Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. For some women, depression often begins during pregnancy (maternal depression). For other women, postpartum depression can begin as long as a year after birth. A recent study in The Lancet shows that the onset of depression and the nature of depression is widely variable.
According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as much as half of what is considered major postpartum depression actually begins during pregnancy.
How common is postpartum depression?
In the twelve months after birth, as many as one in five women experience symptoms. Symptoms may include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sometimes, the symptoms are mild and resolve without treatment. In other cases, where the symptoms are persistent or extreme, reaching out for postpartum treatment is the right call.
Who gets maternal depression or postpartum depression?
You may be vulnerable if you previously experienced prenatal or postpartum depression, or if you have other risk factors. For some people, maternal depression appears as a complete surprise. In some case, “intrusive thoughts” may frighten you, and take away from the experience that you had hoped to feel as a new mom.
Maternity-related emotional challenges are not new problems
As early as the fifth century B.C., Hippocrates proposed that fluid from the uterus could flow to the head after childbirth and cause delirium. In the Middle Ages, mothers with symptoms of emotional distress may have been suspected of being witches, or of being victims of witchcraft.
Reach out for help today
The ability of psychologists and physicians to treat prenatal or postpartum depression has come a long way and continues to evolve. If you have maternal depression, treatment is often very effective. Reach out for help today.