Just about everyone expects that the birth of a child automatically fosters feelings of happiness and joy in the mother. However, most people do not realize that about 10 to 15 percent of women develop Postpartum Depression (PPD). PPD usually emerges in the first 2 to 3 months following childbirth but can also develop anytime after delivery. If left untreated, PPD can affect the mental health of the entire family. However, with proper care including therapy and/or medication, mothers can make a full recovery from PPD.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD) include:
- Depressed or sad mood
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness or incompetence
- Sleep disturbance
- Change in appetite
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety and constant worry
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Terrified of being alone with your baby
- Thoughts of wanting to “send your baby back”
- Doubting your decision to become a mother
If you think that you may have PPD, take the following quiz:
- The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
- If you score 12 or higher or if you answer “yes” to question number 10, please seek a more thorough evaluation from a mental health provider.
Treatment for Postpartum Depression (PPD)
In addition to psychotherapy and medication, I recommend the following to mothers struggling with PPD:
- Get as much sleep as you can to restore your biorhythms. Allow your partner, family, friends, or someone you hire help with night feedings. Getting sleep is vital to your recovery!
- Join a new mothers group. Becoming a mother can be a very isolating experience and it is essential to be able to share your new trials and tribulations with other mothers in the same boat.
- Have someone you trust (a friend, relative, or hired help) care for your baby so you can get some relief—time away from your baby will restore and rejuvenate you.
- Accept help from others! When friends and family ask how they can help, say yes and tell them what you need.
- Make sure to find time to take care of yourself (have dinner with a friend, take a yoga class, go for a walk, get a massage, take a nap, take a long shower).
- Communicate how you feel to people you love and trust. Talk to other mothers who have experienced PPD. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Having PPD does not make you a bad mother!
Local Resources for Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum Depression (PPD) Support Group:
New Mothers Support Groups:
Home Visiting Program for New Mothers:
Massachusetts General Hospital:
Books on Postpartum Depression (PPD)
- It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I had a Baby, a Breakdown and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather Armstrong
- This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Raskin
- Sleepless Days by Susan Kushner Resnick
- Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields