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Recently there have been headlines about actress Hayden Penettierre’s struggle with Postpartum Depression. Not unlike clinical depression, it is often a mental disorder that is misunderstood and is often left untreated.
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is different from what is commonly referred to as “baby blues.” Baby blues occurs in nearly eighty percent of new mothers and usually begins to occur within three to five days after giving birth. Symptoms can include mood swings, crying spells, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. These symptoms will begin to lift once the mother’s hormones begin to rebalance in a week or two (MentalHealthAmerica.net).
When these symptoms become severe and last longer than two weeks, it is likely that it could be Postpartum Depression. This type of depression is less common than “baby blues:” however, it occurs in roughly 10-20% of women. Some symptoms of PPD can include:
• Depressed mood or severe mood swings
• Excessive crying
• Difficulty bonding with your baby
• Withdrawing from family and friends
• Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
• Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
• Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
• Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
• Intense irritability and anger
• Fear that you’re not a good mother
• Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
• Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate, or make decisions
• Severe anxiety and panic attacks
• Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
There is not one specific cause of PPD; however, research suggests that there are three factors that can increase risk: hormonal change, situational risk, and life stresses.
If you or someone you know maybe exhibiting symptoms of Postpartum Depression, seek help from a mental health professional immediately. It is important to remember that treatment is available and you are not alone. Penettierre has done a commendable job in raising awareness on this important mental health disorder. She reached out for professional help and made her mental health a priority. Because of her willingness to share in her experience, she has given hope and strength to countless women who have shared in the same struggles.
About Jill Hamilton, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since becoming Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation in April 2014, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, the Metro Area LOSS Team, and is helping lead a community-wide health improvement initiative with the Douglas County Health Department called, “Just Reach Out,” which is focused on improving the people’s view on mental and behavioral health treatment.