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Everyone’s Problem: Spotting Postpartum Depression in Both Moms and Dads

By HERWriter
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Takmeomeo/Pixabay  Takmeomeo/Pixabay

One of the last things a new parent needs is the morass of mood disorders that often attend the end of a pregnancy. Yet 15 percent of mothers, and up to 10 percent of fathers, experience sadness beyond the common Baby Blues, according to the American Pregnancy Association and Journal of the American Medical Association.

Symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety or mania are distressing, but much of the suffering they inflict is needless. Treatment provides some degree of relief for virtually all who seek it out.

Approximately 40 percent of affected mothers don’t seek medical help for PPD, a 2014 BabyCenter Survey reports, to say nothing of the fathers. The dads’ reluctance to admit to depression at this time limits clinical understanding even more.

A renewed look at all postpartum disorders – their versatility, their prevalence across genders, their tendency to blur with other conditions and ordinary parenting stresses – is due.

Simply identifying the problem and seeking help would go a great distance in preventing harm to parents and, by extension, the newborn child too. Families are healthiest when every member finds ways to feel comfortable, engaged and happy in their bonds.

Please note that there are a variety of disorders associated with the postpartum state.

Postpartum depression is the most common, followed by postpartum anxiety (in 10 percent of mothers), postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (3 to 5 percent), postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (1 to 6 percent) and postpartum psychosis (up to .2 percent).

Although rare, postpartum psychosis is considered a medical emergency and demands immediate professional help, APA reported. There’s also postpartum hypomania, or the Baby Pinks, a condition characterized by euphoria, impulsive behavior, racing thoughts and restlessness.

Since these symptoms are often mistaken for the distinctive glow of motherhood, it’s key that friends and family remain watchful for bizarre behavior and warnings, CTV News reported.

Please note also that the Baby Blues affect 50 to 75 percent of new mothers, manifesting in the form of abrupt, distressing feelings. The condition is extremely common and does not require medical attention.

When these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, however, or when their severity causes alarm, it’s time to speak with a medical professional.

Individuals struggling with postpartum depression or related conditions may observe any number of the following problems:

  • feelings of hopelessness or sadness
  • loss of appetite
  • compulsive eating
  • insomnia
  • hypersomnia (a relentless, uncontrollable urge to sleep)
  • feelings of guilt, inadequacy or worthlessness
  • disinterest in activities or relationships you normally enjoy, or in bonding with your baby
  • numbness

Postpartum Progress blogger and PPOCD survivor Katherine Stone describes this as a feeling that you’re “just going through the motions.”

  • lethargy
  • hyperactivity
  • feelings of anger or irritability
  • physical symptoms like headaches, backaches, upset stomachs, hot flashes, dizziness, nausea or panic attacks
  • brain fog

The National Institute of Mental Health describes this as “problems concentrating, remembering details and making decisions.”

  • unexplained feelings of worry or dread
  • compulsive, repetitive behaviors you can’t seem to control (OCD-like symptoms)
  • nightmares or flashbacks involving any complications that arose during delivery
  • avoidance of sensory triggers you might associate with a traumatic delivery experience
  • Intrusive, disturbing or suicidal thoughts, thoughts about hurting the baby, fear of being alone with the baby
  • psychotic symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, rapid mood swings or unexplainable bizarre behavior

If you do observe psychotic symptoms or intrusive thoughts that you don’t feel you can control, please get professional help immediately.

Hoping other problems will go away on their own could result in needless hardship for yourself or your family. Nearly 6 percent of moms continue having trouble beyond the first year after delivery, but experts say this outcome drops significantly when mothers receive treatment early.

In the case of long-term problems, PPD may trigger the onset of chronic depression or a preexisting vulnerability, the Huffington Post reported. Most of the time, though, it may be helpful to remind yourself that what you are feeling will last no longer than weeks or months, provided you have also consulted with professionals.

PPD’s origins are complex and remain mysterious in many ways. Families should approach this as a shared challenge faced by anyone who cares for the parents or the child.

It could hurt everyone if it’s dismissed or stigmatized. Just as the sleep deprivation and other stresses that come with being a new parent matter, it’s critical that support systems take postpartum depression seriously.

The American Pregnancy Association. “Do I Have a Form of Postpartum Depression?”


Rosen, Margery D. “Sad Dads.”


Pearson, Catherine. “Why So Many Women Don’t Seek Help For Postpartum Depression.”


Mulholland, Angela. “Baby pinks? Postpartum euphoria can be as dangerous as 'baby blues.'”


Stone, Katherine. “6 Surprising Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.”


Stone, Katherine. “The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (in Plain Mama English).”


The National Institute of Mental Health. “Postpartum Depression Facts.”


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Pearson, Catherine. “When Postpartum Depression Doesn’t Go Away.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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