We really need to change the way we treat mental health in this country.
It is estimated that one in five Americans have some sort of mental illness, yet 56% of them don’t have access to treatment. Even when treatment is available, people are afraid to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental health.
Tragedies occur when mental illness is left untreated. The most heartbreaking examples involve women who suffer from postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.
The largest study to date shows that as many as 1 in every 7 women suffers postpartum depression. And the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, finds that among women followed for a year after delivery, some 22 percent had been depressed.
The study also recommends that all pregnant women and new mothers be screened for depression.
And yet, four years later, no such screening exists as a mandatory part of postpartum care.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to symptoms for depression, but may also include
- Crying more often than usual.
- Feelings of anger.
- Withdrawing from loved ones.
- Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby.
- Worrying that you will hurt the baby.
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby.
- Symptoms of depression include
- Lasting sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
- Feelings of irritability or restlessness.
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.
- Loss of energy.
- Problems concentrating, recalling details, and making decisions.
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much.
- Overeating or loss of appetite.
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
- Aches or pains that do not get better with treatment.
If you experience any of these symptoms after having a baby, talk to your doctor immediately. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion if your concerns are ignored. Ask your partner, friends, or family members for help.
And if you ever have a thought, no matter how fleeting, about harming yourself or your baby, seek help immediately.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Postpartum Support International: 800-994-4PPD (4773)
Have you experienced PPD?