By: Maryellen Van Atter
Postpartum depression is the experience of depressive symptoms (such as fatigue, changes in eating habits, and a loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable) after giving birth. Though commonly known as postpartum depression, it is now often referred to by the new name of peripartum depression. This name change indicates that the depression can onset during pregnancy or after childbirth. In addition to symptoms of depression, parents may also suffer from feelings that they are a bad parent, fear of harming the child, or a lack of interest in the child. It is also important to note that both men and women can suffer from peripartum depression; fathers may struggle with the changes that come along with a new child, and the symptoms of peripartum depression are not contingent on giving physical birth to a child. It is estimated that 4% of fathers experience peripartum depression in the first year after their child’s birth and that one in seven women will experience peripartum depression.
Peripartum depression is different from the ‘baby blues’. Many new mothers will feel despondent, anxious, or restless in the first week or two after giving birth; this is due to the variety of biological, financial, and emotional changes which occur after having a child. This is called the baby blues. However, these feelings will not interfere with daily activities and will pass within ten days. If these symptoms persist, or if they do interfere with daily activities and functioning, it is likely that the problem is something more serious such as peripartum depression. It’s important to seek treatment for these symptoms as soon as you’re aware of them. Many parents feel a stigma against reporting these feelings, but this should not be the case: experiencing peripartum depression does not mean that you are a bad parent or that you do not love your child. It is a psychological condition which many people experience and it can be resolved with proper treatment.
Peripartum depression can be treated through therapy and through medication. Common treatments include psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, and antidepressant medication. Medication should always be managed by a professional, especially if being administered to a mother who may be breastfeeding. These treatments have been proven effective in many studies and are able to help with symptoms of peripartum, or postpartum, depression.
If you or someone you know is struggling with peripartum depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact us in Paramus, NJ at 201-368-3700 or in Manhattan, NY at 212-996-3939 to arrange an appointment. For more information about our services, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/