Stigma Surrounding Post-Partum Depression
Having a baby changes everything. There are so many expectations for new mothers to live up to. Media and pop culture show women having a baby as the best day of their lives, and immediately establishing an unbreakable emotional bond with their baby. A topic that is often not publicized is that 1 in 7 moms who experience post-partum depression (PPD). According to the CDC as many as 1 out of 9 women experience symptoms of depression before, during or after pregnancy. PPD is a mood disorder that is not caused by anything a mother did, rather it occurs due to fluctuations of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy and after birth.
The “baby blues” is a term used to describe the tiredness, sadness, and worry that many women experience after having a baby. However, symptoms of PPD are similar to symptoms of general depression, and are more intense and last longer than the “baby blues”. Symptoms include crying more o
ften than usual, feeling angry, withdrawing from loved ones, extreme worry flabout the baby, feeling distant from the baby, worrying that you will hurt the baby, or feeling guilt about not being a good parent (CDC). Since PPD is not often discussed in the mainstream media, women who experience PPD may not realize how common it is. Most women also may not recognize that stress is a normal result of the extreme transition of welcoming a new member into their family.
Women can feel isolated due to these overwhelming feelings, and worry that they will be stigmatized by their family and friends if they reveal how they are truly feeling inside. This can in turn lead a new mother to unintentionally withdraw from those closest to her. Awareness of PPD is crucial in the effort to encourage mothers with depressive symptoms to receive support from family members, and their healthcare practitioners. If we all work together to spread awareness about PPD, we can break down barriers preventing women from seeking treatment, and empower mothers who feel inadequate due to PPD symptoms.
Written by Khamai Simpson, Spring 2017 Intern for Healthy Baby Network
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About Deanna Spiotta
Deanna is the Communications Director for Healthy Baby Network.