6 Questions Answered about Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety
Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) have been hot topics for quite some time, but it often isn’t given the necessary attention it deserves. Mental health, in general, is not respected in the way that it should be unless something tragic happens. When it comes to maternal mental health like PPD and PPA, people don’t realize how common it is and how it affects parents, children, families, etc.
I am hoping that through this blog, anyone who is looking for information for themselves or for their loved ones can understand the importance of seeking support and resources for those who need it.
Before I even get started, I do want to stress that if you or a loved one is needing support to contact a licensed mental health professional and/or medical professional immediately to schedule an appointment. If you are, or if your loved one is in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
What are Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety?
Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA) are maternal mental health diagnoses that are given to a parent, at any time during or after pregnancy (including loss), who experience symptoms that impact their daily lives.
These symptoms include (but are not limited to):
Lack of sleep (outside of the “norm” of the newborn stage)
Lack of eating
Overly cautious or watchful
Intrusive thoughts** - Make sure to read the misconceptions section!!
Baby blues lasting longer than 3 weeks postpartum
Increase feelings of sadness, overwhelm, and anxiety
There are differences between postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety (PPA), but it is very common for a parent to have both PPD and PPA. The easiest way to differentiate PPD and PPA (and please be mindful that this is a generalized difference and can be different per parent) are that parents who experience PPD feel disconnected from their child and their experience, while parents with PPA work to become overly connected to their child and experience.
What Risk Factors that Increase your Likelihood of PPD or PPA?
There are several risk factors that increase a parent’s likelihood of developing postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety. These risk factors include (but are not limited to):
Previous experience with depression and/or anxiety
Previous PPD or PPA with a previous pregnancy
Family members with a history of depression or anxiety
Lack of emotional support
Complications during birth
Difficult life transitions
If this was an unplanned pregnancy
What are the Effects of Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety?
Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety can have intense effects that impact more than just the parents.
Babies and children of parents with PPD or PPA (that are untreated) are more likely to develop mental health issues and sometimes developmental delays (Glover, 2013). This can be especially true for mothers who develop PPD and PPA during pregnancy. This is why it is often recommended for moms to continue taking their medication throughout their pregnancy while being observed by their OBGYN.
Relationships around the parent suffering from PPD and/or PPA are also impacted. Those suffering may isolate themselves further from their support system. They also may lash out emotionally without realizing it. After some time, people may tend to stray away because of it. Which would only intensify the parent’s feelings of being alone. So, the cycle continues.
Not only are relationships impacted, but PPD and PPA cause parents to feel overwhelmed, stressed and tend to lose focus. This can also impact them at work.
Therefore, PPD and PPA are not just issues that occur within the home, so it is important to provide parents with the necessary support, regardless if they are suffering from a maternal mental health issue.
Do Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety Go Away?
Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are treatable with therapy and/or medication. It is also important to build tools to help manage your PPD and PPA symptoms.
With talk therapy, you will speak with a licensed professional about anything you’re struggling with and what you want to change. Change can be for yourself, your baby, and your future.
With a licensed professional, you can build coping mechanisms, a better structure for self-care, tools to improve your relationships, and more. It is especially important to find a licensed provider who has specialized training in maternal mental health issues. You can find a directory of trained professionals through Postpartum Support International.
When it comes to medication, it is a personal decision, however, it is highly recommended to help reduce your symptoms of PPD and/or PPA. There is a wide range of medication that is safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding. To discuss your options, consult with a medical professional.
To summarize, the best way to reduce your symptoms is to seek help... the sooner, the better.
What are Some Misconceptions about Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety?
Breaking down the misconceptions about postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety starts with breaking down stigmas with mental health.
Taking care of your mental well-being is JUST as important as taking care of your physical health. Especially because your body and mind are connected in ways that most people can’t imagine.
Another stigma about receiving counseling services is that it makes you “weak” or in the case of parents who have postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety is that it makes them a bad parent. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking care of your mental well-being and ensuring that you receive treatment for PPD and PPA, means that you are doing your best for yourself and your child. As mentioned before, untreated PPD and PPA can have drastic effects on everyone involved. Therefore seeking solutions means you are a GREAT parent.
One big misconception about parents with PPD and PPA is that they will harm their children. THAT IS NOT THE CASE AT ALL. In news stories, they talk about moms who unfortunately do something tragic, but they are talking about moms who have postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is only diagnosed in 2% of births and less than 5% of those diagnosed do something tragic (Postpartum Support International (PSI), n.d.). For moms who believe they are experiencing postpartum psychosis, it is important to seek treatment immediately.
We don’t hear a lot about postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, but it is important to know that PPD and PPA are highly prevalent. Even if you think you may just be sad, still talk to your pediatrician and/or OBGYN about your concerns and questions.
What Are Some Resources for Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety?
There are plenty of resources for parents who feel that they have PPD or PPA. One of my favorite resources is Postpartum Support International. They have a wide range of services to help parents, like a helpline, directory of professionals who have received specialized training in maternal mental health services, peer mentorship programs, and a chat of expert moms.
The Blue Dot Project is a group that provides information for moms who are having trouble during pregnancy and parenthood. On their website, they have a wide range of books, infographics, support groups, and apps that they recommend.
There is a lot more information I can provide to you because I want to express how important it is to not place judgment on who you are as a parent, just because you have postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. You are a GREAT parent. You ARE capable. You will get through this! You ARE enough!
Lastly, I want you to know that it is ok to ask for support. It is ok to ask for help. If you or your family member needs support or help, there are people with open arms ready to greet you. Give us a call at 954-391-5305 today for your complimentary consultation to find out how counseling for moms can be useful for you.
***Please also remember if there is an emergency to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Glover, V. (2013, August 6). Effects of Prenatal Stress can Affect Children into Adulthood. Retrieved from This Conversation.
Postpartum Support International (PSI). (n.d.). Postpartum Psychosis. Retrieved from Postpartum Support International,