While efforts are made to raise awareness on mental health conditions, there is still work to be done, especially in the realm of maternal health. Birthing a child can have a major influence on the physical, mental, emotional, and financial well being of all mothers, including surrogates and adoptive parents. Below is a guide to understanding the three major types of depressive orders experienced postpartum.
Postpartum blues, also known as “baby blues”, is experienced by the majority of mothers as researchers predict this condition affects up to 85% of maternal patients. Common symptoms include anxiety and crying spells. These episodes are often the result of the changes in hormonal equilibrium associated with pregnancy. This condition is recognized as a temporary depression; in most cases, these symptoms dissipate after two weeks.
Postpartum depression (PPD), although less common than baby blues, is a more severe form of depression. In fact, postpartum depression contributes to 20% of maternal mortality cases. Those with mood disorders prior to pregnancy may be at higher risk for PPD. Researchers suspect family history and genetics may play a role to an extent. Like other common depressive disorders, symptoms of PPD may include sadness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and thoughts of self-harm. One study found that depressive episodes lasted up to 3 years among some mothers 2. While more research needs to be done on the prevention of PPD, some suggest that developing healthy sleep habits may mitigate depressive symptoms.1
Postpartum psychosis is a more uncommon condition, affecting only 0.1% of new mothers. This percentage escalates to 30% for mothers who have a history of bipolar disorder, but can also affect mothers with no history of mental illness.1 Nonetheless, postpartum psychosis is an extremely severe condition where mothers may experience hallucinations, confusion, and unconsciousness. It is important to note that this condition requires immediate medical attention as there are high rates of self-harm and harm to the baby.
The mood disorders mentioned above are highly treatable. There are several different treatment options and resources available, including the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline. Going through a mood disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. At Trust Women’s Healthcare, we can help you navigate difficult times through our prenatal and postpartum services –schedule an appointment, we are here to help.
- Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression: Mood Disorders and Pregnancy. Published July 25, 2023. Accessed August 12, 2023. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/postpartum-mood-disorders-what-new-moms-need-to-know
- Putnick DL, Sundaram R, Bell EM, Ghassabian A, Goldstein RB, Robinson SL, Vafai Y, Gilman SE, Yeung E. Trajectories of Maternal Postpartum Depressive Symptoms. Pediatrics. 2020 Nov;146(5):e20200857. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0857. PMID: 33109744; PMCID: PMC7772818.
About Dr. Peggy Roberts:
Dr. Peggy Roberts is a board certified, New York licensed Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She has spent over a decade caring for women of all ages. She has extensive experience in preventative medicine for women, high-risk pregnancies, other medicine and aesthetics.
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