Newsday Tuesday: Understanding and Treating Postpartum Depression


February 16, 2016

If you’ve experienced depression while pregnant or as a new mom, you’re not alone. Nine percent of pregnant women and ten percent of new moms will go through a major depressive episode. Babies and toddlers with depressed moms may be more difficult to comfort, be less likely to interact, or have sleeping problems.

Post Partum Progress founder Katherine Stone, a survivor of postpartum depression gives powerful insights into what many women experience:

“Postpartum depression is common… but not normal. It’s not normal to be completely unable to sleep when the baby sleeps. It’s not normal to suddenly have rages where you break things when you’ve never once been an angry person. It’s not normal to have gruesome, intrusive thoughts where you imagine the worst possible things happening to your baby by your own hand. To have so much anxiety you can’t leave the house. Or to believe with all of your heart that your beautiful and beloved new family would be better off without you.”

These are just some of the reasons contributing to new recommendations by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that pregnant women and new moms be screened for depression. Evidence showing they can be accurately diagnosed and successfully treated has resulted in these women being highlighted within a broader recommendation that all adults should be screen in situations where they can be provided treatment (or a referral) if they are clinically depressed.

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An article from NPR discusses this announcement, noting that many health insurers and health systems follow the suggestions from the task force. The recommendation for access to effective care following a diagnosis is a major change in recognizing how untreated depression affects mothers and children.

Heidi Koss is the coordinator of a nonprofit group in Washington called Postpartum Support International. She has a degree in children’s therapy, inspired by her own experience with postpartum depression, during which her doctor didn’t respond to her cry for help. “He said, ‘Oh, this is typical of a lot of moms; perhaps you should get out more, maybe buy a new dress.’”

Mothers and their families need to be heard, making these recommendations welcome and essential. Treatment options range from cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of counseling (for pregnant and breastfeeding women) to drug therapy, including combinations of medication and talk therapy. League City Integrated Counseling and Wellness specialists will help you regain your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Contributing to the research are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The announcement appears in the current issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

Take Action Challenge

Read the article from NPR. Have you experienced depression while pregnant or as a new mom? How have you sought out and found support? Let us know in the comments.

Lead photo of a mother postpartum. Photograph by Tom Adriaenssen

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