There is no denying childbirth is an emotional time in any woman’s life, but in the past few years more attention has been brought to the clinical disorder of Postpartum Depression (PPD) which occurs in an estimated 10-15 % of mothers (Glavin, 2012). According to Burling, Luchay, Luchay, Thornton, and Shenk (2012) as many as 721,260 women and their families in the US dealt with postpartum depression in 2010. While many women experience tearfulness, emotional lability, and difficulty concentrating after giving birth, mothers who experience PPD not only have longer lasting symptoms, but the symptoms are also more severe. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter (2011) these symptoms include: depressed mood, sadness, crying spells, loss of interest in daily activities, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, fatigue, reduced energy (beyond what typically occurs when caring for a newborn), sleeping problems, change in appetite, inability to concentrate, and thoughts of suicide.
Though literature and awareness is growing in the area of PPD and other perinatal mood disorders, the disorder is often overlooked by health care and mental health providers, family members, and even the mother herself. According to Glavin (2012) there are several barriers to mothers receiving treatment for PPD. These barriers include: lack knowledge about PPD, denial or minimizing symptoms, assuming the problems are common after giving birth, and lack of awareness of treatment options (Glavin, 2012). It is imperative for mental health providers, support partners (such as churches, family members, and friends), and health providers take means to education themselves as well as the expectant mothers about the risks and preventative measures related to PPD as well as the available treatment options for this disorder.
PPD is highly treatable and is preventable in some cases. Effective treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT); medication, alone or with CBT; group therapy with CBT, educational, and transactional analysis components; and interpersonal psychotherapy (Bledsoe & Grote, 2006). Early intervention may aid some women in avoiding the onset of PPD after giving birth (Glavin, 2012).
There are a growing number of available resources for education and support for PPD including Postpartum Support International (PSI), and numerous national support groups and networks for women who have dealt with PPD. In the Nashville area, Hope Clinic for Women* provides education through the prenatal program at Baptist Hospital, training to medical and mental health providers, and offers specialized counseling and groups for women experiencing PPD symptoms.
* Hope Clinic for Women; established in 1983 equips people to deal with unplanned pregnancies, prevention, pregnancy loss and postpartum depression. More information at www.hopeclinicforwomen.org or 615-321-0005. Services offered on a sliding scale.
Beyond the “baby blues”: Postpartum depression is common and treatable. (2011). Harvard Mental Health Letter, 28(3), 1-3.
Bledsoe, S. E., & Grote, N. K. (2006). Treating depression during pregnancy and the postpartum: A preliminary meta-analysis. Research on Social Work Practice, 16(2), 109-120. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1049731505282202
Burling, A., Luchay, D., Luchay, C., Thornton, D., & Shenk, K. (2012). Postpartum depression. Working Strategies, 15(1), 15-15,21.
Glavin, K. (2012). Preventing and treating postpartum depression in women – a municipality model. Journal of Research in Nursing, 17 (2), 142-156.
Amy is the Client Programs Manager at Hope Clinic for Women. She has worked in the field of Mental Health Advocacy and Counseling since 2008. In addition to her work at Hope Clinic for Women, Amy has experience working with victims of sexual assault, special needs foster care, and individuals dealing with issues related to trauma as well as over 10 years of experience in full-time Christian Ministry.