Understanding PPD

If someone you love has been diagnosed with PPD:

  • Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 20% of all postpartum women. PPD is a medical condition that can be treated successfully.
  • PPD is a clinical depression that can occur any time immediately after birth up to a year postpartum.
  • If you are the partner of a woman who has been diagnosed with PPD, it’s very important for you to be informed and part of the treatment.
  • PPD can strike without warning — in women with no history of depression or women who have had it before. It can happen to women who are highly successful in their careers or women who stay home with their children. It can strike women in stable marriages and conflictual marriages, as well as single women, and adoptive mothers. It can happen to women who love their baby more than anything in the world. It can happen after the first baby, or after the fourth. It can happen to women who swore it would never happen to them.
  • It is not completely understood why PPD affects some women and not others — why women who have many risk factors may not experience it, and others who have no risk factors may end up with a full blown episode.
  • Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men.
  • Women are most at risk to experience emotional illness following the birth of a baby than at any other time.
  • PPD is a real illness.
  • She is not making this up.
  • This did not happen because she’s a bad mother, or doesn’t love her baby enough.
  • It did not happen because she’s having negative thoughts about herself or about you or about your baby.
  • It did not happen because she is weak and not working hard enough to get better.
  • She cannot “snap out of it.”
  • This is not fair. This is not what anyone expected. But if your partner or family member has been diagnosed with PPD, it will take a while for her to recover. Recovery may take weeks to months.
  • She will get better. She will return to her “normal” self. She will begin to experience pleasure again. This will not happen overnight.
  • The more supportive you are of her treatment, the smoother her recovery will be.
  • PPD is nobody’s fault. It is not her fault. It is not your fault.
  • Try to reassure her that there is nothing she has done to make this happen.
  • Often, when we are struck by something we do not understand, we try to cast blame on someone or something. This will be counterproductive.
  • Remember that we do not know exactly why this happened. What we do know is what to do to maximize the healing process.
  • Do not spend excessive energy trying to figure out what went wrong or why this happened. Your search for a reason will frustrate you and it will keep her spinning alongside of you. Save your energy for navigating through this unfamiliar territory.
  • She will get better. Be supportive of her treatment.
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