After a person gives birth, it is common for them to experience fatigue, sadness, and mood swings. Several sources note that as many as 80% of people who have given birth have these types of feelings, which are often referred to as “the baby blues.” In most cases, these symptoms subside within about two weeks. If they persist for longer than that, or if they are particularly severe, they may indicate that the person has developed postpartum depression. It is extremely important to understand that postpartum depression is much more serious than “the baby blues.” When a person develops postpartum depression, their husband, wife, or partner may not initially understand what their loved one is going through. As is so often the case when dealing with a mental illness, education, compassion, and honest communication can make a world of difference.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression, or PPD, is a commonly misunderstood mental health disorder. It is a complex concern that, if left untreated, can have a devastating effect. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) refers to postpartum depression as “major depressive disorder with peripartum onset.”
Among healthcare professionals, the peripartum period is typically defined as the last few weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks after giving birth. The DSM-5 criteria include the qualifier that symptoms must begin during pregnancy or within four weeks after a person has given birth.
Many people who develop postpartum depression also struggle with feelings of shame and guilt. They may feel that they are failing as a parent, or that their symptoms are evidence of flawed character. These emotions may prevent them from talking about postpartum depression with their husband, wife, or partner. Of course, postpartum depression is not a personal failing. It is a legitimate and potentially debilitating mental health concern. It is also treatable. When people who have developed postpartum depression get the treatment they need, they can learn to manage their symptoms and live much healthier and more satisfying lives.
Is PPD Common?
If you have been experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, you are not alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 10% of all women had at least one major depressive episode in the previous 12 months. Among people who have recently given birth in the United States, about 12.5% (or one out of eight) had symptoms of postpartum depression.
The prevalence of postpartum depression in Tennessee is a bit higher than the national average. According to the CDC’s Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 15.5% of people who gave birth in Tennessee in 2019 reported symptoms of postpartum depression. In 2020, the rate of postpartum depression in Tennessee dropped slightly, to 15.3%.
Signs & Symptoms of Postpartum
Some symptoms of postpartum depression are identical to the symptoms of major depressive disorder. Others – specifically the ones that involve your feelings toward your baby – are unique to postpartum depression. If you’ve been exhibiting any of the following signs, or experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have developed postpartum depression:
- Overwhelming sadness
- Dramatic change in appetite, which can lead to either overeating or not eating
- Abnormal sleep patterns, which can include sleeping too much or hardly at all
- Finding it difficult or impossible to make even small decisions
- Having trouble concentrating, focusing, or remembering
- Being unable to experience joy or feel pleasure
- Losing interest in topics or activities that used to be very important to you
- Feeling that you have formed no connection with your baby
- Lack of interest in your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Believing that you are not a good parent
Postpartum depression can also be accompanied by panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety disorders. If you or someone you care about has been demonstrating symptoms of postpartum depression, it is important to seek effective professional care.
Talking to Your Partner About PPD
When a person is struggling with the symptoms of a mental health disorder, it can often be difficult for them to discuss what they’ve been experiencing and ask for help. Here are a few tips for talking about postpartum depression with your husband, wife, or partner:
- First, remember that postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed about. You have no reason to feel guilty for developing this disorder, nor should you feel the need to apologize for the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Postpartum depression doesn’t define who you are as a person. It is a disorder that requires treatment, compassion, and support. You deserve nothing less.
- Find a quiet time to have an open and honest conversation with your partner. This can be difficult to do when you’re a new parent, but it is worth the effort. If possible, get a trusted family member or close friend to keep an eye on the baby while you have this discussion.
- Describe the symptoms you’ve been having. Tell your partner that you suspect you may have postpartum depression. Emphasize that this isn’t “just the baby blues.” Let them know that neither of you are to blame. Most importantly, tell them that you need professional help.
- If you have already been seeing a counselor or therapist, bring your husband, wife, or partner to a session. Having the guidance of a trained professional can keep the conversation focused. Your counselor or therapist can also provide an appropriate recommendation for the steps you and your partner should take next.
- If you haven’t been seeing a therapist or counselor, talk to your OB/GYN or another healthcare professional. The person who is providing postnatal care to you and your baby will understand what you’ve been dealing with. They can recommend treatment options. They can also offer insights about how to speak with your partner, wife, or husband about postpartum depression.
Begin Treatment for Postpartum Depression in Nashville, TN
Arbor Wellness in Nashville, Tennessee, offers comprehensive treatment for people who have been experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. Our compassionate caregivers provide personalized services in a safe and highly supportive environment. Visit our admissions page or contact us directly to learn more.