A well-known Hollywood star recently checked into a facility that treats postpartum depression, bringing much-needed attention to this critical issue. Postpartum depression is real, and it requires treatment. Frequently, however, shame keeps new mothers, and their families, from seeking help. Here are nine facts to know about postpartum depression:
1. Postpartum depression is not the “baby blues.” Approximately 80 percent of women experience the baby blues during the first week or two after giving birth. They feel worried, tired, sad and often overwhelmed. But true postpartum depression is much more severe and persistent.
2. Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate. You can be a single mom or happily married, struggling financially or well off.
3. It’s hard to get help, and women may need support to take that step. Society tells us motherhood should be an idyllic experience, and when it falls short, we often feel guilty.
4. The symptoms of postpartum depression may surprise you. Yes, there may be sadness, but there is also often anger, intense irritability, anxiety and hopelessness.
5. As many as one in five women may experience postpartum depression, based on CDC statistics. However, this number is based on self-reporting by women in 17 states. The actual number is likely higher.
6. If your doctor prescribes medication, don’t be afraid to take it. There are good pharmaceutical options for treatment of postpartum depression. After all, if you had high blood pressure, you would take a drug to lower it.
7. You can breastfeed while taking an antidepressant. Studies have proven certain antidepressants are safe for nursing mothers and their babies.
8. Although you may have your hands full taking care of your baby, don’t neglect the basics. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep. Even a ten or twenty minute walk can make a huge difference in your mental state. Buy some prepacked salads, or let friends bring over food. Have your partner take over for midnight feedings.
9. Having postpartum depression doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. It’s not your fault, and the sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll be able to give your baby the attention he deserves.