New motherhood is hard. The sleep deprivation, the hormones, the crying, the body changes, the guilt and the worry can team up to leave moms of newborns feeling harried, wondering: “Is it this hard for everyone? Is my child particularly difficult? Am I simply not cut out for this?”
Often, stress multiplies with a second baby since there’s a toddler or preschooler around, testing every boundary and sorting out his own emotional trauma of sharing Mom and Dad.
And all that is simply normal.
But on top of this usual stress cocktail, some moms find themselves in the throes of something darker: postpartum depression.
It is “like being in a tunnel,” actress Hayden Panettiere, 26, recently told People. “You can’t even remember when you felt good. You try and think back to when you felt good, when you felt positive, when you felt happy, and you can’t. All you see is this enveloping darkness.”
Panettiere announced last October she’d be taking time off ABC’s drama Nashville to seek treatment for postpartum depression, ironically mirroring her character Juliette’s long-planned postpartum storyline. Juliette’s return to the show this month brought with it another wave of attention to the issue.
Panettiere made it clear her reason for speaking publicly is to encourage other moms to seek help. This is not just the “Baby Blues” or something to shrug off: Sadly, untreated depression in any of its forms can lead to suicide.
And doctor’s offices should be screening pregnant women and moms of babies for postpartum depression, according to a January recommendation by the United States Preventative Services Task Force, a group of national experts that reports to Congress. Many pediatricians already do leverage well-child visits as an opportunity to ask mothers about their emotional state and discern who might need treatment.
The truth is, a mom suffering from postpartum depression is not weaker than other moms. She is not less than other moms. It is not her fault.
The truth is, she needs help.
And moms, you’re not alone. As this NBC Saint Louis news report notes, postpartum can affect new dads as well!
Relatedly, the New York Times reported last month on effort by the University of North Carolina to recruit women via iPhone app to participate in a study of potential genetic factors that may help predict a woman’s risk of postpartum depression. The app will track symptoms of postpartum depression and invite women who suffer to submit DNA for testing.
This infographic from FIX provides a great overview of some facts and figures about the issue.
Source: Fix.com Blog