Baby blues have long been considered a normal part of the postpartum period. Feelings of mild depression, tearfulness, anxiety, melancholy, irritability and mood swings occur in 85% of women, and these symptoms lift within 1-2 weeks.
On the other hand, the onset of a perinatal mood disorder, which encompass Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety, occurs in 10-15% of deliveries, but the statistic is undoubtedly much higher, because we know that PPD is highly underreported. Many women, overcome by feelings of shame, guilt and feelings of self-loathing are reluctant to share their experiences. Perinatal mood disorders are medical conditions that are all too often experienced as deep personal failure. It is important for women to know that PPD is not their fault and very, very rarely do women’s experience end up with the terrifying and dramatic outcomes and situations that are the ones that are represented and highlighted in the media.
With PPD, women experience more significant symptoms of depression and anxiety, irritability, detachment, guilt, melancholy, worthlessness, regret, inability to function, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms can appear within the first week of delivery, or be delayed for several months.
While PPD is the most common complication of childbirth, women often feel alone, judged and frightened within this state. Ideas and expectations of motherhood that may have been germinating for nine months, or a lifetime, are threatened, and an encompassing and overwhelming feeling of failure can descend.
It is important to know that PPD and it’s related disorders are both treatable and transient. Duration cannot be predicted, but with help and support, the light, or the promise of it, does emerge.
Post Partum Stress Center
Post Partum Support International
This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression, Karen Kleiman & Valerie Raskin
Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood, Karen Kleiman
What Am I Thinking?: Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression, Karen Kleiman
The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression, Karen Kleiman