How to tackle the challenges of postpartum depression
An estimated one in seven women suffer from postpartum depression, and yet the condition still faces many misperceptions. Medical experts recently weighed in on the myths and realities of postpartum depression, also known as PPD.
First, postpartum depression has nothing to do with what kind of mother you are. You did not inflict it on yourself. And like other forms of depression, it can be treated.
"It is caused by hormonal fluctuations, lack of sleep, and other underlying conditions. It isn’t a character flaw," says Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence.
See a health care professional if you’re a new parent and think you may have postpartum depression. Your doctor could prescribe a variety of treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, support groups, as well as meditation and exercise.
"You don’t have to just suffer through it,” says Dr. Daniel Chappell of the Ogden Clinic in Utah. “You don’t have to go months and months feeling those symptoms, that you can seek help and there are really good medications and therapies that can really help you through it."
Postpartum depression is longer lasting and more intense than the “baby blues,” comprised of the mood swings, sleep difficulties and anxiety that many moms feel the first couple weeks after birth. PPD symptoms are strong enough that they may interfere with your ability to care for your baby, and untreated postpartum depression can last for many months.
Dr. Amritha Bhat, a perinatal psychiatrist at UW Medicine in Washington state, encourages women to fill out a validated questionnaire to help their doctor diagnose PPD both during and after pregnancy. “We’d like to see this become as common as having your blood pressure measured when you go in for your (obstetric) visit.”
Besides your doctor, there are other resources for women who may be suffering from PPD:
- Call or text the Postpartum Support International HelpLine: 1 (800) 944-4773 (phone) or 800-944-4773 (text)
- If you’re feeling suicidal thoughts, immediately seek the help of a loved one, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours a day/7 days a week) at 1 (800) 273-8255
Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can log into their account on regence.com. Or call us for help finding the right resources.
Our customer service professionals are trained in Mental Health First Aid, a globally recognized certification, to better support our members and help them understand and access their mental health benefits.