How Common is Postpartum Depression
While childbirth is one of the most beautiful experiences, it can often be accompanied by postpartum depression. Not only does postpartum depression take away from the amazing moments with your newborn, but these hormonal changes can seem never-ending and emotionally overwhelming. The first step to treating postpartum depression is acknowledging that it is happening. Now that you’re here, we can dive deeper into the topic and better understand what it is, how it occurs, and how to cope. Read on to learn more about postpartum depression and how it can also impact child development.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is experienced by some women post-labor. Essentially, postpartum depression refers to the varying mood swings of major depression, anxiety, and emotional withdrawal during and after a pregnancy. In this emotional state, depressed mothers may experience crying spells, sleep deprivation, a loss of appetite, and an overall lack of energy as well as interrupted sleep cycles.
While each of these are common postpartum depression symptoms, individuals may experience them in different ways and on different levels. At the most minor level, doctors and researchers refer to the shift as “baby blues.” However, at the most extreme levels, postpartum depression can lead to a higher risk of psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as other psychiatric disorders.
Postpartum Depression Statistics
The term “postpartum depression” is frequently used, however, the statistics below will shed light on how much it truly affects women around the world. The following figures are from 2018 and are the most recent in regards to postpartum depression and how severe the impacts are:
- On average, 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression post-pregnancy.
- Around 75% of women will experience the “baby blues” within the first year of their child being born.
- 10-15% of women will experience more severe cases of postpartum depression.
No matter how you experience postpartum depression, it is important to get the help that not only you deserve, but that your baby deserves as well. In doing so, you can ensure that your child’s needs are being met while you also take care of your own wellbeing.
How Postpartum Depression Impacts Child Development
It is normal to discuss the mother’s needs when talking about postpartum depression, but it is equally important to pay attention to how untreated postpartum depression can impact the baby’s development as well.
Postpartum depression that is consistent and severe has been shown to have a noticeable impact on child development. Parental postpartum depression can increase the risk for the following areas in children:
- Delayed speech and language development
- Insecure attachment post-infantry
- Behavioral issues
- Higher rates of depression as children develop into adolescents
While postpartum depression symptoms significantly impact the mother’s day-to-day life, it is important to note that the parental withdrawal that naturally occurs during depression also has a significant impact on infant and child development. Fortunately there are a number of ways to combat postpartum depression and remain present with your family. In doing so, you can significantly lessen the impact on your child’s development.
Managing and Treating Postpartum Depression
At times, postpartum depression can feel like a whirlwind with no end in sight. However, the key to managing and treating postpartum depression is to take small steps in the right direction. Depression does not disappear overnight, however, with consistency, the right steps, and a little extra support, you will find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Ask For Help
When it comes to postpartum depression treatment, therapy is a valuable tool that can help mothers move past the emotional distress. Therapy allows you to have a safe and confidential place to express difficult emotions and provides you with the tools to help you navigate those feelings.
Not only is therapy beneficial for your mental health, but it can also act as a preventative tool for your little one as well. Whether your child is an infant, toddler, or if they have older siblings, therapy can be used to help alleviate household tension and guide children in the right developmental direction.
Children’s Bureau offers an extensive amount of therapeutic support from infants to individuals up to 21 years of age. As such, mental health tools and resources can help children who may feel the secondhand emotional distress that arises from parental postpartum depression. Aside from our mental health services, Children’s Bureau’s Healthy Families America home visitation program specifically helps new or expecting parents and their journey leading up to, and after birth.
Make a Temporary Medication Plan
Antidepressant medication and other natural vitamins are a great option to help offset the effects of postpartum depression. If you are experiencing common symptoms and are interested in making a temporary antidepressant medication plan for yourself, making an appointment with a physician is a great way to jumpstart your journey to a better state of mental health. For a natural option, Vitamin D, St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, and Rhodiola are all helpful as well. Please make sure that you consult a doctor prior to taking any supplements.
Make Time for Exercise
Lastly, exercise has been shown to have a significant and positive impact on mental health and postpartum depression specifically. Making time for exercise in your weekly routine allows your body to create a noticeable increase in endorphins, which is linked to lowering depressive symptoms.
Leave Postpartum In The Past
If you are feeling emotionally drained and withdrawn from postpartum depression or the “baby blues,” help is here. With the above information, you can start taking small steps towards bettering your mental state. It is important to note that the change will not occur overnight, however, with consistency and patience, you can overcome this barrier and enjoy motherhood. Not only will these steps benefit you as a parent, but will they have a significant impact on your child’s development as well.
Jose A. Ramos Jr., Director of Prevention
Jose A. Ramos Jr., MSW, is the Director of Primary Prevention at Children’s Bureau. He has worked with Children’s Bureau since 1994 and has over 30-years of experience working in the Child Welfare field. He has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Long Beach and is earning his MBA. Jose is also Secretary of the National Association of Social Workers.