Mondays with Pec (Part I)

Pec Indman, EdD, MFT, has been gracious and submitted a wonderful piece from Beyond the Blues, a book she co-authored with Shoshana Bennett. I’ve decided to post in sections. This week, we’ll read about what Postpartum Depression is and who can get Postpartum Depression. Next Week, we’ll be looking at how to identify whether or not you have PPD or PP Anxiety. As always, please discuss any concerns you may have with your physician!


What is Postpartum Depression?

Often the term Postpartum Depression (or PPD) is used to describe mood and anxiety disorders that occur within the first year after a baby is born. There are five postpartum mood/anxiety disorders. Postpartum Depression is the most common.

The Baby Blues occurs in up to 80% of new moms. This is a normal response to the hormonal changes, the sleep depravation and adjustments that occur immediately after birth. We don’t consider the blues a mood disorder. The Blues usually begins around day 3 postpartum, and should be gone within 2-3 weeks. With the blues, mood is up and down, and women sometimes find themselves bursting into tears for no reason. But, overall, there is a positive outlook. It differs from postpartum depression in timing (only occurs in the first three weeks) and severity (it’s mild and goes away without treatment).

We believe postpartum depression occurs in between 15% to 20% of all new moms. That’s up to 1 in 5 mothers! Many of us have a stereotype of a depressed person being curled up in a ball with the blanket pulled up over her head, crying. That’s not really how it looks for most women with Postpartum Depression. What new mom has the time to hide in bed? Some call it Postpartum Depression/Anxiety because many women experience both depression and anxiety.

Who gets Postpartum Depression?

Women who have a history (or family history) of depression or anxiety, a previous postpartum depression, depression during pregnancy, a history of abuse, marital/relationship problems, teenage moms, social isolation, or a sick baby are all at an increased risk of postpartum depression. Women who have severe mood changes before their periods or while taking the birth control pill are also at an increased risk of postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression can begin at the birth of the baby, or can occur at any time within the first year. Sometimes sudden weaning or a first menstrual period can trigger the onset.

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