Many families expect the birth of a child and addition to their family to be a time of pure joy and celebration. However, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 partners suffer from postpartum depression, a serious mental health condition that can lead to self harm or suicide.
It's important to remember that postpartum depression isn't a character flaw or weakness, but rather a common complication that sometimes occurs after giving birth. Prompt treatment can help manage symptoms and allow families to bond with their new baby.
Postpartum depression is often mistaken for a condition called "baby blues," which typically only lasts a week or two after your baby is born. Symptoms of postpartum depression are more intense, last longer – sometimes more than a year after birth – and may eventually interfere with a mother's ability to care for her baby or complete daily tasks. Look for signs including:
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Excessive crying
- Depressed mood
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- Changes in appetite
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Severe irritability or anger
- Feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy
- Intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming oneself or baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Risk factors for postpartum depression include a history of depression, family history of depression, lack of social support and occurrence of a separate illness for the mother and/or baby.
Our treatment program
We have recognized a unique need for a specialized treatment program. UnityPoint Clinic Psychiatry – Cedar Falls offers a team approach to treating postpartum depression including medication management, lifestyle modification, social support and individual therapy. Group therapy options may be considered as well.
Jenna Berendzen, ARNP, Kristi Clements, LISW and Cindy Enyart, LMHC have completed specific education and training to help treat postpartum depression and its affect on families. Berendzen has seen the illness through previous work as a women's health nurse practitioner and even shared her own story about postpartum depression following the birth of her first child.
How to get help
Women who are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression need to understand they are not alone and we are here to offer compassionate support. Referral from primary care, OB/GYN or your child's pediatric provider is required, or you may call UnityPoint Clinic Psychiatry at (319) 277-0992 and we can help you through that process.