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

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

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, resources 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.

 

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

Canadian anthology of tales of motherhood. Honest and riveting.

 

I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile (2007)

Quotes from hundreds of mothers across the US about their experiences and perceptions of motherhood with “mom-to-mom” advice from the authors, both mothers themselves.

 

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.

The Smiling Mask: Truths About Postpartum Depression and Parenthood by Carla O’Reilly, Elita Patterson, Tania Bird et al (2008)

Three Saskatchewan women tell their personal stories of postpartum depression including postpartum psychosis.

Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression by Marie Osmond (2001)

An early celebrity account of the experience of postpartum depression. Marie’s story will especially appeal to those seeking alternative treatments for PPD.

Beyond the Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression by Shoshanna Bennett and Pec Indman (2003)

Updated version published June, 2006. Clear, concise information about perinatal mood changes and anxiety. Intended for laypeople and professionals.

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

Actress 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

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 online cognitive behavioural therapy for qualifying Vancouver residents.

Wellness Together Canada

Canada-wide, 24/7 professional phone counselling and other support options.

Crisis Services and Hotlines in Vancouver

One-page sheet, 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. 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.