Postpartum Mood Disorders


RALEIGH, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The numbers are high and the secrecy behind them is equally disturbing. One in five women who suffer postpartum mood disorders such as anxiety and depression do it in silence. They are not telling their doctors and that can cause harm to mothers and their children. These moms don’t have to suffer in silence.

When she discovered she was pregnant, Natasha Williams was ecstatic.

“My husband and I, we had multiple baby showers. We attended all of the pre-prep classes if you will,” said Natasha.

But when her son arrived, things didn’t go as planned.

“Within 24 hours after giving birth to my son, I felt very sad. I felt overwhelmed. I almost felt trapped as if I had made a huge mistake,” Natasha continued.

Natasha was diagnosed with postpartum depression and was treated with medication and counseling. Ten to 20 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. Betty-Shannon Prevatt, MA, LPA, Clinical Psychologist at North Carolina State University, found 21 percent of them keep that to themselves.

“I was surprised mainly because the sample that we ended up recruiting were white, married, affluent women for the most part,” Prevatt explained.

Meaning they could access and afford treatment.

But postpartum expert, Carrie Banks, Volunteer Services Manager for Postpartum Support International, says mothers keep quiet because of the stigma that hangs over mental health issues.

“Everyone expects you to be so happy and women are afraid to say I’m not happy, this isn’t working, something’s not right,” Carrie said.

Carrie’s organization hosts in person support groups, a support phone line in English and Spanish and connects women with medical professionals. That meant everything to Natasha.

Natasha said, “I’m just thankful that treatment allowed me to meet this time in my life. I don’t think without it, I would be here.”

Here to raise her son as a healthy, happy mother.

Postpartum Support International is the leading organization supporting women with all types of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. PSI has volunteers in 50 states and 49 countries. Get support locally at or by calling what they call their warmline at 800-944-4ppd.

Contributors to this news report include: Valonda Calloway, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Tyra Dixon, Videographer.

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REPORT #2486

BACKGROUND: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression. Women who miscarry or whose babies are stillborn are also susceptible to postpartum depression, but the CDC’s report only looks at live births. Of these women, only 15% with postpartum depression ever receive professional treatment. This means about 850,000 women each year are not getting the help they need. Part of the reason for lack of treatment is the fact that many physicians, including obstetricians and pediatricians, do not screen. Another reason is the stigma that exists that either prevents mothers for asking for help or in following through on treatments like therapy or psychiatric medication. When women are not treated for postpartum depression, research shows they are less able to bond with their children or care for them properly. They are more likely to medicate themselves with alcohol or drugs and may end up with lifelong chronic depression or anxiety.


SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENTS: Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. The levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body quickly drop, which leads to chemical changes in her brain that may trigger mood swings. Some of the most common symptoms a woman may experience include: feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed; crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason; worrying or feeling anxious; moody, irritable, or restless; oversleeping, or being unable to sleep. Women who experience these symptoms often turn to effective treatments like counseling or medication. Two types of counseling are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change their negative thoughts and behaviors; and interpersonal therapy (IPT), which helps people understand and work through problematic personal relationships. Antidepressant medications may also be prescribed, which aid in mood regulation. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.


HELP MAY BE AN APP AWAY: The University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine recently launched the Android version of PPD ACT, a mobile app-based study helping to further the understanding of why some women suffer from postpartum depression and others do not. The app was previously available for iPhone only but is now available in the United States and Australia for Android devices. The app surveys women to identify those who have had symptoms of postpartum, and invites certain women to provide DNA samples so that researchers can study the genes of those affected. “The participation from the first year of the study is astounding and, frankly, unprecedented in terms of using the social media platform of an app to recruit women for study participation involving the donation of genetic samples,” says Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. This study is the first of its kind and uniquely designed for rapid collection of a large number of DNA samples required for genetic analysis. Many women have sought care and treatment based on symptoms that became apparent after completing the screening module of the app.


* For More Information, Contact:

 Betty-Shannon Prevatt, MA, LPA

(919) 612-3348