thoughts, get medical attention immediately,” warns Dr. Ruiz.
Women who have experienced a depressive episode in the past or a previous postpartum depression episode are at greater risk. As well as long with family histories of this condition or depression in general.
New mothers who have experienced severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are also at a greater risk for developing postpartum depression due to their sensitivity hormones.
Postpartum depression patients often avoid talking about their feelings because they are ashamed or afraid of being viewed as bad mothers. However, it’s critically important to talk about your feelings and get support from others.
“If you feel that you might be struggling with postpartum depression, please talk to your health provider and start getting the care and treatment you need,” recommends the expert.
Also read: How to Overcome Parental Burnout
A study titled “Postpartum Mood Disorders” by Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, member of Arizona Behavioral Health Associates, P.C., claims that postpartum depression has a prevalence of approximately 10 to 20% of women in the United States, with a higher prevalence in low-income families. This condition can occur in fathers as well, with a majority of 10% of men. It is also twice as likely to occur if the mother is experiencing depressive symptoms as well.
According to the research, “onset of PPD can be anytime during the first year after delivery, with the highest incidence of onset between 4 and 8 weeks postpartum”. Also, “PPD may last from 3 to 14 months or longer if left untreated”.
One of the most significant contributors to this disorder is the decline in reproductive hormones like estrogen after birth. Due to this drastic change in hormones, researchers believe that this is likely the cause of mood changes and depressive symptoms seen in women with postpartum depression.
Factors that may increase your risk include a history of mental illness, abusive relationships, or an absent support system from family and friends during and after your pregnancy.
However, there are many preventative measures to take if you are at risk for developing this condition. For example, it is essential to attend regular appointments with your doctor and evaluate your mental health throughout your pregnancy.
You can also follow any recommendations from your doctors, such as counseling and support groups, or possibly take prescribed medications. Overall, postpartum depression is a treatable disorder, and you should never feel afraid or alone. Be sure to visit your doctor to evaluate your symptoms and discuss the best treatments for your case.