Postpartum depression, or PPD, is not just a mother's issue. Everyone in the family is affected, especially the children of a mom dealing with PPD. Thankfully, more families are learning to spot early signs of PPD, and the stigma which has kept so many depressed new mothers from seeking treatment is finally being lifted. With early intervention, families are less likely to suffer the long-term effects of postpartum depression.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in nine women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy. The Illinois Department of Public Health, believes that the number could be greater, estimating that up to 20 percent of new moms will experience postpartum depression. Because it is a prevalent issue, some health care providers are beginning to conduct prenatal and postpartum depression screenings. Screening tools such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS), and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) can be used to help diagnose a new mom suffering from PPD, and assist with intervention.
If you think that you may have a pregnancy related mood disorder, it's important to seek treatment so that you can avoid the following long-term effects of postpartum depression.
1. Parent-Child Bonding Problems
Janice Cooper, interim director of the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health told Scientific American that moms struggling with postpartum depression struggle to bond with their children. A study in Pediatrics & Child Health found that children of depressed mothers are also at risk for developing insecure attachments to their mothers, meaning they develop issues with trust and dependability.
2. Relationship Problems
According to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) the relationship between parents may become highly stressed or threatened by the mother's postpartum depression. PANDA suggested that important decisions about the relationship be postponed until the depression has improved.
3. Tension Among Friends & Relatives
Any new mom knows that friends and relatives are never short on advice. PANDA warned that this kind of support can come off and critical or intrusive to a mom with PPD, and maybe even be the cause of break-ups and estrangements.
4. Social Problems Among Children
The Pediatrics & Child Health study found that toddlers and preschoolers of depressed mothers are at risk for developing poor self-control. These children can have "difficulties in cognitive functioning and in social interactions with parents and peers." School-age and adolescent children of moms with PPD are at risk of conduct disorders and can develop their own anxiety disorder. The study also found a greater risk of ADHD and learning disabilities among children of parents with depression.
5. Suicide or Infanticide
A research study in General Hospital Psychiatry found that untreated postpartum depression can lead to tragic consequences, notably maternal suicide and infanticide . According to statistics by the New York State Department of Health, approximately five percent of women with perinatal depression, specifically postpartum psychosis, commit suicide and four percent commit infanticide.