People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they’re depressed. They may not be aware of signs and symptoms of depression. If you suspect that a friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement.
- For mothers. Untreated postpartum depression can last for months or longer, sometimes becoming a chronic depressive disorder. Even when treated, postpartum depression increases a woman’s risk of future episodes of major depression. You can help a new mother by encouraging her to seek help, offering to watch her baby while she rests, watching other children in the household, and providing emotional and physical support (cooking, housework, etc.).
- For fathers. Men can also experience postpartum depression. New dads are at increased risk of depression, whether or not their partner is affected. Postpartum depression in men can appear similarly to how it presents in new mothers, including: loss of interest in usual activities, irritability, acting distant, anger, aggression, and feeling hopeless. Adjusting to a new baby is hard, but if these symptoms last longer than two weeks, encourage new fathers to reach out for help, either to a counselor or their primary care physician.
Resources are available in Philadelphia, for all parents dealing with postpartum depression. The first step of asking for help can often be the hardest, but with assistance from family, friends, and health professionals, it will get better.