Aren’t all new moms tired and moody?
Yes, new moms typically feel tired and overwhelmed. Most will experience some degree of the “baby blues“. But when these feelings don’t go away within a few days or weeks, it may be PPD and may require treatment.
When can PPD develop?
Prenatal and postpartum depression can occur any time from conception through the first year postpartum.
Will PPD go away on its own?
Not usually. Like many illnesses, PPD almost never goes away without treatment. The good news is that there are treatments available that work.
How long does PPD last?
It’s different for every mom, but the sooner she begins treatment the sooner she will start to feel better. Some women feel better within a few weeks, but others feel depressed or “not themselves” for many months. The important thing to remember is that postpartum depression is treatable. Help is available and with treatment and support, you can feel better.
What if I feel this way because I just wasn’t meant to be a mother?
PPD is a medical illness and has nothing to do with how fit or prepared you are for becoming a mother. Self-blame is a frequent symptom of PPD and robs mothers of confidence in their abilities. There is nothing that a woman with PPD could have done to avoid the disorder.
Are moms with PPD a danger to their children?
RARELY. A common symptom of PPD is that a mother may have frightening thoughts about harm coming to her infant. Women with this symptom are usually very ashamed and feel horrible about the thoughts. This is very different from postpartum psychosis, which is a life-threatening disorder separate from PPD. The .01% of women who experience postpartum psychosis may be at risk for hurting their babies or themselves. If you have thoughts about harming yourself or your child you should ask your family or doctor for help right away.
Doesn’t pregnancy prevent depression?
No. Being pregnant is not a guarantee against developing depression. In fact, studies show that a woman is most likely to experience depression during her childbearing years than at any other point in her lifetime.
What kinds of treatments help with postpartum depression?
- Individual and/or couple’s therapy
- Support groups
- Assistance with childcare and other demands of daily life
- Practicing self-care
How do medications used for PPD affect breast-feeding?
It’s important to talk to your doctor about any medication you take when breast-feeding. Studies show the antidepressants most likely to be prescribed for PPD pose a very small risk to breast-fed babies. There are good resources available to help you with this decision.
I think I might have PPD. What should I do?
- Consult a medical professional for a full diagnosis. Talk to an Ob/Gyn, family doctor or a behavioral health professional. A medical doctor can also rule out medical conditions, such as thyroid imbalance and anemia. These are fairly common in the postpartum period and can contribute to feelings of depression.
- Contact your local perinatal support network.
- Take good care of yourself; it’s imperative.