Due to an abundance of myths that many people mistake for facts, we often misunderstand postpartum depression. These insights may help you discern fact from fiction as you meet with conflicting information.
1: All new mothers are tired and depressed after childbirth
Fact: Fatigue and mood swings are common after childbirth. Many women may feel tired and overwhelmed, and their moods may vary from feeling weepy one minute to very happy the next. But not every woman who feels tired and briefly depressed has postpartum depression (PPD). If the symptoms are intense and last for more than two weeks, or if they come and go but still interfere with your daily life, then you may have PPD.
2: You can only get postpartum depression immediately after childbirth
Fact: Symptoms of PPD can appear any time within the first YEAR after a woman gives birth.
3: It will go away on its own
Fact: If left untreated, PPD often becomes chronic depression. Postpartum depression almost never goes away without treatment. Fortunately, there are various effective treatment options for postpartum depression.
4: Women with postpartum depression have thoughts about hurting their baby
Fact: This is not always the case, although it is common. Many women with PPD have scary thoughts about harming their baby or themselves, but they usually do NOT act upon these thoughts. Women with postpartum psychosis, however, are more at risk of hurting their babies or themselves because of the delusional thinking that can occur with this mood disorder.
5: Women with postpartum depression look depressed
Fact: Most mothers are ashamed of admitting they are depressed and often try to pretend otherwise. You may not be able to tell from the outside the real feelings they have inside.
6: Women with postpartum depression are bad mothers
Fact: Postpartum depression is a real medical disorder. Having postpartum depression does not make someone a bad mother. It does not mean that you are not cut out to be a mom, or that you didn’t want your baby.
7: Postpartum depression is a result of something you did
Fact: Getting postpartum depression is not your fault. It isn’t a result of a shortcoming on your part or how you’re caring for your child.
8: You’ll recover if you just get more sleep
Fact: Fatigue is a big trigger and does contribute to postpartum depression, but having sufficient rest alone will not cure postpartum depression.
9: Nursing mothers with postpartum depression can’t take antidepressants
Fact: Some antidepressants work well for treating postpartum depression with minimal risk to the baby. Some SSRIs like Zoloft are considered the drug of choice since they can be safe for breastfeeding women. Of course, you should consult your doctor prior to use of any antidepressant.
10: Pregnant women don’t get depressed
Fact: Women do get depressed while pregnant. Pregnancy does not insulate you from depression. In fact, because of the dramatic physiological changes in your body, rates of depression may increase during pregnancy.
If you are unsure if you are experiencing PPD, check in with Postpartum Support International to locate resources in your area. Remember, we are all different, so everything isn’t exactly the same for everyone. If you don’t like how you are feeling, then that’s enough reason to do something about it.