Following are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive about postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum panic, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis and anxiety and depression during pregnancy.
I know you are probably tired and miserable, and this is quite a long section, but moms (and dads) tend to have quite a wide variety of questions about these illnesses and we wanted to address as many of them as possible. If you keep scrolling, you are likely to find the info you’re looking for.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and/or OCD? How do I know if I have it?
There are many different symptoms and you may have only some of them. These are not one-size-fits-all illnesses. Read The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (In Plain Mama English). If you have some of the symptoms, and have had them for 2 weeks or more, call your doctor. What you are going through is temporary and treatable with professional help.
What is the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression?
Baby blues is a normal adjustment period that occurs during the first two weeks after the birth of your baby. It is not an illness, and lots of women experience it. It resolves on its own. If you are past the first two weeks postpartum and you have symptoms of postpartum depression (or anxiety or OCD or psychosis or PTSD) and they are impacting your ability to function as you would like on a daily basis, you need to reach out to your doctor. For more on this, read What’s the Difference Between Postpartum Depression and Normal New Mom Stress? You don’t need to worry about postpartum depression – admitting it, asking for help, etc. — or get too panicked about it because it is fully treatable. Really. Call your doctor!!
Can you get postpartum depression or anxiety much later after the birth of your child? What if you get it when you are 6 months postpartum, or 10?
These illnesses can arise any time during pregnancy or in the first 12 months after birth. If your doctor says you can only get postpartum depression in the first few months after birth, he or she is uninformed. For more on this, read Does Postpartum Depression Only Occur in the Weeks After Baby is Born? Also, you can get PPD with any child, regardless of whether it is your first or fifth or somewhere in between.
Where should I go to get help for postpartum depression or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?
You should also check the Postpartum Support International website or calling PSI at 1-800-944-4PPD. They have coordinators in most of the U.S. states as well as many countries around the world. Find out who your coordinator is and call or email them to get information on what support services may exist in your area, including support groups and treatment specialists.
Also, we KNOW it sucks to ask for help. For more, read 5 Reasons Why Asking for Help Sucks.
How long will it take to get better?
The thing about postpartum depression is, there is no specific timetable for getting better and you’ll only frustrate yourself if you create one or compare yourself to others. As long as you are working closely with an effective healthcare provider you will get better. Please be patient with yourself!! There are a few things, though, that can impact the length of your recovery. To learn about them, read Six Things That Can Affect How Quickly You’ll Recover from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
Do I have to take medication to be treated for postpartum depression or anxiety?
Not necessarily. There are a variety of treatments for PPD, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, etc, including therapy. You should work with your doctor to identify the best treatment options for you, and then be open to trying other things if the methods you choose don’t work. For more on treatments outside of traditional medication and therapy, read The Best Alternative Treatment Options for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.
What are some of the risk factors for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety?
There are many risk factors, including some originating from inside the body (examples: brain chemistry, genetics) and some external factors (examples: poverty, childhood trauma). What leads one woman to end up with postpartum depression or another perinatal mood or anxiety disorder may not be what leads someone else to it at all. The risk factors include, but are not limited to:
* A history of depression or anxiety in you or your family members
* Previous bout of postpartum depression or anxiety
What are the symptoms of postpartum psychosis?
Read The Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis (In Plain Mama English). Please know that if you have these symptoms you should reach out to your doctor immediately, because this illness has the potential to cause women to do things that are out of character. If you can’t reach your doctor, you can also go to the emergency room. It’s important to be somewhere where you are safe and medical professionals can help you get stabilized. Again, you may only have some of these symptoms and not all of them. Postpartum psychosis is temporary and fully treatable with professional help.
What are the risk factors for postpartum psychosis?
One of the key risk factors of this illness is bipolar disorder (diagnosed or undiagnosed) or a previous history of psychotic episodes.
I’m a dad. What do I do?!
First, don’t panic about postpartum depression. Don’t! What your wife or partner is going through is a common illness. It is temporary and treatable. She will get back to the person you know, with your support and patience. Visit our dad stories to read about the experiences of other dads just like you who have gone through PPD with their wives.
You should also visit the PSI website to see a cool video of other dads who’ve been through this. And get info on PSI’s special, free weekly conference call for dads here. We’d also recommend checking out Karen Kleiman’s book “The Postpartum Husband.”
Is there such a thing as depression or anxiety during pregnancy? Like postpartum depression, but while I’m pregnant?
Absolutely. It’s called antenatal depression and it is also quite common. Here are some stories from moms who’ve been through it:
Can you get postpartum depression after a miscarriage?
Yes. If you have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, first let us say we are truly sorry for your loss and we are here for you. For more on PPD after perinatal loss and for some specific resources for you, please read:
Can you get postpartum depression or anxiety after adopting a baby or child?
Yes. For more on post adoption depression and some specific resources for your situation, read:
Do I keep breastfeeding? Do I quit?
Breastfeeding and depression … such a big issue for moms with PPD. Some want to quit because they have difficulties with it or because it causes them too much stress, but they don’t because they feel pressure to keep going. Others don’t reach out for professional help with their illness because they fear they will be made to stop when breastfeeding is the only thing that helps them feel bonded to their babies. You need to know that you can and should do what is right for YOU, and that you can receive treatment and continue breastfeeding. You should also feel free to stop if you need to – you have options. We support you no matter what you do. Here are some stories you may find helpful:
What if I only feel bad (depressed, sad, anxious) right before or during breastfeeding but I feel perfectly fine at all other times?
You may have something called dysphoric milk-ejection reflex. For more on this, read For Moms Who Feel Bad Before Breastfeeding, This May Be Why.
Is it normal to have setbacks? I was doing really well and then I slipped backwards. I’m worried I’m never going to get better.
It’s VERY common to have setbacks. I probably hear about this more than any other issue related to recovery. Many women experience periods of feeling better only to slide backwards a bit. That’s all part of the recovery process, so don’t give up! Even during a setback you’re still on your way to a full recovery. For more on this, read:
What if I don’t have health insurance or mental health coverage, or I don’t have enough money to pay my deductible?
You still have options. Read How to Get Help for Postpartum Depression if You Have No Insurance (or Not Enough Money).
What if I reach out to a local psychiatrist or therapist and they can’t get me into their schedule for several weeks or even months?
We just can’t think of anything worse than finally getting up the courage to ask for help and then being told you’ll have to wait. Forever. While you are waiting for that darn appointment, there are other things you can do to try and get help sooner. Read Told It’s a 5-Month Wait to See A Psychiatrist?: What to Do Next To Get Help.
What if I my illness becomes severe and I need emergency child care?
Visit our resource guide: Child care services for moms with fewer resources
Can I get extra time off from work if I’m still trying to recover from postpartum depression when my maternity leave ends?
It’s possible, depending upon where you work and how much time you’ve already taken off. Read Can You or Your Husband Access FMLA If Needed For Postpartum Depression?
What if I can’t find a support group in my area?
How will PPD affect my children?
The important thing to know about postpartum depression is that the sooner you get professional help, the less potential your illness has to affect your children (or you) negatively over the long term. Getting help is a gift to both you and your child. For more on this, read:
What could happen if I choose not to get professional help and just wait it out until this goes away?
If you ignore PPD it could end up turning into chronic major depression for the rest of your life. It also has the potential to affect your child’s development. This is why it is not a good idea to try and wait until PPD goes away on its own. There are a variety of effective treatments from which you can choose that will help you recover. You might also be interested in What Makes Moms With Postpartum Depression Finally Reach Out for Help?
Can (or should) I have another child after experiencing a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder?
Yes you definitely can, but only you can decide whether you should. I did. Others don’t. Either decision is perfectly okay. Read:
Plus, here’s a 5-part series we did with seven moms who went through postpartum depression and anxiety on how they made the decision to have another child and what happened to them:
Will I get postpartum depression or anxiety or psychosis again?
You could. You are at a higher risk than the average mom of experiencing one of these illnesses if you’ve had it before. But it is not a certainty that you will get it, and if you do it won’t be the shock that it was before because you will understand what is happening to you and you will know that there are ways to get through it. If you’ve had a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder in the past, be sure to tell your OB/GYN and make sure that you have a team in place (your OB, your family, your psychiatrist or therapist) ready to support you and provide whatever help is needed, should you need it. Plus, the Warrior Moms of Postpartum Progress are here for you!
I am a clinician. Does this site offer information on screening, care pathways and the latest scientific data?
A lot of healthcare providers read Postpartum Progress, and we’re happy to have all of you. Our site focuses primarily on supporting moms, but we do have some tools for you. Check out the Postpartum Depression Screening Tools page and the Research page.
Do you have video resources?
We have a few, and are working to create more. Here is the Postpartum Progress channel on YouTube.
Are you on Twitter and Facebook?
Where can I find Spanish-language resources for postpartum depression?
Is Postpartum Progress a non-profit organization?
Yes. Please visit our nonprofit website here: http://postpartumprogress.org to learn more about us and what we are doing. We hope you will be willing to support our work. If so, please make a secure online donation to Postpartum Progress here!!
How can I help other women who are suffering?
You could consider volunteering in your area, perhaps by speaking publicly about your experience to moms’ groups or helping to moderate a PPD support group. We must also point out that if you have found Postpartum Progress helpful in your journey to recovery, or would like to further the services that Postpartum Progress Inc. provides to mothers, we’d love for you to please make a donation here. We cannot do all of this without you.
Do you accept advertising?
We accept advertising in support of our nonprofit and growing the mission of supporting as many women as possible. There are a wide variety of advertising and sponsorship opportunities. To learn what those are and see our media kit, please email us at [email protected] Let us know what company you represent and what product you would be interested in advertising.
How do I start a support group for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?
First, it’s best to wait until you’ve fully recovered and given yourself plenty of time to heal before you consider taking on the responsibility of creating a support group to help others. Once you are ready, please check out the following:
Why did Katherine Stone start Postpartum Progress?
Katherine had postpartum OCD with the birth of her son, her first child, in 2001. She felt alone and miserable when she went through it, and didn’t know where to go to get help. She didn’t want others to have the same experience. To read more about her story, you might check out Tragedy & Misery Intertwined: 9/11 and the Birth of My Postpartum OCD and My Story In Newsweek.
Is Katherine a doctor?
Nope. Katherine is not a physician, nurse, clinician, therapist, counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist or a doctor. She doesn’t even play one on TV. She is just a survivor and advocate who has worked hard over many years to educate herself on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. This blog offers peer-to-peer information. As always, be sure to consult with your own doctor regarding your specific situation.
More is on the way. We add to this all the time. If you have a question you’d like to see answered here, please email Katherine at [email protected]
Note: No page or post at Postpartum Progress may be reproduced or disseminated without advanced permission.