This is supposed to be one of the happiest things of my life, so why don’t I feel that way? What is wrong with me?

Having a child can be one of the most beautiful experiences, an experience most mothers will state is one of the best in their life and because of that, mothers come to expect that same feeling when they have their own child. When different emotions are felt however, ones of anxiety, confusion, or sadness, women often believe they are alone in feeling those things. There has not been enough awareness spread about postpartum depression for women to realize that they most certainly are not alone. In fact, according to postpartum depression experts at postpartumhealth.com, 1 in every 8 women that delivers a child is affected directly by postpartum depression (PostpartumHealth.com)

Baby and Mama

Postpartum depression is not an exclusive illness, there is not a ‘certain type’ of person that it exclusively affects, it can happen to anyone after having a baby. An article from the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health states:

“Women with a past history of depression, even times of just “feeling low,” a family history of depression, or stressful life events are more likely to develop postpartum depression.” 

While there is no guaranteed demographic of individuals that are targeted, there are a few risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a woman getting postpartum depression. Some of these risks as stated by WebMD and Every Day Health include:

  • Women who have previously had history of depression, anxiety, or mood disorders.
  • Women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression after having a child previously
  • Being at a younger age during the time of pregnancy
  • Women who have multiple children are more likely to get it with each progressing child
  • Those who have limited support emotionally, physically, and financially during both pregnancy and after having the baby.
  • Family history of people having postpartum depression
  • Risky or difficult circumstances or complications with pregnancy and/or delivery
  • High stress levels

 

The above chart was created by Susan G. Kornstein, MD to show risks of postpartum depression based on previous history and is presented by Medscape. Link: http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/527494 

Postpartum depression mainly affects women after childbirth, however there is a small number of men that can be affected directly as well. According to Postpartum Men:

 “Every day, over 1,000 new dads in the United States become depressed. And according to some studies, that number is as high as 2,700. That’s 1 in 10 to as many as 1 in 4 new dads who have postpartum depression,”(PostpartumMen.com).

Paternal postnatal depression (PPND) is a much less common form of postpartum depression that occurs in men and develops over the child’s first year of life. Symptoms might be similar to the way women experience postpartum depression, but men usually try harder to hide their depression and react differently to their feelings than women. Though it is not as prominent in men, it is important to acknowledge that postpartum depression can affect any new parent so it is key to watch for symptoms.

Something that is one of the more difficult issues regarding postpartum depression is that people suffering typically become very withdrawn and try to hide what they are going through whether it is because they are embarrassed, they just don’t know how to cope with the emotions, or they don’t totally understand what is wrong. They will go through their days feeling miserable but try to smile when around others which makes it increasingly difficult for others to notice if something is wrong so they are unable to help. Even people with large groups of people noticing everything about their day to day lives, such as a celebrity or person of public interest, are successful in hiding the struggle because it is only natural to hide the uncomfortable parts of life that you don’t know how to deal with.

Some examples of prominent people who have struggled with postpartum depression include: Celine Dion, Brooke Shields, J.K. Rowling, Lisa Rinna, Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, and Marie Osmond.

While some factors may create higher risk for certain individuals in having postpartum depression, it truly can affect anybody, no matter what the situation. Because it can happen to anybody, it is important to watch for symptoms in everybody so that hopefully the process of coping and healing can begin with less time spent suffering.

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**This article is part of a series of articles I wrote regarding Post Partum Depression for part of a project I worked on as an undergraduate student. See previous article in series here.**

Sources cited for this article: 

(2002), POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 47: 391. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2002.tb04346.x

Helping Men Beat the Baby Blues and Overcome Depression. Postpartum Men. 2008-2015. http://postpartummen.com/index.html