Five Common Misconceptions About Postpartum Depression

After giving birth, there are many women who experience postpartum depression.  In fact, postpartum depression is one of the most common complications that occur after childbirth.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, postpartum depression effects 10 to 15 percent of new mothers, and it is one of the least understood forms of depression.  Many women who suffer from postpartum depression are viewed as weak or selfish.  The families of the women who suffer from this condition can be demeaning and not supportive.  Sometimes even doctors dismiss increasing symptoms telling women that they just need to perk up.  Because of the stigma involved, many women do not get the treatments that they so desperately need.  They often do not know that postpartum depression is treatable and can be temporary if the right help is received.

There are many myths about postpartum depression that keep new mothers in the dark about their own potential condition and keep the public misinformed. Let’s take a look at five of the most common misconceptions about this mental health concern.

Myth #1 – Postpartum depression occurs right after a woman has given birth.

A woman is likely to start showing symptoms of postpartum depression within the first year after giving birth.  Most women will dismiss the symptoms if they occur any time after the third or fourth month after they have given birth.  Women often do not seek help or wait until it has been several months before asking for help.  These women are usually surprised when they are told that they are suffering from postpartum depression.

Myth #2 – Postpartum depression will go away on its own.

Not true.  Postpartum depression, like other kinds of depression, needs the right kind of treatment.  It cannot and will not be overcome by ignoring it or forcing yourself to rise up and overcome it.  A sufferer cannot simply snap out of it. While postpartum depression is highly treatable, again, the stigma is so great that often women do not seek treatment.  They are often judged by their friends and families.  They often internally feel like they are in some way substandard or feel guilty for their own feelings.  Getting professional help is really the best way to treat postpartum depression effectively.

Myth #3 – Women who suffer from postpartum depression do nothing but sit around being sad and crying.

Postpartum depression manifests itself differently in every woman.  While it is true that some women cry a lot and are sad much of the time, not every postpartum case exhibits these symptoms.  Some women talk about feeling numb or detached. Others are more angry or irritable.  Some have heightened anxiety surrounding the safety of their children.  Most sufferers of postpartum depression suffer without letting on that anything is wrong.  They still take care of their families, go to work, and do all of the things that they are meant to be doing, but they are still suffering inside.

Myth #4  Moms who suffer from postpartum depression will hurt their children.

Postpartum depression is often confused with postpartum psychosis.  The statistics on mothers harming their children are as radically different between these disorders as the disorders are themselves.  There is a 10 percent chance that mothers with postpartum psychosis will harm their children.  1 in 1000 mothers could suffer from postpartum psychosis.  Mothers with postpartum depression are more likely to overcompensate for their disorder and take extra care with their children rather than neglect them.  Our culture is such that when serious harm comes to a child, the media immediately equates the problem to postpartum depression when it is very unlikely to be the case.

Myth #5  Suffering from postpartum depression is the fault of the sufferer.

Women who suffer from postpartum depression are very likely to blame themselves.  They feel guilty or shameful about the disorder and do everything they can to hide it.  But it is not their fault.  There are several biological factors that make a woman more likely to end up with postpartum depression.  Hormones are certainly a factor.  After the birth of a child, it takes quite a while for the hormones in a woman’s body to regulate themselves.  A family history of postpartum depression can also make a woman more likely to exhibit postpartum symptoms.  A personal history of abuse or trauma can also make a woman more likely to display symptoms of postpartum depression.  Whatever the reason, biology is usually to blame for this kind of disorder, and it should be treated as such.