Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Anxiety (about 15% of women) have an onset any time until one year after the baby is born and lasts longer than three weeks. The highest time of risk for new mothers is six months after delivery. Symptoms include excessive worry, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, sleep problems, fatigue, loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, change in appetite, irritability, and difficulty making decisions.
Postpartum Psychosis occurs in one to four per thousand women. Five percent of these women commit suicide and four percent commit infanticide. Women with postpartum psychosis experience hallucinations, delusions, and confusion.
Just as you can be proactive about the physical health of the baby and mother, you can also make preparations during pregnancy to take care of the new mom’s (or your own) emotional and mental health. This is crucial and can help combat PPD. Things that can be done include:
- Get support - bring meals, clean house, hold the baby while the new mom takes a nap, be there to talk and listen
- Eliminate stress - let things go that are causing worry
- Talk openly- encourage the new mom to share her needs and how she is doing
- Follow a healthy diet
Did you know that men can get postpartum depression, too? In fact, recent studies have show that 10% of men get Postpartum Depression.
While men may not experience the full spectrum of hormonal changes or other factors that impact women, they are experiencing the change in their role. The pressure to be a good dad. The desire to succeed at being a father. They, too, experience the lack of sleep, the frustration of trying to soothe a fussy baby, the fear of making a mistake.
A few symptoms of depression in men include:
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Depressed mood
- Weight loss
- Suicidal thoughts
- Physical complaints such as stomach problems or headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
While there is much to be learned about postpartum depression in men, one thing is sure. It is important to get help. Studies have shown that untreated postpartum depression in men leads to marital problems, increased fighting in the home, and decreased bonding with the baby (specifically, depressed dads read to their children less than non-depressed dads).
While perinatal mood disorders are not normal, they are also NOT a sign of weakness. Every mother deserves to enjoy her new baby. If you or someone you love is suffering, get help. Call us at 800-678-5500 for more information about inpatient and partial hospitalization (Mother and Baby Program) services. For outpatient services, please call 866-852-4001.
For additional local resources visit www.healthykent.org and look for the PMD resource manual under “infant health”. A great place to find help nationwide is by visiting www.postpartum.net.
Resources for men include www.postpartummen and www.dadsgrow.com.