A New Study Finds That Postpartum Depression Can Last Years—So Let's Take a Look at What It Actually Is
By Jaime Stathis| November 10, 2020
"Postpartum depression, a strikingly common experience among new mothers, spent decades being a taboo, barely-acknowledged topic.
It wasn’t until celebrities like Brooke Shields, who candidly wrote about her experience with postpartum depression in 2005, encouraged destigmatization and invited women to discuss grief during a time in their lives where they expected to feel nothing but joy.
As PPD continues to be discussed among celebrities and on social media, and as women begin to bring the issue to their doctors and mental health professionals in hopes of getting treatment, this begs the question: What is postpartum depression, exactly? Let’s take a closer look.
What is postpartum depression?
According to The Cleveland Clinic, postpartum depression is a mental shift new mothers experience after delivery, also called the “baby blues.” The symptoms exist on a spectrum and everything from mild blues to postpartum psychosis that falls under the umbrella of postpartum depression. The symptoms can be as mild as sadness, irritability, and trouble sleeping, or as dramatic as paranoia, hallucinations, and obsessive thoughts.
How common is postpartum depression?
The Cleveland Clinic states that an estimated 50-75% of women experience an emotional shift after the birth of their child, with up to 15% experiencing more severe, prolonged symptoms which is called postpartum depression. Among those women, approximately 2% suffer from postpartum psychosis, which comes on quickly and is a medical emergency.
When also taking into account women who had stillbirths or miscarriages, the number of women affected in the United States is around 900,000.
The underlying causes of postpartum depression explain why it’s so prevalent. Hormones drop after pregnancy, and the shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone can trigger mood changes similar to premenstrual syndrome but amplified. Fatigue, stress, and a history of depression are all contributing factors."