Postpartum Depression

Put most simply, postpartum depression (PPD) refers to a depressive episode that occurs within the first year after the birth of the baby. Although most commonly seen in mothers, fathers can also experience postpartum mood changes. Fifteen percent of the time, depressive symptoms start during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is different from the “baby blues” which refers to transient mood changes lasting no more than two weeks. If mood changes persist for two weeks or more, you may have a postpartum depression that should be assessed. Other depressive symptoms seen more commonly in PPD include:

  • Excessive worry about the baby’s health or well being
  • Severe sleep deprivation
  • Profound anxiety or panic attacks
  • Feelings of extreme inadequacy and self-doubt, particularly around care of the
    infant
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby or lack of interest in bonding
  • Some women with PPD have fears or thoughts about hurting their baby but
    know that they will not act on these thoughts. This is relatively common. In much
    rarer cases, women may experience postpartum psychosis, which means that she
    has lost contact with reality. In such cases, immediate assessment by a
    medical professional is required, for the safety of both the woman and the baby.

Postpartum depression may go untreated because of the difficulty leaving home to get to an appointment or because of the intense involvement required in caring for a newborn.  It is however a condition that can respond very well to counselling or in other cases medication, or both.  If you would like to call or email me to discuss your personal situation, I would be happy to hear from you.

Related Articles

Top Tips for Eating Well When You’re Depressed

March 2012 In Depression

Practical suggestions for eating when your mood is low.

Postpartum Tips

April 2011 In Postpartum Issues

A variety of strategies for navigating the postpartum period.

Recommended Books

The book links on this page are Amazon Associate links; if you choose to make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission which I use to fund my low-cost counselling resource lists. Your support is greatly appreciated.

How To Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by KC Davis (2022)

While Marie Kondo taught me to let go of a lot, KC Davis helped me to forgive myself, no matter the state of my home. A boon to neurodivergent folks, those struggling with mental health issues, or anyone else who is overwhelmed by life, therapist KC Davis, offers practical, forgiving strategies and care tasks that we can all use. Highly recommended.

Mothering the New Mother: Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth: A Support and Reference Guide by Sally Placksin (2000)

Now a vintage book, the author honours the experience of new motherhood and the need for nurturance and care for the mother at a time when all attention is on baby. Combines women’s comments and practical strategies in the text.

 

Operating Instructions: A Journal Of My Child’s First Year by Anne Lamott (1993)

A humorous and unflinchingly honest description of first-time motherhood.  Lamott writes with a unique level of candour, wit and vibrancy. Even though it’s an older book, it sill represents a choice for new mothers seeking an unsentimental voice in what can sometimes feel like a sea of unattainable positivity.

 

Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood by Cori Howard, Ed. (2007)

Canadian anthology of tales of motherhood. Honest and riveting.

 

Mothers Who Think: Tales of Realife Parenthood by Camille Peri and Kate Moses, Eds. (2000)

Anthology of stories about motherhood. Pieces range from tender to provocative.

 

The Mother Zone by Marni Jackson (2002)

Personal account of first-time motherhood. Author asks the question, “why didn’t anybody tell me it would be like this?”

 

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: A Self-Help Guide for Mothers (7th edition)

This gentle guidebook, published by the Pacific Postpartum Support Society, offers encouragement, support and helpful advice to mothers experiencing postpartum mood changes. Recommended.

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields (2005)

Actor Brooke Shield’s intimate recounting of her experience through postpartum depression and back.

When Baby Brings the Blues: Solutions For Postpartum Depression by Ariel Dalfen (2009)

Written by a Toronto psychiatrist, this book provides straightforward information about postpartum depression along with practical suggestions for treatment.

Resources

9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline

Call or text 9-8-8, from anywhere in Canada, 24/7.

Nurses Line – Health Link BC

Call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7. Other professionals available through this line include after-hours pharmacists, exercise professionals and dieticians

Kelty’s Key Online Therapy

Free, self-directed online cognitive behavioural therapy.

Crisis Services and Hotlines in Vancouver

Resource list, updated quarterly.

Reduced-Cost Counselling [PDF]

A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.

Here to Help

BC-based website offering comprehensive information on a wealth of mental health conditions and addictions concerns.

1-800-SUICIDE

24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.

Pacific Post Partum Society

Telephone support, support groups, partner support and resources for those suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

Self-help guide (pdf). Not intended to replace professional help.

Antidepressant Skills Workbook

Free self-care manual for depression, available in several languages. Persons with major depression should also seek help from a physician and/or professional counselling.

Mood Disorders Association of BC

Support groups, education, info and referral to people living with depression or bipolar disorder and their supporters. The MDA also has a counselling clinic.