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July 09, 2024

Dispelling common myths and misconceptions about postpartum depression

Mental Health Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum depression affects about 15 percent of people who have a baby. Even though it’s pretty common, the condition remains widely misunderstood. Here are some of the most widespread myths about postpartum depression, as well as the facts.

Myth: Postpartum depression is the same as the “baby blues”

The baby blues are temporary feelings that usually begin a few days after giving birth and pass in about two weeks. Symptoms of the baby blues include:

• Mood swings
• Feeling anxious, sad, or overwhelmed
• Crying spells
• Loss of appetite
• Being unable to sleep or sleeping too much

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that can last much longer. While its exact causes are unknown, researchers believe it may be triggered by a sudden change in hormone levels that occurs in the body after giving birth. Its symptoms tend to be more severe than the baby blues and may need to be treated by a health care provider. People with postpartum depression may also:

 Feeling guilty, ashamed, or worthless
• Lose interest in things they previously enjoyed
• Withdraw from friends and family
• Think about harming themselves or their baby

New parents experiencing any of these symptoms should talk to someone they trust or reach out to a mental health professional. They also can connect with the national crisis text line by texting home to 741741 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline by calling 988.

Myth: Postpartum depression always happens right after giving birth

Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression doesn’t always happen right after giving birth. It may start before giving birth or as late as a year later.

Myth: Postpartum depression only affects the birthing parent

Although it’s more common among people who have given birth, postpartum depression can affect their partners. This may be because of:

 Feeling excluded from the bond between the child and the birthing parent
• A shift in the relationship between the two partners
• Financial or work stress
• Hormonal changes, such as drops in testosterone levels

Myth: Having postpartum depression means you’re failing as a parent

Postpartum depression is not something you can control, and it's definitely not something to be ashamed of. Shame can make people hesitate to seek the help they need. That shame can also make someone’s partner reluctant to talk to them because they’re afraid of offending them. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness of the fact that developing postpartum depression doesn't mean that someone is doing anything wrong as a parent.

Myth: Postpartum depression just goes away

Possibly because it’s often confused with the baby blues, many people think postpartum depression will go away without treatment. Usually, however, it lingers or gets worse. About 5 percent of people who get it say its symptoms last three years or more.

Myth: Postpartum depression can’t be treated

Psychotherapy and medication have proven to be effective treatments for postpartum depression. Coping strategies like meditation also can help.

Debunking the many myths about postpartum depression is crucial for new parents and their support systems. Knowing the truth about this condition empowers people who are suffering to get the help they need. And then they can get back to being themselves and enjoy the experience of being a new parent.

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