Heads-Up: Depression Isn’t the Only Postpartum Disorder


{♫Intro♫} Having a newborn can be a joyous experience but it can also be overwhelming. After all, you’re suddenly responsible for
this helpless, needy human being. And while they might be super adorable, they’re also not that interesting for a while. On top of that, there are all kinds of hormone
fluctuations, sleep disruptions, and potential complications from labor and delivery. So even if you’re not the one who gave birth,
there’s a lot to deal with. These days, it’s becoming more well-known
that things like postpartum depression exist, but the reality is, depression isn’t the only postpartum disorder
out there. Having a kid does some weird things to the
brain, and that can lead to or aggravate all kinds of psychiatric conditions. According to the World Health Organization,
up to 20% of people who give birth develop postpartum psychiatric disorders. These include depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD,
and psychosis. And without screening and treatment, they
can take a serious toll on someone and their child. They can also happen to a parent who doesn’t
give birth. The research is more limited there — especially
when it comes to groups like adoptive parents — but data suggest that at least 5% to 10%
of new dads develop postpartum depression. And up to 18% develop postpartum anxiety disorders. No matter whom you’re studying, though,
figuring out what causes these conditions is extremely tricky, because there are so
many variables involved. Anything from genetics to finances could play
a role, and in general, postpartum conditions are still underdiagnosed and understudied. But even though the science isn’t crystal
clear, that doesn’t mean researchers have no idea what’s happening. Take one study of more than 8000 women in
England. It identified that two of the greatest risk
factors for developing any postpartum psychiatric disorder were anxiety and depression during
pregnancy. Other studies have found that having a history
of any mental illness before having kids seems to increase the overall risk, too. But that isn’t where their research has
stopped. For each of the major conditions, scientists
have also managed to identify factors that might play a large role. For one, they think social and environmental
factors play a huge part in postpartum depression and anxiety disorders. These factors include marital status, finances,
family support, food security, and more. And while research is ongoing, the general
idea is that these things may cause symptoms by influencing someone’s hormone levels
or gene expression. A good example of when this happens is with
postpartum depression. Its symptoms include overwhelming feelings
of sadness, severe fatigue, and loss of interest in daily activities. And in the U.S., it’s thought to affect
up to 1 in 5 parents who give birth. But the data also suggest that those numbers
can go up when people experience things like food insecurity or a lack of access to healthcare. Factors like this can also impact whether
someone develops postpartum generalized anxiety disorder, which involves chronic worry. And they can influence postpartum obsessive-compulsive
disorder, which involves unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors. Some conditions even have more specific environmental
causes, like postpartum PTSD — or post-traumatic stress disorder. Someone with this condition will feel severe
distress when they think about a certain trauma, and they will avoid things that remind them
of it. And in this case, the cause can actually be
pretty straightforward. It’s not true for all people, but postpartum
PTSD can happen when birth felt traumatic. Of course, just because scientists think these
factors play a big role doesn’t mean they’re the only culprits. Someone’s genetic background will also contribute
to their mental health. For some disorders, though, researchers believe
that things like genetics and hormones play an even bigger part. A good example is with postpartum psychosis. This is among the rarest and most severe postpartum
psychiatric illnesses, and it typically requires immediate intervention. Although it’s hard to get a clear estimate,
it seems to occur in roughly 1 or 2 people out of every thousand who give birth. And the symptoms appear within a few days
or weeks following delivery. Those symptoms start suddenly, too, and they
include paranoia; grandiose, bizarre delusions; and extreme mood swings. And unlike conditions like OCD or anxiety,
these impairments can be so severe that someone becomes in danger of harming their child. Thankfully, there are treatments for this
disorder, but because it can appear so fast and is so extreme, scientists have spent time
looking at the risk factors. So far, the biggest one seems to be bipolar
disorders. In fact, evidence suggests that postpartum
psychosis is actually just an extreme version of these conditions, and that it happens when
hormone changes after birth crank existing symptoms way up. The case isn’t totally closed on this, though,
since some research has found that at least half of those who ended up with postpartum
psychosis hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar disorders. And there are also some data that suggest
that some cases of postpartum psychosis could be an extreme form of postpartum depression, or the onset or recurrence of disorders like schizophrenia. Regardless, it’s not a bad idea for those
with a history of these conditions to talk with their doctor before giving birth. Ultimately, though, understanding the risk
factors for all of these conditions is important, because they allow patients to make informed
decisions during or after having a child. Even just acknowledging them is great, because
lack of awareness, stigmas, or the belief that having a baby is supposed to be super
amazing can all leave parents suffering. But, hey. Having a new kid is a whirlwind, and there’s no shame if that takes a toll on your mental health. Just learning that these disorders can happen
is a good place to start, and the nice thing is, there are plenty of screening methods
and treatments available for them. So even if scientists are still trying to
pin down exactly why they happen, they’ve at least found ways to help. Earlier, I mentioned that postpartum depression
can present in both parents, not just the one who gave birth. If you want to learn more about that, you
can check out our episode about it. And as always, thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Psych. {♫Outro♫}

58 Replies to “Heads-Up: Depression Isn’t the Only Postpartum Disorder”

  1. 30 year old me: "Doctor, I have post birth depression." Doctor: "But you haven't birthed."

    Me: "But I was born"

  2. "There are plenty of screening methods and treatments for them."
    If you can afford them in 'Murica.
    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  3. The mother of a guy I know had post partum psychosis. His mother refused to recognise him as her baby, and even threw him out of the window.

  4. I am a young woman who suffers from depression and eating disorder, and this video just captures almost everything I need to explain to people why I decide to be childfree. Pregnancy and motherhood require more effort than they are thought of, especially when we live in a (still) male-dominant world. People always tell me: you will change your mind some day. As if I am supposed to be able to be a mom and have all the skills and capacity needed to be a mom because I am born female.

  5. I do believe that preexisting conditions can be involved. I personally have known 3 people who had extreme depression, including a cousin who committed suicide, "so she wouldn't harm her baby".

  6. I just don't understand those that dislike perspective video about something relevant to the future, but may blame depression.

  7. 0:11 – 😂 Sing the truth sister! 🤣 To be fair, infants are amusing; they're just empty and useless for a—long—while.

    It's likely that the phenomenon of changelings is just postpartum depression/psychosis. 😐

  8. Depression is only a process of readjustment, the best way to handle a depression is to let it take its course until it finishes.

  9. I have postpartum PTSD. Its been a struggle, and most just dont get it, how do you get ptsd from pregnancy???? I hear all the time.

  10. I know someone who had postpartum OCD/ Psychosis where her main symptoms were intrusive, recurring thoughts of harming her baby, followed by an obsessive hiding and removal of sharp objects and ropes/ strings from the house. She finally got help when she decided the leave the baby with her mother so it would be safe. Her mom immediately recognized something was wrong, and she was able to go to the hospital and get treatment. Thanks for the video! Awareness about this kind of thing is so important.

  11. Thank you for making this! I gave birth to my daughter last November. I had no bonding issues with my daughter, so thought it was just normal baby blues. It wasn’t. I ended up with PPD, PP anxiety, and the potential trigger to unknown issues. I’ve fought depression since a teen but managed it well and was in a great spot when I got pregnant. Pregnancy I felt great mentally. It hit like a tidal wave about a month after returning to work.

    This needs to be talked about and the shame taken away. Many women suffer in silence out of fear. Fear they will be judged or their feelings will be dismissed. I’m lucky I have supportive partner, family and doctor but not everyone does.

  12. We got to talk about the difference between baby blues, depression and psychosis in my pregnancy group. Most of the other women had no clue about the differences. I knew ahead of time because of my past mental health. In a much better place but still making sure I stay mentally healthy for when my baby comes. 12 days to due date and making sure my man knows the warning signs too. I want to be able to enjoy my baby when he comes! I have waited years for him.

  13. My wife had pospartum psychosis. She is become crazy, moodswing and hyperactive. Twice. (Every time she give birth. I have 2 doughte). Its a scary time for our family.

  14. I read a news that might be something of this nature here in the Philippines. The mother and her other family think there's a monster (aswang) that has swapped the baby for something else so they threw the baby to the window. If I remember correctly, the baby was safe.

    This condition has only been known to me since a few months ago. It's amazing that this can explain some of the beliefs and weird things mothers experience.

  15. I wonder if the cost of giving birth (at least in the US) can cause post partum… it's one of several reasons why I'll stick with animals

  16. As someone that is very proactive in treating my mental health and strongly wants to have kids in the future (yes even after watching this), it has never occurred to me that my preexisting conditions could influence my postpartum experience to this extent. I just thought my methods and medication would just keep things normal… gotta love the influence of hormones 😂

  17. Once again I'm thankful for my tubal ligation!

    ….I can barely take care of myself some days. I woke up at 8 am today and didn't realize until 3 pm I hadn't had anything to eat or drink.

  18. The best way to beat postpartum depression is "the right to choose"; "no baby", no "Postpartum depression" !

  19. 25 weeks pregnant and terrified of having my baby. I already have generalized anxiety disorder and depression, I can only imagine how bad it’ll be after she’s born 😖

  20. Just about every sentence is structured with "can, may, thought to" come on now. You don't have to make a video on something with so much information up in the air. This sounds more like a thought experiment than scientific video.

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