It is without a doubt that postpartum depression (PPD, also known as postnatal depression) is a serious issue. Parents with postpartum depression often experience severe mood swings and feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, as well as exhaustion. Other common symptoms of PPD also include oversleeping, rage, numbness, irritability, having trouble concentrating, inability to develop a bond with your baby, eating too little (or too much), and many more.
Although PPD is one of the most common complications of childbirth, many of us fail to understand what it is about. So here are a few facts that might help you be aware of PPD:
1. It happens to both men and women
That’s right, folks. Men can suffer from PPD too. Sadly, it’s a fact that most people (including many health professionals) don’t know. According to Postpartum Men, up to 1 in 4 new dads have PPD.
2. It can appear any time within the first year of childbirth
While many believe that an individual can only get PPD within the first few months of childbirth, experts say symptoms of PPD can appear any time in the first year of your baby’s life. As symptoms of this condition may vary between women (and men), only a healthcare provider can diagnose an individual with postpartum depression. Therefore, it’s important to seek help if you experience any symptoms.
3. It does not have a single cause
There is no single answer as to why some new parents are affected by depression. However, studies suggest that hormonal changes play a major play. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that most mothers experience hormonal fluctuations after childbirth, which can cause chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. Besides that, profound lifestyle changes, parenthood pressure, or fatigue may affect a new father’s mental well-being.
4. It can last for months or years if not treated properly
PPD is a serious issue. Not only can it affect a parent’s health and mental state, but also interfere with their ability to connect and bond with their baby. As a result, this may cause the baby to have problems with sleeping, eating, and behavior as he or she grows.
5. PPD and Postpartum Psychosis are two different illnesses
Katherine Stone, an advocate for women with PPD, founder and editor of the award-winning blog Postpartum Progress and a survivor of postpartum OCD, noted that individuals who suffer from PPD don’t harm or kill their kids. However, there is a different (and rare) disorder called postpartum psychosis. Stone said that postpartum psychosis has a 10% risk for infanticide or suicide.
Note: If you are unsure if you are experiencing PPD, check in with Postpartum Support International to locate resources in your area.