Updated: Nov 22, 2022
Postpartum refers to the period after childbirth. Perinatal is the time period before or after childbirth. You may oftentimes see Perinatal Depression or Postpartum Depression used interchangeably. Perinatal or Postpartum Depression (PPD) is considered the most underdiagnosed pregnancy complication in the United States with more than 400,000 infants born to mothers who are depressed each year (Alhusen & Alverez, 2016). PPD is not talked about enough so let’s bring some more awareness to it and normalize it for new parents.
Let me start off by saying no, you are not crazy and no you are not a bad parent!
Most people are not aware of what PPD is or what it may look like. And some people think that depression can’t happen to them. It can happen to anyone. My hope is to bring more awareness to PPD and what it may look like whether it be to help yourself, or a loved one. Although I just said you are not crazy, PPD is not something you should take lightly. Often, it takes more than just you to get better. PPD has nothing to do with something that you’ve done wrong or failed at doing as a person or parent. It also doesn’t mean that you’re weak or flawed. PPD happens more often than one would think.
What is PPD?
PPD is common, in fact, 1 in 7 women experience PPD and more than half of women are experiencing some of these symptoms during pregnancy (American Psychological Association). PPD should not be mistaken for the baby blues (baby blues can show up a few days after birth and lasts about 2 weeks). If you have symptoms that are lasting well over 2 weeks, you could have PPD. – Don’t freak out.
PPD doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, income, education, or culture and it can look different for each person. PPD can be present for up to a year after birth and can last even longer if untreated.
Symptoms of PPD can include, but are not limited to:
Loss of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy
Racing or scary thoughts (intrusive thoughts)
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Change in eating habits
Sleep disturbances or sleeping too much
Loss of interest in the baby, family, and friends
Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby
Women’s Health brings up a great point on the topic of PPD that I hear and see often with clients - some women don’t tell anyone about their symptoms. They often feel embarrassed or ashamed for feeling depressed. Society often makes mothers feel like they are “supposed” to be happy, and you “shouldn’t” be sad because you have this cute squishy baby. But in reality, f*ck that. You feel the way we feel and that is ok! It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom for not being happy after having a baby. This is normal and you are not alone, and it is possible to feel better.
Postpartum Support International mentions risk factors that can put you at a higher risk for developing PPD. If you have any of these factors, discuss them with your Doctor or licensed professional ahead of time.
A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
Inadequate support in caring for the baby
Complications in pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding
A major recent life event
Mothers of multiples
Mothers whose infants are in the NICU
Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments
Women with a thyroid imbalance
Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)
What to do?
The good news is there is a lot more awareness surrounding PPD, especially in the Mental Health community. There are many, many therapists that can help you as well as many therapists that have the training to specifically treat PPD and other postpartum mood disorders. Reach out for help, talk to your loved ones, and talk to your doctor about any symptoms that you are experiencing. You have options and your doctor or licensed professional can go over those with you. Again, you are not alone AND once again, you are not crazy. Reach out to a licensed professional to help you start feeling better as soon as possible!
We are not here to judge you, but here to listen and provide you with the tools to start feeling better.
Keep these numbers handy or for immediate help go to your nearest emergency room.
988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline
Dial or text: 988
En Español: 1-888-628-9454
PSI (Postpartum Support International) (Non-Emergencies)
1-800-944-4773, #1 En Español or #2 for English
Text “Help” to 800-944-4773 (English)
Text en Español: 971-203-7773
National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
Teea Fullen-Barnes is a new therapist at Mindsight. Teea LOVES the Summer. She is obsessed with the sun and water and considers herself a mermaid, part time for now because she lives in Kentucky. Teea loves to spend time with her Boxer, Harlem as well as her family and friends. She loves to blast music in her car (it’s therapeutic) so you might hear her before you see her :). Teea loves 90s R&B and hip-hop music, which is what you’ll probably hear. Her favorite thing to do is absolutely nothing as she is still working on finding and sticking with a hobby.
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