About 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Fallon was one of them. Watch to see her story and her advice to other moms going through something similar. During her journey, Fallon battled with suicidal thoughts. If you or someone who know is struggling, here's the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
About 10% to 20% of mothers experience postpartum depression, and it’s not the same thing as the “baby blues.”
What’s the difference?
Mainly length and severity. It’s important to distinguish between the two because the baby blues don’t require treatment, while PPD does. The baby blues usually start within the first few days after delivery and last up to two weeks. PPD usually starts soon after having a baby, but it can develop up to a year after giving birth — like in Fallon’s experience above at the three-month mark. Some studies suggest that PPD symptoms improve over time, with some cases resolving within three to six months, but a lot of women experience it for far longer. The baby blues are characterized by irritability, sadness, and trouble sleeping, while postpartum depression is more intense, lasts longer, and may interfere with a mother’s ability to care for her child.
What are the postpartum depression symptoms?
Change in appetite
Change in sleep routine
Withdrawing from family and friends
Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby
What about postpartum anxiety?
This condition is related to PPD and people can experience them simultaneously. But postpartum anxiety involves racing thoughts and fearing that something will happen to the baby. Postpartum psychosis is another condition that can manifest after having a baby. Rarer than PPD or PPA, it’s characterized by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and erratic, reckless behavior.
What causes these conditions?
Surprise — having a baby is a huge life change. Women don’t get as much sleep as usual, and are faced with a whole set of new challenges. The causes may be physical, too: a biiiig drop in estrogen and progesterone levels after childbirth may contribute to developing PPD, and a drop in thyroid hormones may leave new moms feeling sluggish and depressed.
What are some risk factors?
Some of the things that can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing PPD: personal or family history of depression, recent stressors like pregnancy or birth complications, giving birth to twins or triplets, and lacking a strong support system. There’s been debate over whether there’s a link between breastfeeding and PPD, but the CDC says evidence is inconclusive. Women of color are less likely to seek and receive comprehensive treatment for these conditions than white women, in part due to distrust over a medical system that historically hasn’t given them equal treatment.
How are these conditions treated?
Both medically and mentally. Women experiencing symptoms should go to their ob/gyn or another health care professional. Your doc may recommend medication, mental health treatment, or certain lifestyle changes like more exercise or breaks from the baby. They may suggest a combination of all three of these. If symptoms are severe and immediate — like an urge to harm the baby — parents are advised to go to the emergency room.
Postpartum depression can feel incredibly isolating. But people experiencing it are not alone. Fallon Carmichael Santiago is part of a large group of women who’ve experienced this condition and come out on the other side.
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