In honor of Mental Health Awareness week, we talked to Jill Oulman, MA, NCC, LPC, from The Medical Center of Aurora's Behavioral Health and Wellness Center about postpartum depression.
"While PPD is the most common and “popular” of reproductive mood disorders, any mood disorder can show up or be heightened in postpartum. For example, I see many women in my practice who are working through postpartum anxiety or post-partum OCD. We can even witness when postpartum mood disorders take a scary and dangerous turn in postpartum psychosis."
What is postpartum depression?
"Studies show that PPD affects 1 in 7 women (although it’s more likely closer to 1 in 5 since PPD often goes underreported). Even men can experience PPD with 1 in 10 experiencing perinatal postpartum. While “baby blues” is perfectly normal and natural, most heightened emotions that can be contributed to baby blues natural fade after 6-12 weeks. When feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness increase and patients experience a lack of motivation, increased tearfulness and inability to attend to needs of self or baby, that’s when we consider the condition postpartum depression over baby blues. Postpartum depression doesn’t just simply fade, it is best treated by seeing a therapist and talking with your doctor about medication management."
What are the causes of PPD?
"A decrease in hormones at a quick rate post-birth likely contributes to PPD, but women who have a family history of depression or previous diagnosis of mood disorders are more likely to experience PPD."
When to call the doctor
"One key to healing is being honest with your doctor during your 6-week check up. Most OB/GYN offices will ask moms questions in line with or similar to the Beck depression scale – assessing if the mom is feeling more or less emotional than before, if they feel they are bonding with their baby and if they feel their emotions are overwhelming or out of control. Additionally, it’s wise to “give permission” to a close and trusted friend or family member to come to the mother if they have concerns about their mental state. Often, mothers experiencing postpartum symptoms don’t have the capability to see themselves or their situation clearly. A close friend can gently encourage moms to seek help."
"Serious symptoms that may need immediate care, include:
- Lack of interest in your infant
- Fear of hurting or killing yourself or your child
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Loss of contact with reality"
"As with any mood disorder, the combination of talk therapy and medications have the most proven successful results. Mothers should speak to their doctor about medications that are safe to take if breastfeeding."
"Happy mom equals happy baby, so it is vital that mothers take care of themselves so they can ultimately take care of their babies."
Click here to be connected with our Behavioral Health and Wellness Center at The Medical Center of Aurora. Our Behavioral Health Treatment line is manned 24 hours/day with skilled staff that can help initiate help now.