Huffington Post recently published an article entitled When Post Partum Depression Doesn’t Go Away. Certainly, there are far more new moms out there suffering from post partum depression (PPD) that have been diagnosed, and many just assume that it’s “baby blues”. The fact is that these are two very different things.
As always, I want to make sure that you have the best, and most current information possible, so I turned to Dr. Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., or “Dr. Shosh” for her opinion. Below is an interview of sorts that addresses the need for those suffering (or those who suspect they are suffering) from PPD to seek help, including early screening and treatment.
“In the article, they talk about screening for Post Partum Depression…do you think that this could help to identify cases early on?”
Dr. Shosh: “Screening for PPD in new mothers was mentioned in this article, and I certainly agree. Screening for depression and anxiety should also occur every trimester during pregnancy, since this has been proven to help predict postpartum depression and anxiety. In turn, a wellness strategy can be put in place to help prevent it. Screening during pregnancy can also, of course, help to identify pregnant women who are already suffering, which happens at about the same rate as it does postpartum. Just as crucial as screening is a referral to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) so women who need or want help can receive a comprehensive assessment and subsequent plan of action.”
“Do you think that all mothers who are suffering from PPD should seek help?”
Dr. Shosh: “What was not mentioned in this article was the importance of never counting on PPD to go away by itself. Although it may lessen and sometimes even disappear without intervention, as with any disorder the prognosis is best when it’s treated as quickly as possible. This illness tends to be tougher to treat when left to its own devices and hangs on for an extended period. In addition, the emotional and psychological challenges for the woman and her family multiply the longer the illness continues, adding to the complexity of the situation and depth of suffering. Also not mentioned is that “treatment,” along with therapy, might include alternatives or additions to medication such as acupuncture, photo therapy or TMS, to name a few.”
“Post Partum Depression is treatable, as you said. Do those suffering from PPD usually have a history of depression?”
Dr. Shosh: “In my clinical experience spanning almost 30 years of working with women worldwide with PMADs (just under 21,000 women to date), I have yet to experience a woman not recovering from these acute illnesses. As mentioned in the article, often women realize that there has been an underlying mental health problem present for years before the PPD (or other PMAD). But others experience the PPD as their first and possibly only depression. No matter what the case, postpartum episodes of depression are completely treatable and they do go away with proper treatment (that’s the key).”
“What’s the one thing that new moms (and dads) should take from this article?”
Dr. Shosh: “The take home message for all pregnant and postpartum women is to stay on top of their mental health. If they aren’t sure what they’re feeling is normal, they should seek help with a therapist specializing in these disorders. There’s nothing to lose — they will either receive reassurance that all is normal, or get the treatment that they need and deserve so they can get back to enjoying their lives.”
For more resources on PPD, please review Dr. Shosh’s site: www.DrShosh.com, or download her app. If you think that you or a loved one is currently experiencing PPD, please don’t assume that it will just ‘get better’. Seek support so that you can work through it.
Interview with Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D. (“Dr. Shosh”)