Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Mental health concerns during and after pregnancy are an incredibly common occurrence. So common, in fact, that 1 out of 5 postpartum women will experience some form of postpartum depression or anxiety. If that is you, please know that you are not alone.
What is a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder?
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are more commonly known as postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. The term "perinatal" is a more accurate description because these symptoms can show up during pregnancy (antepartum) or up to one year after giving birth (postpartum). Perinatal depression and anxiety are very similar to regular depression and anxiety. One main difference is that onset is specifically related to childbearing and all the things that come along with it, such as hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation, relationship strain, and changes in personal identity. Another key difference is that the majority of the distressing thoughts and feelings one experiences tend to be focused on the baby or oneself (i.e. safety, quality of parenting, etc.). There are multiple factors that influence the chances of having perinatal mental health difficulties, such as hormones, past mental health concerns, and genetics. At this time, there's no way to tell for certain who will and won't experience postpartum depression or anxiety, however, it is totally treatable and possible to recover from it. Here is more information on depression from the Center for Disease Control.
How is postpartum Depression treated?
As mentioned above, postpartum mental health concerns are completely treatable. Research has shown that talk therapy is an incredibly effective way to manage and resolve the troubling thoughts and behaviors that come up. Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy are two techniques that work very well in addressing . Additionally, peer support groups are great for helping moms normalize their experiences and receive validation that they aren't alone. Medication is also something that can help during these times, but it's recommended to talk with a doctor and/or a psychiatrist with experience treating women who are either pregnant or in the postpartum period. Postpartum Support International has some great resources regarding medication. If you'd like to know more, check out PSI's page for medication resources here.
Can dads and partners get Postpartum depression, too?
Absolutely! Dads and partners are experiencing changes in stress, sleep, and hormones right along with moms. Priorities have to shift with the addition of a new baby and that can be very tough on everyone. Current research says that 1 in 10 dads or partners experience postpartum mental health concerns. Just like moms, they can also benefit from talk therapy, peer support groups, and medication to support them through this transition. For more information on how dads' moods can impact their kids, check out this article.