Postpartum Depression (PPD) can affect any woman anytime within the first year after childbirth. No woman is exempt. PPD affects women regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. It affects women who breastfeed and those who bottle-feed. Married women and single women are equally at risk. First-time mothers and those with multiple children experience PPD. PPD affects mothers of healthy full-term babies and mothers of babies who are premature or ill, it is the #1 complication of childbirth.
Many celebrities have begun to come forward telling their stories of struggle with PPD. In a Us Weekly article “Postpartum Depression Confessions”, Brooke Shields was quoted that she was “consumed with fear and mental torture” after having her daughter Rowan, now 9. Gwyneth Paltrow stated “I felt really out of my body, I felt really down, I felt pessimistic.” After the 1998 birth of daughter Delilah, Lisa Rinna reported that “visions of guns, knives, murder would just flash in my brain.” Courtney Cox also disclosed that she had suffered with PPD after her daughter Coco was born, she said “I couldn’t sleep. My heart was racing. I got really depressed.”
PPD is a real illness caused by a combination of hormonal, psychological, and environmental factors. The good news is that PPD is very treatable. The sooner a woman seeks treatment the sooner she will feel better and begin to enjoy motherhood.
What To Do If Someone You Know Is Suffering From PPD:
- Educate yourself about postpartum depression and anxiety, the more you know the better you can truly understand what she is going through
- Be patient, understanding and empathetic
- Ask the couple how you can help
- Offer to assist with childcare, even to watch the baby when mom is home so she can sleep
- Offer to clean the house, do laundry, run errands
- Listen and let the mother know you are there to support her even if she doesn’t want to talk
- Recognize that dad may also be stressed emotionally
- Help mom to find a support group
It’s tough to know what to say to someone you know suffering. Here are some good phrases for empathy and encouragement:
- You will get through this
- I am here for you
- This is temporary
- This is not your fault
- You are doing a good job
- I am sorry you are suffering
Beaumont offers free PPD support through group meetings — for moms and dads alike. All are welcome no matter what age your baby is.
—Kelly C. Ryan, MSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator