Message for a New Year: Let’s Stop The Stigma of Perinatal Depression Which Leads Many New Mothers to Suffer in Silence

In my years treating women with postpartum depression, one word is frequently the undercurrent during intake interviews. That word is, “STIGMA.”

Many new mothers get the societal message that they are supposed to be overjoyed with happiness. However this makes it particularly difficult for that group of new mothers that feel depressed or highly anxious. Those moms often report, “instead of feeling joy, I feel guilty that I’m depressed. I must be a bad mother.”

When I ask if they’ve shared these feelings with a spouse, partner, or doctor, they typically say, “No, never, it’s too embarrassing and shameful.”

That stigma is what we must work to eliminate, for it’s one key reason women fail to seek treatment.

What I emphasize is this: “You are not alone!” We must remind women that 800,000 to 950,000 new mothers every year in the U.S., and similar incidences worldwide, are affected with postpartum depression. That’s a huge number.

My mantra is: Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t allow the ignorance or stigma about mental health to keep you from getting the help you need*. Seek treatment from a mental health provider with expertise in perinatal issues. Talk to your physician, midwife, nurse, lactation consultant or doula. Get the healing you need, get well and enjoy motherhood.. NOW!

*Read more about the healing effect of telling your story and speaking about your postpartum experience in Chapter 12 in my book, Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders (http://www.amazon.com/Happy-Endings-New-Beginnings-Navigating/dp/0882824023)

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~ by ppdsus on January 1, 2014.

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