Frequently Asked Questions

 

Parenting is filled with unknowns, but this is a season and it will pass. There is support when you need it the most. 

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What are the symptoms of Postpartum depression? How is it different from regular depression?

Postpartum depression impacts upwards of 20% of women in the first year of giving birth, making it the single greatest postpartum complication. Symptoms of postpartum depression include feelings of sadness, anger, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, change in appetite, difficulties sleeping, crying, irritability, and difficulty bonding with your baby. While regular depression and postpartum depression share many of the same symptoms, regular depression is unrelated to childbirth. 

Many women who experience postpartum depression also experienced depression prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy and have a history of depression, though a history of depression is not always present.

How do I know if I have Postpartum Depression versus the "baby blues?"

About 80% of women report the "baby blues" within the first two weeks postpartum. The baby blues are in part due to a drastic hormonal crash in the first few days of having a baby, but improve within two weeks. While the baby blues and postpartum depression share many of the same symptoms, postpartum depression symptoms are more severe and persist for a longer period of time, typically peaking around 3 1/2 months, but presenting within the first year post birth. If you are experiencing symptoms of the baby blues for more than two weeks postpartum an evaluation for a postpartum mood disorder is needed. 

I'm not sad or depressed, but I don't feel like myself. Is this a postpartum mood disorder?

The transition into parenting is a big adjustment for everyone. Adding new babies to families with already existing children is a big adjustment. Sometimes it can take a while for us to feel normal and get into a new routine. However if you find that you're experiencing mood swings, intense periods of sadness, anxiety, or irritability for a prolonged period of time (more than two weeks) you should seek an evaluation with a professional to determine if something more serious is going on. 

Postpartum mood disorders don't always look the way we'd expect them to. One woman with postpartum depression may cry uncontrollably while another is highly irritable and agitated. A woman with postpartum anxiety may not be experiencing feelings of sadness, but rather have intrusive and obsessive thoughts about something happening to her baby. If you do not feel like yourself it is best to have an evaluation by a professional to assess whether you're experiencing a postpartum mood disorder or are going through a normal period of adjustment. 

I'm scared something bad might happen to my baby. Is this normal? 

Many new parents experience feelings of anxiety or fear that something bad may happen to their child. It's not uncommon for parents to check in on their baby in the night while the baby sleeps, for instance. However if that fear or anxiety becomes obsessive, overwhelming, persistent, or impacts over all day to day functioning and relationships in your life then an evaluation by a professional should be done to assess whether additional support and services would be helpful. 

I had my baby a year ago, but still don't feel like myself. Could this be a postpartum mood disorder? 

If you are experiencing symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder or just don't feel like yourself it is important to get an evaluation done by a professional to assess your risk of a postpartum mood disorder. Many times it can be difficult to focus on yourself in the first year after birth and once the cloud of infancy begins to settle and routines are established it can still feel as if things "just aren't right." Trust your judgment and seek additional evaluation and support.

Postpartum mood disorders aren't the only reason a person may feel off--life changes and adjustments can be difficult to shift and settle into. Regardless of the cause, speaking with someone for an evaluation is a good measure of determining whether your feelings may be related to a postpartum mood disorder.  

I had my baby more than a year ago, but still don't feel like myself. Could this be a postpartum mood disorder even if it's been more than a year? 

Always trust your judgment and seek additional support and evaluation when you are not feeling like yourself. If left untreated, postpartum mood disorders can last for years, meaning that if you "still don't feel right" a year or more postpartum, you could still be experiencing a postpartum mood disorder. Once you've had a baby you are always postpartum.

Postpartum mood disorders aren't the only reason a person may feel off--life changes and adjustments can be difficult to shift and settle into. Regardless of the cause, speaking with someone for an evaluation is a good measure of determining whether your feelings may be related to a postpartum mood disorder. 

I adopted my baby. Is it possible that I'm experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression even though I didn't birth my child?

Postpartum mood disorders can happen to anyone. The biological act of carrying a child is not the only factor contributing to postpartum mood disorders. Parenting is hard, however a baby joins a family, and yes, postpartum depression can happen to adoptive parents as well. 

I am a father and am experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. Is this possible?

While upwards of 20% of mothers get postpartum depression in the first year after birth, an estimated 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression as well. While less discussed, it is just as serious and deserves the same attention. Speak to a professional for an evaluation if you feel that you may be a father with a postpartum mood disorder. 

This is my second (or third or fourth...) baby and I felt fine with my other birth. Is it possible to have a postpartum mood disorder if I didn't have it before? 

Yes, postpartum mood disorders can occur in subsequent births, even if not present with previous births. Not having it the first time does not mean you will not have it in other births. Postpartum mood disorders are complicated and while certain social, emotional, and biological risk factors increase one's chances of experiencing a postpartum mood disorder, not having it the first time does not mean it's not possible to have it during subsequent postpartum periods

I had postpartum depression with my first baby. Will I have it with my second?

Not necessarily. While having experienced postpartum mood disorders after previous births does increase your risk of experiencing a postpartum mood disorder in subsequent pregnancies, it is not a guarantee that you will have it again. Many women find that they are better prepared to handle the stresses of a second or third pregnancy by increasing protective factors prior to birth of another child. For some women, however, postpartum mood disorders will present in subsequent pregnancies regardless. 

How common are postpartum mood disorders?

While many women experience mild mood disturbances after birth,  approximately 15-20% of women experience more significant symptoms of anxiety and depression. Approximately 10% of fathers experience significant symptoms of anxiety and depression after the birth of a child. Symptoms can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first 12 months after birth.

Does counseling help with postpartum mood disorders?

Counseling can be immensely beneficial to combating postpartum mood disorders. There are effective and well researched treatment options available to treat postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are treatable. 

What causes postpartum mood disorders?

Postpartum mood disorders can happen to any person from any background. There is no single cause for postpartum mood disorders, but both physical changes and emotional issues contribute. 

While no single factor is identifiable in causing postpartum mood disorders, there are several risk factors linked to them. Having experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy, a history of depression or anxiety, experiencing recent stressful events, poor social support, relationship difficulties, lack of family support, and financial stress are all risk factors for developing a postpartum mood disorder. 

Can I bring my baby with me?

Absolutely. I have set up my office to create as comfortable of an office environment as possible for families and children to be present in the office. While it is sometimes possible that children distract from the therapy process, many families find that arranging childcare, particularly for infants, can be more difficult than bringing the child. 

I generally do not recommend bringing children older than 12 months to session unless absolutely unavoidable. As children get older they are able to understand language better and it may not be appropriate to have the child in the session.  The more mobile a child is the more difficult it can be during session as well if you're needing to tend to the child instead of focusing on yourself. However one of the greatest barriers to treatment for parents is childcare and I'd like to make it as easy for you as possible to attend sessions. Please ask if you have additional questions about this and we can discuss it in more detail prior to your session and evaluate your own personal and unique circumstances.