Myths & Mis-characterizations About Postpartum Depression and Related Illnesses

In an effort to ensure the public does not stigmatize women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Mom-Mentum.org, a nonprofit agency that offers information and education about the challenges, realities, and value of mothering, has broken down the meaning of “postpartum depression.”

When the subject of “postpartum depression” (PPD) comes up it is often accompanied by misinformation and erroneously linked to mothers who commit infanticide, abuse, or neglect their children.  Agency officials explain there is NO direct correlation between those actions and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Officials have noted several types of mental illness related to childbirth, with different symptoms and risks. It can be confusing because “postpartum depression” is often used as an umbrella term to cover many different conditions that can occur during pregnancy or postpartum. It is possible for women to have symptoms such as panic and anxiety, obsessive intrusive thoughts, anger, and mania, without primary depression.

In this article originally published by Mom-mentum.org, officials explain that if a mom has a major Postpartum Depression with no psychotic features, she does not have delusional thinking, although she might have distorted negative views of herself or her life due to her depression. Rather than being at risk of hurting others, a severely depressed or anxious mom without proper support and information can be at risk of suicide because she does not realize that she will recover. She is likely to fear that she is not a good mother, and myths and mistaken descriptions of postpartum depression add to her fear and resulting risk.

The group notes a difference between psychosis, where there is a real break from reality, and depression or anxiety, in which the woman is in distress but in touch with reality. An informed medical professional can and should assess whether a woman is depressed, anxious, or psychotic.

Additionally, the terms “baby blues” and “postpartum depression” are not interchangeable. Baby blues is not a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. It is a normal hormonal adjustment period after birth that usually resolves naturally within three weeks postpartum.

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