5 Myths About Postpartum Depression

postpartumIf you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, your postpartum health is of the utmost importance. Postpartum depression is real, it’s serious, and it’s not something you should just ignore in hopes it will go away on its own. Learn to separate fact from all the postpartum myths that populate the Internet.

1.  You Just Have to “Ride It Out”

There are any number of ways your doctor can help you lessen the effects of postpartum depression. While some women are more pre-disposed to severe depression than others, getting plenty of exercise, plenty of sleep and seeking medical help have proven beneficial in conquering this condition. Diet plays a big role too. Foods high in magnesium, selenium and zinc are natural mood enhancers:

  • fatty fish
  • eggs
  • whole grains
  • leafy green vegetables
  • milk
  • citrus
  • nuts and beans
  • dark chocolate

According to studies conducted at the University of Colorado, incorporating a healthy mix of these foods into your daily diet can greatly lessen the feelings of sadness and anxiety that accompany postpartum depression.

2.  Everybody Gets It

The actual statistics vary according to who you ask. In 2008, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the number at around 15 percent. Some estimate it higher, taking into account women who don’t report their symptoms. The high-end estimate hovers at around 25 percent, meaning that, at the most, approximately one in four women will experience postpartum depression.

3.  Only Mothers of Live Births Get Postpartum Depression

Not true. You can suffer from postpartum depression regardless of how your pregnancy ends. Whether you have a miscarriage, abortion, a stillborn child or a live birth, your body still goes through the motions. It’s the hormones that your body produces during pregnancy that causes postpartum depression, not the outcome of the birth. Once a pregnancy ends, whatever the outcome, your body suffers a reduction in the production of estrogen and progesterone, which can contribute to worsening depression.

4.  It’s No Big Deal

Postpartum depression is a huge deal that can affect the lives of you, your newborn child and other family members. According to Postpartum Support International, while rare, postpartum depression can deteriorate into a psychotic state. When this happens, a mother may suffer hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and more. There’s a 5-percent chance a person suffering from postpartum psychosis will injure herself or her children.

5.  There Are No Predictors of Who Will Get Postpartum Depression

This is only partly true. Using a series of screening factors, physicians can mostly predict who is at risk for contracting postpartum depression:

  • women who have a history of depression or anxiety disorder,
  • those with little social support,
  • women suffering negative events in their lives,
  • women having marital difficulties,
  • those who have a history of bi-polar depression in the family.

Sometimes the screening factors used by doctors will mistakenly identify a woman as a high-risk candidate for postpartum depression, but more often than not, the process proves quite accurate.

The important takeaway is that if you think you could be suffering from postpartum depression, or if you’re afraid your postpartum health could become compromised, tell your doctor right away. There’s no need to suffer alone in silence while the whole world passes you by. Postpartum myths are just that — fiction. Get the facts and ask for help.

Do you know someone who has battled postpartum depression?


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