How do I know if I have Postpartum Depression or Anxiety?
Pregnant women and those who recently had children often struggle with symptoms of Depression and Anxiety. In fact, it is estimated that 15-21% of pregnant and postpartum women will struggle with clinical levels of depression and anxiety. Additionally, 11% of postpartum women will experience Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and 9% of postpartum women will experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following childbirth. Having emotional difficulties during pregnancy and after childbirth is very common, but unfortunately these disorders continue to be under-diagnosed, misunderstood, and stigmatized. It is my goal to help women work through these issues and recover because we know that with appropriate care and psychotherapeutic treatment, Postpartum Depression is highly treatable.
Can I have PTSD from childbirth?
Yes, you can. Sometimes childbirth can be very traumatic for women. It can be difficult to discuss these experiences due to the stigma surrounding motherhood and the misconception that bearing a child is always a “miraculous/transformative” experience and that a woman’s birth plan always goes as expected. We know that many women feel their bodies were “not their own” during labor and delivery, that their consent was not sought out to perform certain procedures such as episiotomies, and that the side effects of taking magnesium after a cesarian section can be quite distressing. These are just some of the traumatic experiences women suffer during childbirth that may contribute to a postpartum woman developing PTSD. Women with prior histories of sexual abuse often find childbirth triggering for a number of reasons and it is important that the birth experience be processed in a safe environment with a trauma-informed therapist.
What’s the difference between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression?
The Baby Blues affects approximately 60-80% of new moms! That means that most women who just had babies are experiencing mild depressive symptoms such as crying, feeling overwhelmed by motherhood, feeling uncertain, etc. These symptoms are caused by the extreme fluctuations in hormones at the time of birth, as well as acute sleep deprivation and fatigue, and last no more than 2 weeks. In contrast, postpartum depression is when a woman experiences the physical and emotional symptoms of clinical depression following childbirth. Cornerstones of PPD include helplessness and hopelessness. Untreated, these symptoms may last years and have negative effects not only on the mother, but also on her baby, other children, and partner.
I’m pregnant and I think I’m depressed or anxious…should I seek treatment?
Yes, absolutely! While it may feel scary to seek treatment while pregnant or nursing, it is very important to consider the effects of not getting treatment as well. Research shows that babies are strongly impacted by their mothers’ mental health during pregnancy, so therefore we cannot simply “wait” to seek treatment until after the baby is born. Damage may be done in-utero if severe depression or anxiety is not well contained. Think about all the stress hormones coursing through your body – it is coursing through your baby’s body too.