Postpartum depression used to be an unknown mental health condition that afflicted new mothers, but now awareness is increasing and prevalence is estimated to be higher than ever before.
National Health Service Choices, a health website specific to the U.K., states that postnatal depression seems to be present in more mothers now, according to a survey conducted by 4Children, a national charity in the U.K. that helps children and families. The article states that “around 3 in 10 new mothers may experience the condition,” and other sources generally find 10 to 15 percent of new mothers have postpartum depression.
The survey had other interesting findings including that about 25 percent of mothers who experienced postnatal depression “still suffered from PND up to a year after their child was born.” More than half of the new mothers with this condition didn’t even seek professional help.
There are different reasons for mothers not seeking treatment, including not thinking it was “serious enough to warrant professional treatment” and “being too scared to tell someone, for fear of consequences.” The charity has many recommendations for how to address the problem of women not seeking treatment, including a focus on awareness by putting on a national campaign.
For people who don’t know about postpartum depression, especially women who are hoping to be mothers, are currently pregnant or are new mothers, it’s time to start learning the basics. The more you know about postpartum depression, the better equipped you are to seek help, if needed.
Postpartum depression is defined as a “moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth,” according to MedlinePlus. Postnatal depression can happen anytime “soon after delivery or up to a year later,” but it generally occurs three months after delivering a baby, the website stated.
Although postpartum depression is not specifically recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there is a small description of “postpartum onset specifier” that is similar to what most people consider postpartum depression. Symptoms include mood changes and instability, as well as “preoccupation with infant well-being,” according to the DSM.
Other symptoms of postpartum depression are agitation, irritability, appetite changes, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, withdrawal and/or isolation, lacking pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable, concentration issues, energy loss, sleeping issues, anxiety, negative feelings toward the baby, inability to care for the baby or oneself, and being afraid to be alone with the baby, according to MedlinePlus.
Remember you are not alone with this condition. There are treatments available, and there is no need to feel ashamed. Some celebrities are coming out to fight the stigma, like Kendra Wilkinson from “The Girls Next Door” and “Dancing with the Stars.” She recently wrote the book “Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails, And Getting My Sexy Back,” where she writes about her battle with postpartum depression, according to Fox News.
Do you have symptoms of postpartum depression? Have you ever been diagnosed? Share your stories below.
4Children. About us. What is 4Children? – 4Children. Web. October 18, 2011. http://www.4children.org.uk/about
NHS Choices. Postnatal depression ‘often unreported.’ Charity calls for action on postnatal depression – Health News – NHS Choices. Web. October 18, 2011. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/10October/Pages/call-for-postnatal-depression-support.aspx
National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus. Postpartum depression. Postpartum depression: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Web. October 18, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007215.htm
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder: Fourth Edition: Text Revision. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
Gostin, Nicki. Fox News. Kendra Wilkinson’s New Book Explores Postpartum Depression, Spicing Up Sex Life in the Kitchen. Web. October 18, 2011. http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/09/26/kendra-wilkinsons-new-book-explores-postpartum-depression-spicing-up-sex-life/?test=faces
Reviewed October 19, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Malu Banuelos