Why You Should Care About Postpartum Depression (Originally posted March 11, 2011)
Part 1 in a Series
by Gretchen Johnson, BSN, RN-BC
A happy time filled with excitement and joy – that’s what most of us envision when someone is having a baby. It’s a celebration of new life – right? The media offers us pictures of smiling (or sleeping) babies and happy, slim, confident, and well groomed mothers. We are so inundated with these images that this has become the expectation of many soon-to-be new moms and the rest of society.
For many women, this is not the reality. Nearly 15% – 1 out of every 7 new moms – experience some form of postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder (PMD). PMD encompasses mood disorders from pregnancy until one year after a baby is born and includes depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Alongside women, more than 1 in 10 men experience postpartum depression.
PMD is the most common complication of childbirth. If it goes untreated, there can be serious complications for moms, babies, and families. Consequences include disruption in mother-baby bonding, interruption in the infant’s development, family and relationship conflicts, and in serious cases, can lead to suicide or infanticide.
You should care about PMD because it is impacting the lives of women, babies, and their loved ones. Chances are it has or will impact you or someone you love. We should care because although it is the most common complication of childbirth, it continues to go undiagnosed and untreated. And we should care because unlike other illnesses during and after pregnancy, PMD has so many stigmas attached to it resulting in a fewer moms asking for help. It is imperative that we educate those around us, prepare women for the possibility of PMD, and work to reduce the stigma of PMD so that women can get early treatment.
This is the first of a series of postings about post partum depression – PPD.
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Gretchen Johnson, MSN, RN-BC, is the Mother and Baby Partial Hospitalization Clinical Services Manager and coordinator in this program’s development. She is a member of the Healthy Kent 2020 Perinatal Mood Disorder Coalition, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the Psychiatric Nursing Council of Southwest Michigan.