Postpartum Depression: A Silent Epidemic – Winter 2010
Break the Silence: Join the discussion about postpartum depression online, hosted by PPD survivor Kristin Davis ’88, by using the comment section below.
Get the Facts About PPD
- Approximately one in eight new mothers experiences PPD.
- Approximately eight of ten new mothers experience the “baby blues.”
- Only about one-third of those suffering from PPD will be diagnosed and only 22 percent will be adequately treated.1
- PPD refers to a spectrum of disorders that includes:
– Postpartum panic disorder: Occurs in up to 11 percent of women following childbirth2
– Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder: Occurs in approximately 3–5 percent of women following childbirth3
– Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder: Occurs in approximately 1–6 percent of women following childbirth 4
– Postpartum psychosis: Occurs in approximately 1.1–4 of every 1,000 deliveries. There is a 10 percent infanticide/suicide rate associated with PPP, which is why immediate treatment is crucial.5
1 Templeton, Hilda, PSI conference, 2006
2 Postpartum Support Int’l Factsheet
3 Postpartum Support Int’l Factsheet
4 Beck, C. 2004. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Due to Childbirth, the Aftermath. Nursing Research 53(4):216-224.
5 Gaynes et al., 2005
Recent PPD Headline-Making Developments
- 2001: Andrea Yates, stricken with postpartum psychosis, drowns her five children
- 2005: Brooke Shields’ book about her experience with PPD, Down Came the Rain, and Tom Cruise’s subsequent assertion that chemical imbalances don’t exist
- 2006: New Jersey became the first state to pass a law requiring licensed health care providers (MDs, nurses) to educate women and their families about PPD, screen new mothers for PPD, and establish a statewide perinatal mental health referral network, including the creation of a 24-hour hotline
- 2006-present: Senator Menendez (D-NJ) sponsored the controversial Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. For the bill’s text and more information, visit www.perinatalpro.com.
Spread the Word About PPD
Too many women today still suffer unnecessarily in silence due to:
- Lack of public awareness/educational initiatives
- Misdiagnoses of doctors due to failure to distinguish PPD from the blues
- Lack of awareness of PPD symptoms
- Lack of PPD screening of new mothers before they leave the hospital
- Lack of awareness within medical community of the full scope/complexity of perinatal mood disorders (e.g., perinatal OCD, psychosis, PTSD, anxiety disorder, etc.)
- Societal misconceptions (e.g., insomnia, a classic symptom of PPD, is merely sleep deprivation and fatigue that all new moms experience, and having a panic attack is the same thing as anxiety that comes from difficulties in transitioning to motherhood and being a first-time mom)
- Societal stigma related to mental illness
- Motherhood myths (e.g., myth of the “super mom,” breastfeeding, bonding, etc.)
January 25, 2010