Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illness, as it affects 1 in every 5 moms. Yet, it is also often misunderstood, and this only adds to the stigma that makes it harder for moms to reach out for help. Affected moms will typically hear nasty things said to them about having a mental illness – from family, friends, co-workers and even ignorant healthcare providers. This creates myths which portray affected moms in bad light and leads to shame that prevents moms from speaking out.
The truth is that there is no shame in having a mental illness. Postpartum Depression is a treatable condition; it is temporary provided a mom gets professional help. This is what makes it important to sift through the myths and understand facts about PPD while encouraging moms to get professional help. Advocating for maternal mental health goes a long way in sensitizing the community and reminding moms that they are not alone.
Below are some myths that moms need not here anymore, alongside facts that every one needs to know about.
Myth: PPD is a visible illness
Fact: PPD is NOT a visible illness & while some moms may not be able to get out of bed, bond with baby or even clean the house, not all moms present this way. Some moms appear well put together on the surface, but may be struggling on the inside.
Myth: PPD occurs immediately after birth
Fact: Upto 80% of new moms experience baby blues, a mild condition characterized by moodiness, crying episodes, difficulty sleeping and worries. This typically lasts up to 2 weeks; since the condition is mild, it tends to resolve on its own without requiring treatment. PPD however, is more severe, lasts longer and requires treatment. The most important thing to note is that PPD symptoms can appear at anytime during the first yr after birth. Many moms are confused when they start to notice symptoms of PPD months later, yet PPD may occur at anytime in the first 12 months.
Myth: PPD is a mom’s fault/ happens because of something a mom did
Fact: PPD is a real mental illness and NOT something a mom chooses to have. Affected moms often blame themselves foe having PPD when they cannot experience the mythical magic of motherhood. The truth is that PPD is caused by a number of factors (hormonal, psychological and social), all of which a new mom has no control over. To say PPD is a mom’s fault is grossly inaccurate and unfounded. PPD is not a mom’s fault.
Myth: PPD is a sign of weakness/laziness/bad motherhood
Fact: There is no truth in this. PPD is NOT a measure of strengthor how hard working a new mom is neither is it a reflection of her mothering skills. PPD is a mental illness for which professional help is available
Myth: Pregnant women cannot get depressed
Fact: 1 in 10 expectant women will get pregnancy depression. Pregnancy in itself, does not mean that a mom-to-be cannot get depression. Just like PPD, there are many risk factors associated with this form of depression (also known as pregnancy depression).Left unchecked, pregnancy depression almost always leads to PPD
Myth: PPD will go away on its own/ is something you can snap out of
Contrary to popular belief, PPD (and other maternal mental illnesses) is not something a mom can ‘just get over’. If it were that simple and straightforward, so many moms wouldn’t be suffering in the first place. This is a common, yet inaccurate statement affected moms hear. The truth is that telling someone to snap out of PPD implies weakness and only silences moms who would otherwise need help. Silence makes it harder for moms to get help & adds to the stigma thereof
Myth: You can recover from PPD if only you got more sleep
Fact: Granted, new moms will experience sleep deprivation and fatigue in the first few months after childbirth. This exhaustion does contribute to PPD, but getting adequate rest ALONE will not treat PPD.
Myth: PPD means a mom does not love her baby
Fact: A common myth that couldn’t be further from the truth. PPD is not a measure of how much/how little a mom loves her child. Depression affects a mom’s ability to bond with her baby, but this is not because she does not love her baby
Read More: When postpartum bonding is not automatic
Myth: Moms with PPD cannot make a full recovery
Fact: There are treatment options available for PPD, and that makes recovery possible. The earlier a mom gets help the PPD, the faster she is able to recover. We have had moms in our support groups make a full recovery, and continue to provide psychosocial support both online and offline for affected moms.
Disregarding these myths and providing factual information about maternal mental health is part of our advocacy work. If you suspect you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please get in touch with us using this Contact Form and we will link you with professional help. And for the mom with please know:
– You are not alone
– You matter
– You can get help
We understand and we would love to help you.
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