I have a few concerns...After the birth of my son 15 months ago, I went through a very strange thing. I had a panic attack within hours of delivering! The say it's normal, but it was the beginning of a 3 month battle with postpartum depression. I'm now thinking of getting pregnant again, but have this awful fear of it happening to me again. What are the chances?Question:
There is a strong sentiment among medical authorities not to consider postpartum depression as a separate entity but rather to see it as a continuation or new occurrence of generalized depression. In so doing, they believe that women who are prone to depression, may benefit from preventative medication during the postpartum period. One such study I read had good results with treating women who had a history of depression with medication; fewer women had "postpartum depression" in the treated group.
I think that when we lump postpartum depression with bipolar disorder we are not accepting the postpartum period as a definitive period in women's lives. This time has its own unique physiology, role adaptation, demands, rewards etc. In addition, support networks change and adapt.
According to the literature, which as you now understand, medicalizes this condition, you are at a higher risk for developing it again with the next pregnancy. From the humanistic side though, I would like to add that a second pregnancy brings another set of expectations, demands but also a new confidence that you can do this.
I am a strong advocate of support groups and if you call your local public health nursing office or mental health office, they may be able to put you in touch with such a group. If you have read previous letters, you know also that I am a strong believer in mother's helpers, time out alone and time out alone with your partner and diet and exercise. These are all excellent preventive measures you can use to stave off some of the postpartum blues.