Becoming a new mother should be the happiest time in the lives of most women—at least, that is what society tells us. But every year, thousands of women across the country who have recently given birth, or who are about to give birth, report experiencing depression and postpartum depression. This issue only came to light in the past few decades, as an increasing number of women overcome the “shame” associated with mental illness to talk about and raise awareness of their experiences. Increased awareness of postpartum depression means that fewer women feel the need to hide their problems, and more women will seek help earlier in the onset of postpartum depression when it can be more easily treatable.
However, there are still a lot of problems when it comes to awareness. One of those issues is the fact that the segment of the population that is most likely to be diagnosed with it is the segment least likely to be knowledgeable about the subject. In this study, which identified women positively diagnosed with postpartum depression as well as the demographics of affected women, it was revealed that women positive with a diagnosis were more likely to be younger, African American, and to be in a lower income bracket.
In addition, most of the women who were found to have postpartum depression were also found to have a comorbid generalized anxiety disorder. That means that many instances of depression may also dismissed as common anxiety, or the typical concerns of a new mother. It is important to correctly identify depression, as it can have an immense effect on both mother and baby in the period after birth. In fact, many women will suffer depression for years afterward. In this study alone, 14 percent of the women in the study were positively diagnosed.
Women should be informed about postpartum depression and its effects, and they should know that it is a common problem after pregnancy. Of course, postpartum depression is just one of the many issues that a woman might face regarding pregnancy and childbirth—my mission in life is to inform women of all ages and races of what is going on with their bodies, and in my book, “Inside Information for Women”, I discuss pregnancy and childbirth in detail, in the hopes that more women will go through the process with the knowledge that they need to remain safe, healthy, and happy throughout their pregnancy and well afterwards.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.