Myths About Depression in the Postpartum Period
Myth: Don’t worry about it. It will go away on its own.
Long-lasting changes to mood after the birth of a baby will generally not go away on their own. It is important to differentiate postpartum depression from the baby blues, which is a transient experience of many of the same symptoms in the weeks following birth. The baby blues are experienced by roughly 75-80% of new mothers and are a normal response to the hormonal shifts, as well as psychological and physical, stress of having a baby.
Given all of these changes, it is considered normal that there would be some sort of adjustment for biological, as well as for adoptive parents. However, if the symptoms persist for longer than two weeks after giving birth, or if they get worse quickly, it is time to seek professional help. Post-partum mood adjustments can have long-lasting effects to the mother’s emotional and physical health, as well as the health and development of her baby.
Myth: Postpartum Depression only affects mothers who have particularly difficult birthing experiences or hard-to-settle babies.
False! Biological and adoptive mothers from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds living in urban or rural areas have experienced depression in the postpartum period. Research does point to specific risk factors, but it is important to note that depression often occurs as a combination of influences as opposed to being caused by one specific factor.
Myth: Only mothers get postpartum depression
While the majority of what is written about is the mother’s experience of post-partum depression, fathers and other caregivers can experience depression too. The experience of having a child is life-changing for everyone and if the mother has depression in the postpartum period, other caregivers are at an increased risk for having depression as well. Roughly 10% of postpartum fathers get depressed and the risk increases up to 50% if their partner has depression during this time. If we think of the family as a unit, anything that affects one person affects another.