Many people think postpartum depression is a rare mental condition that will never affect them. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Due to many different reasons, true postpartum depression statistics are often underreported in the United States today. Many new parents don’t even know they have postpartum depression, instead choosing to battle through their feelings and emotions on their own in the vulnerable time after a baby is born. If they knew just how common postpartum depression is, they might not judge themselves so hard for the natural emotions they are feeling.
This article is here to help. By listing some important postpartum depression facts, we hope to spread awareness about the frequent rate of postpartum depression and help those in need understand they are not alone in their postpartum journey. There is help out there for you; it’s all about reaching out when you need it.
Remember: If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, please reach out to your medical professional. The information provided in this article should not be taken as medical advice.
How Common is Postpartum Depression?
The prevalence of postpartum depression is not truly known. Because there is no official reporting required and because it’s believed many new parents go undiagnosed, the true incidence of postpartum depression is hard to guess.
That said, it’s important to know that depression after pregnancy — whether the expected “baby blues” or diagnosable postpartum depression — is extremely common. There are some big adjustments that must be made after a woman goes through childbirth. Her body requires time and rest to recover but, if she has chosen to be a parent, her new baby requires her attention every minute of the day. If she chose adoption, she will need to cope with the grief and loss of placement, which can be mentally exhausting in its own way. These requirements, on top of her everyday duties and responsibilities, can easily overwhelm her.
It’s no wonder that many new parents experience feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety during the first few weeks and months after a baby is born. They’re dealing with a lot! However, it’s important to understand that true postpartum depression involves more severe feelings than the everyday “baby blues” — such as suicidal thoughts, thoughts of hurting your baby, and more.
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) right away.
If you are wondering about the prevalence of postpartum depression because you are feeling some of these emotions, know that you are not alone — and what you are feeling is 100 percent normal. Please reach out to your doctor for more help if you think you may become part of the postpartum depression statistics in the U.S. today.
Postpartum Depression Statistics You Should Know
So, what exactly are the current postpartum depression rates in the U.S.? Approximately what percentage of new mothers experience postpartum depression?
While there is not a great deal of national studies out there on the prevalence of postpartum depression, there are some important facts that certain smaller studies have revealed about this mental health condition.
- One in seven women has diagnosable postpartum depression in the year after giving birth, which is about 22 percent of mothers.
- Approximately 70 to 80 percent of women will experience “baby blues” after childbirth.
- One in five women has thoughts of harming themselves after childbirth.
- Certain factors increase the risk for developing postpartum depression. They are:
- Women who show signs of depression before pregnancy
- Women who show signs of an anxiety disorder
- Women who start showing signs of depression during pregnancy
- Women who live in poverty or have poor access to education and health care
- For half of women diagnosed with postpartum depression, it will be their first episode of depression.
- About half of women who are diagnosed with postpartum depression start experiencing symptoms during pregnancy.
- Between one and two women out of every 1,000 will develop postpartum psychosis — an even more severe mental health issue after pregnancy. Ten percent of postpartum psychosis cases result in suicide or infanticide.
- The success rate for treating postpartum depression is 80 percent.
There are a few things to keep in mind when researching postpartum depression percentages and rates. Most of the reports on postpartum depression study women who have live births — but women who suffer miscarriages or stillbirths can still experience postpartum depression. In fact, they may even experience depression at a higher rate due to the circumstances of their pregnancy and delivery.
There’s another category of postpartum depression statistics to think about, as well — new fathers. While much of the focus on postpartum depression takes new mothers into account, it’s important to recognize that new fathers are just as capable of developing postpartum depression. In fact, 10 percent of new fathers experience some degree of postpartum depression after their baby is born. In addition, half of all men with partners who have postpartum depression will also develop depression themselves.
Finally, while most postpartum depression facts consider the biological parents, you should know that adoptive parents can develop postpartum depression, too. While hormones can play a role in a woman’s developing postpartum relationship after giving birth, it isn’t the only factor. The other factors — major changes in lifestyle, adjustments to a new baby in the house, etc. — are often experienced by adoptive parents and can also lead to diagnosable postpartum depression.
Remember: Current postpartum depression statistics in the U.S. likely don’t tell the full story of how many new parents feel depressed after their child is born. Just know that you are not alone if you are feeling sad, anxious or depressed and worried about being a bad parent. Reach out to your doctor for help to start yourself on a healthy path to recovery.