For many new mothers, postpartum depression is a stark reality and for those who cannot afford help, doctors believe if time passes — the harder it is to be treated.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is classified as a mood disorder that disrupts new moms’ mental health after childbirth. According to The Cleveland Clinic, 50 to 75 percent of new mothers will experience the baby blues while 15 percent will develop PPD.
Brittney Pohler, PA-C, MPH, at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station, revealed in an interview that PPD diagnosis cuts off at 12 months — but it doesn’t necessarily mean the disorder does.
“Postpartum depression typically starts within the first couple of weeks following delivery. It can last, if untreated, from weeks to years. After the first year, we don’t call it PPD, but the biggest risk is PPD lingering on and becoming a chronic depression,” she says.
“We consider postpartum depression existing through 12 months postpartum, and we know it often doesn’t resolve without some kind of intervention,”
A licensed clinical social worker and program coordinator for SCL Health’s Maternal Mental Health program, Keri Hanson, said in an interview with Romper:
“We also know that of the number of women identified as having PPD, only about 50 percent of them actually receive treatment, and a very small percentage of that number receive adequate treatment.”
But symptoms of PPD are not just thoughts of harming yourself or your baby but includes feeling sad, hopeless, empty, crying more often than usual, irritability, anger, trouble concentrating and making decisions, eating too little or too much, and having frequent headaches or unexplained muscle pain.
So why exactly would PPD not be treated? Because for most women, it is not as easy as you would believe.
“There are a ton of barriers to care,” reveals Hanson. “It’s difficult to find a therapist who has experience with perinatal emotional health, and the barrier of just finding a therapist who happens to be contracted with your specific insurance provider. And one of the largest barriers, in my opinion, is the barrier between mental and physical health. Patients are having to access to two care systems for their needs.”
But Hanson reveals that despite the difficulty of finding care, it is worth the time and effort as there are many risks of leaving PPD untreated and it is not likely to go away on its own.