Expert Advice

Understanding Postpartum Depression

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by Diana Barnes, Psy.D


Societal myths say that pregnancy and birth are a time of optimal physical and emotional well-being. But it’s an extremely vulnerable time because stress is high and resilience is low. Ideas about motherhood begin years before baby’s conception, but your individual history and current circumstances will shape your experience. Each year about one million women will suffer with a mood or anxiety disorder around childbearing. If you’re worried about postpartum depression, you’re not alone. If you get depression, you’re not to blame.


The desire to protect and nurture is instinctive. But it’ll take time to develop a relationship with your baby so you recognize his/her needs. Be patient with yourself as you and baby grow to know each other.


Perinatal depression or postpartum depression (PPD) looks different than you expect — more like excessive worry and anxiety, than depression. You might have persistent thoughts or images that disturb you. You may feel foggy, confused and forgetful, unable to sleep even when baby does. It might feel like you are going through the motions or are afraid to be alone because you won’t know what to do if the baby cries. You might even secretly wish you never had a baby, and think it was a terrible mistake. THIS IS THE LANGUAGE OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. If you worry whether you’ll have PPD, ask for help in advance, because depression is TREATABLE!


Perinatal depression is often preventable. Ask your doctor to screen you throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and time for you are critical to well-being. Line up friends and family for postpartum help. It’ll allow you to recover and care for your baby. Postpartum depression is the most common complication of pregnancy and the most treatable with therapy, support, and medication, when indicated. Keep asking for help until you find someone who will listen!

This could be the happiest time in your life. If you get help quickly, it will be, and your family will yield the rewards.


To learn more about healthy pregnancy and postpartum, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and the Graceful Birth Center founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner.  These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.



Published: October 10, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert | Last reviewed: October, 2015

Kim WallsUnderstanding Postpartum Depression

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