Treating postpartum depression

December 28, 2008 5:29:59 AM PST
Postpartum depression affects one in every eight to 10 women. Fortunately, it can be treated, but first women must ask for help.

Former first lady of New Jersey, Mary Jo Codey talked about the issue on Eyewitness News on Saturday morning.

What is Post Partum Depression?

  • PPD is common and affects one in every 8 to 10 women
  • Occurs within the first year after childbirth, miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Is not a character flaw or sign of personal weakness, and it does not mean that there is anything wrong with a woman's ability to be a mother
  • Most new mothers (60 to 80 percent) experience at least a brief feeling of the "baby blues." The baby blues include feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or moodiness that usually go away within a couple of weeks
  • If your symptoms last more than two weeks, you may benefit from medical and/or psychological attention, and should seek help. Talking about PPD is the first step.

  • It is also important to remember that depression can also affect a woman before, during or after pregnancy.

    You speak from experience. You experienced PPD first in 1984 and then again in 1988. What were some of the feelings you were having?

    I felt?

  • Alone
  • Like a bad mother
  • Selfish
  • Unkind
  • Uncaring

    What causes Postpartum Depression?

    The exact cause of postpartum depression is unknown. Some factors may include:

  • Changes in hormone levels
  • A difficult pregnancy or birth
  • Lack of sleep
  • Family history of depression

    Why is screening important? In 2006, you were instrumental in helping New Jersey develop legislation to require all healthcare providers to screen women who have recently given birth for postpartum depression and to educate women and families.

  • Screening is vital because it helps healthcare professionals see warning signs quicker in order to direct a mother who may be experiencing PPD to get help sooner
  • The screening is quick (just 10 questions) and is based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in most cases
  • Currently, just one state -- New Jersey -- has enacted legislation to require all healthcare providers to screen women who have recently given birth for postpartum depression.

    Is post partum depression treatable?

    Absolutely. Postpartum depression (PPD) is treatable, but many people wait too long to get help, or never seek treatment Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated through a number of methods such as:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Support groups
  • Medication

    What advice would you give a woman watching this right now who thinks she may be suffering from PPD?

  • You don't need to suffer in silence
  • You are not alone
  • It is important to speak up when you're down
  • There are resources out there to help you
  • I urge family members and friends to also speak up when someone they love is down

    Where should someone go to get help or learn more?

  • In New Jersey, you can call 800-328-3838 ? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ? for information on PPD and referral to support groups or treatment providers in your area. You can also go to NJSpeakup.gov for valuable information and contacts for women and their families, as well as for medical professionals.

  • In New York State, you can call (631) 422-2255. They can direct you to resources in your community including support groups and therapy

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