The Toll of Postpartum Depression


depressed womanLast month in India, a woman threw her 45-day-old daughter out of the hospital's bathroom window. It's suspected that she suffered from postpartum depression after giving birth to premature twins.

In Texas this week a mother of four stabbed her 25-year-old daughter to death before shooting herself in the head. While the motive is unknown, postpartum depression is also being investigated, as the woman has a 5-month-old baby as well.

The deep, desperate acts caused by postpartum depression are mind-numbing, and it's terrifying to think anyone could be that overridden by the disease to do such awful things.

But it's real, and it's prevalent. With more than 400,000 babies affected by mothers who suffer from postpartum depression, it is THE most under-diagnosed obstetric condition in America.

The effects of postpartum depression, however, aren't always so dramatic. Some results are much more subtle, but do damage nonetheless.

According to a new study, the children of mothers who suffer from postpartum depression are more likely to have developmental and social delays.

Identifying and treating it early are key say experts. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that pediatricians assess new mothers at least once after they have given birth and that they should screen them when they bring in the children for future checkups during at least the first six months.

It's good for all parents and their close family and friends to know the signs of postpartum depression as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the signs of postpartum depression:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swing
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

If you have any of these symptoms, please see your doctor immediately. There are multiple treatment options available that can help you and prevent your baby from any harm.

Have you ever suffered from postpartum depression? Did you spot the symptoms yourself or did someone else recognize that you needed help?


Image via Megyarsh/Flickr


postpartum recovery, mom secrets, baby health, baby development


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lovin... lovinangels

I think I did. Actually, an acquaintance of mine at work just commented that it was great to see me back at work. I've been back for 14 months- he said, well, you haven't been yourself at all, since you had the baby, till the last couple of weeks. My grandfather did pass on when she was three that may have contributed to my total lack of me-ness.


jptra... jptranslator

wow, this is so sad.

Katherine Stone

It would be great, Cafe Mom, if you could make sure to write more factually correct items about postpartum depression, so as not to traumatize the hundreds of thousands of women suffering right now.

I understand that the purpose of this piece was positive. I appreciate very much trying to spread the word on symptoms of PPD. It's just that terminology matters.

"The deep, desperate acts caused by postpartum depression are mind-numbing, and it's terrifying to think anyone could be that overridden by the disease to do such awful things."

Postpartum depression does not lead to deep, desperate acts like stabbing babies or throwing them out of windows. It's extremely rare that any baby is ever harmed, and when they are, it is possible that it could be due to postpartum psychosis. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are two VERY DIFFERENT illnesses.

pamel... pamela_in_fl

Bravo Katherine. Yell it! Make them listen! I'm in the pit of hell right now with PPD and I have ZERO thoughts of harming my children...

Portland Prevention

Thank you, Katherine for chiming in. Terminology DOES matter.

Katherine Stone

And one other thing, while I'm at it: postpartum depression can lead to children with social and developmental delays.  But it's very important to note that happens in relation to children whose mothers received no treatment.  Children whose moms get help for their PPD and get better and who develop bonds with them turn out just fine.  I should know.  Mine did.

- Katherine,

Gina Crosley-Corcoran

Yes, Katherine - terminology absolutely matters. There's also another condition rarely discussed, but I suffered from post PPD and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after my very traumatic cesarean.  The combination of those two things left me not necessarily identifying with famous books on PPD, so I went a long time without getting treatment.  With PTSD, I had daymares constantly that my son had died.  I woke up in the middle of the night screaming that he had died.  I hated everyone in my life EXCEPT for my baby, who I thought was going to die any minute (I have no idea why.)  I finally got on Zoloft when he was a year old, and stayed on that during my second pregnancy.

Women need to know that this can manifest itself in a hundred different ways, and providers need to be trained to sensitively recognize the symptoms.

Henry... HenrysMom13

I think I suffered from PPD, but everyone just said it was baby blues & would pass, luckily it did.  I never considered harming myself or my son, but I was a wreck for at least 3monts after he was born.  I thought everyone went through the same thing, but my sister had a baby 6months after me & I felt so shocked to see how great she handled everything.  I couldn't eat, sleep & seriously wanted to smother my husband w/ a pillow if I saw him even look like he was enjoying life when I was so miserable (so much rage & it was all directed at him).  He was very helpful though & took my wrath in stride.  My baby is 10months now & we are both doing well, but it has made my husband & I seriously reconsider adding to our family...

Atlan... AtlantaPPDMom

Postpartum Depression and Psychosis are very different disorders.  Not only do women with PPD not commit infanticide as a result of suffering from postpartum depression, but rarely do women, EVEN WITH PSYCHOSIS, kill their babies.  We should not even subtly imply that a woman with depression or anxiety as a result of having PPD is at risk for killing her baby.  Thoughts (like the intrusive ones associated with Postpartum OCD) are very different from actions.  The difference with Postpartum Psychosis is that the women cannot determine the difference between reality and delusions and are not in their right minds at all.  These women do need to be treated immediately and could be a danger.  PPP is rare...1-2 in 1000 vs the 1 in 8 that is typical with PPD.  Women with PPD very much want to get better and fear harming their infants or being diagnosed with PPP or treated by someone who would confuse their mood disorder with psychosis which puts them at risk for actually doing harm.  The title of this article implies that the typical "toll" of postpartum depression is death.  In reality, it is a mom who has to endure terrible emotional pain and a baby who is not privileged to what he/she deserves in a healthy mom.  Both of which are detrimental enough to warrant encouraging support and treatment for new moms without scaring them or worrying their friends out of their minds!

nonmember avatar Christine

Forget postpartum depression. I have been a mom for almost 5 years and I have been diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression for almost 13 years. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and do have intrusive thoughts. I would never ever harm anything or anyone especially my own daughter!!! I was denied volunteering with kids because I disclosed my OCD and that hurt me; the thought of someone thinking I would hurt my own daughter because of OCD is heart wrenching!

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