An expectant mother is about to experience extreme lifestyle changes, on top of the immediate emotional and physical stress of childbirth. Dealing with these newfound challenges—sleep deprivation, the responsibility of nurturing a newborn, and the underlying stress of unrealistic expectations—can send a new mother into a debilitating downward spiral.
For many women, giving birth is the most joyous event of their lives. But, every year, for more than 3 million women in the U.S., child birth results in the development of postpartum depression—and it can be devastating for mother and child alike. Most cases of postpartum depression are resolved within a matter of months, with such treatments as talk therapy, antidepressants, and ketamine infusions. However, some cases of postpartum depression can worsen in time, ultimately increasing the mother’s risk for developing chronic, severe depression.
Postpartum depression is complex, oftentimes confusing, and always emotionally-charged. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 11-20% of women who give birth– about 600,000 women every year – will experience signs of postpartum depression. Only 15% of the afflicted women, however, will seek professional counseling or medical attention. This may be because admitting to being depressed after giving birth can feel shameful. It may also be because postpartum depression generally doesn’t persist for more than six months, making it difficult to treat with psychotherapy, antidepressants, or other depression treatments that aren’t immediately effective.