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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Hart MSW Student Intern

Understanding Postpartum Depression: Breaking the Silence

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Have you ever encountered the term postpartum/postnatal depression (PPD)? It’s different than the common term “baby blues.” It is a more severe persistent condition and is incredibly common and affects around 58% of women. PPD can manifest in various ways and with varying levels of severity; it typically manifests within the first few weeks after giving birth, lingering for six months or even longer. However, despite its prevalence, PPD remains a topic that is rarely discussed. Unfortunately, like many mental health issues, it carries a stigma and is often misunderstood and misrepresented. It's disheartening to learn that half of new mothers suffering from PPD go undiagnosed and unsupported. They fear disclosing their struggles, worried that it may lead to abandonment or a lack of support.

The emotional and physical toll is immense, with symptoms ranging from anxiety, insomnia, appetite changes, irritability, difficulty bonding, overwhelming sadness, and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts. While some women find relief within weeks, others require help to overcome PPD, and some may experience relapses within two years. PPD doesn't just impact the mother; it affects the infant and the entire family.

The postnatal phase can be daunting and vulnerable for mothers and families. Balancing the demands of caring for a baby, sleepless nights, and adjusting to hormone changes and physical recovery can feel overwhelming. During this critical period, it's essential to provide psychoeducation on PPD symptoms and resources for support, ensuring that new parents never feel alone or judged. Recognizing the symptoms is crucial for early intervention and treatment.

Normalizing PPD can break down barriers and encourage more women and families to seek professional help. While most practices today don't engage in "mom-blaming," the unfortunate history of judgment still lingers. Constantly bombarded with opinions on parenting do's and don'ts, it's easy for mothers to feel a sense of shame and guilt, as I personally experienced during my own battle with PPD.

PPD is a treatable condition, and no one should suffer in silence. Some options for seeking help and support are talking to your healthcare provider, support groups, medication and therapy.

Research has shown that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatment options for PPD. This therapy focuses on identifying unhelpful thoughts and emotions and learning new ways to think and react to triggers. The fundamental principle of CBT is that our emotions are directly influenced by our thoughts, assumptions, and beliefs about ourselves and our social environment. By utilizing CBT, mothers can navigate feelings of blame and cultivate self-compassion. They can learn to counter self-criticism and develop strategies to handle negative thoughts effectively, differentiating between helpful and unhelpful thoughts while increasing adaptive coping mechanisms.

It's high time we break the silence surrounding PPD, normalize the conversation, and create safe, non-judgmental spaces where mothers and families can openly express their feelings without fear of repercussion. By doing so, we support the mothers themselves, foster healthy mom-baby attachments, and reduce marital conflicts. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength; you are not alone on this journey.


Visit our website at https://www.psychotherapyforyou.ca/ for information on our fantastic therapists trained in Cognitive-behavioral therapy.




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