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  • Writer's pictureDr. Marianne O'Byrne

Is this more than postpartum blues?

Approximately one out of eight women will suffer from postpartum depression following the birth of their child, a miscarriage or a stillbirth. It is often very difficult for women experiencing difficulties to get the help they need. Several barriers to seeking treatment exist including lack of proper screening by physicians, including obstetricians, pediatricians and family doctors, mother’s perceived need to present themselves as “put together” following the birth or a loss, and difficulties disclosing symptoms as a result of feelings of embarrassment, guilt, resentment and worries that their concerns will be dismissed. Moreover, the symptoms of postpartum difficulties are often ambiguous as a result of the overlapping symptoms within the realm of normal postpartum adjustment, such as fatigue.

Mothers struggling with postpartum depression may experience:

- Feeling low, sad, irritable, restless, numb or empty

- A loss of interest and enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities

- Changes in desire for and enjoyment of food

- Difficulties sleeping or getting rest when the baby is sleeping or attended to

- Fatigue

- Psychomotor changes often noticeable to others, such as moving slowly or being

restless or on edge.

- Excessive low sense of worth or guilt

- Concentration difficulties, including slowed thinking or having trouble making simple


- Recurrent thoughts of dying and no longer being able to go on.

Postpartum difficulties often present themselves initially by specific thought patterns, which are often characterized as scary, worrisome, intrusive and unwanted and are hard to disclose. Examples of thoughts include:

- Ideas: What if I don’t feed my baby enough?

- Images: I keep picturing the baby drowning in the bathtub.

- Impulses: Every time the baby cries, I feel like I’m going to do something to the baby.

Or can be about:

- Yourself: I’m certain my baby would be better off without me.

- Others: My partner thinks I am a bad mother.

- The future: What if my baby grows up to be a bad person.

If you are concerned about how you, a partner, a friend, or a client is feeling during the postpartum period, please seek guidance, advice or reassurance. If left untreated, postpartum depression may increase in severity or lead to chronic episodes of depression. Moreover, postpartum depression can impact your ability to care for and bond with your child and can result in engaging in unhealthy coping strategies (e.g., drinking). 

In working with me, I can assess the symptoms of postpartum depression, provide differential diagnosis, and offer effective treatment options to help women recover and mothers enjoy their time with their child. I am here to help to take care of yourself in this time of transition and need.

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